U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney isn’t just trying to keep former President Donald Trump out of the White House, she’s also vying to restore political power, and moral authority, to her party’s traditional conservatives.

At times it seems a Sisyphean task. 

Opinion

Last week, Wyoming’s congresswoman called out far-right Republicans who have embraced the racist conspiracy theory that motivated a deranged gun nut to kill 10 Black residents of Buffalo, New York on May 14th.

“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,” Cheney tweeted two days after the attack. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.”

She said Republican leaders “must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Denouncing racism should not be a heavy lift for any politician. But it apparently is for Republican House officials and Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman, who wants to join their ranks.

On Cheyenne’s KRAE Radio, Hageman was asked about Cheney’s criticism. She made an incredible statement: “I don’t know what that gentleman did or what motivated him, but I can assure you I had nothing to do with it.”

Hageman pleaded ignorance but the “gentleman’s” motivation has been established beyond question. The alleged shooter published a 180-page “manifesto” online promoting the “Great Replacement Theory,” which claims white Americans are being deliberately and systematically replaced by minorities. A grand jury indicted him for first-degree murder. 

Investigators say the 18-year-old defendant, who live-streamed his rampage, wrote that his goal was “to kill as many Blacks as possible.” Law enforcement authorities almost immediately called it a hate crime.

In addition to herself, Hageman absolved her party of any responsibility. The only attack she mentioned was made by Cheney.   

“All of the Republicans I know and work with had nothing to do with that,” Hageman said. “So for her to come out and attack my fellow conservatives and Republicans for soundbites for Democrats isn’t what I want my representative in Wyoming to do, and that isn’t furthering the America-first agenda.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and other GOP leaders also dismissed Cheney’s criticism. He accused her of “playing a political game when she knows something’s not true.”

Cheney didn’t call out Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) by name, but she didn’t have to. The congresswoman — who replaced Cheney as chairman of the House Republican Conference — has been criticized for running Facebook ads aligned with the “Great Replacement Theory.” 

Stefanik’s ads plainly spelled it out; no dog whistles were necessary. She charged Democrats with trying to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants to create a “permanent election insurrection.” Her hometown newspaper, the Albany Times Union, blasted Stefanik’s actions as “despicable.”

The GRT isn’t new.  In 1995, Neo-Nazi David Lane wrote the rancid “White Genocide Manifesto,” which claimed the U.S. government intends to turn white people into an “extinct species.”

Fifteen years later, French author Renaud Camus further developed the GRT, which maintained that the native-born French were being replaced by minorities immigrating from Africa and the Middle East.

Several American politicians and the alt-right media advanced the theory in various forms. When far-right activists shocked the nation in August 2017 with their deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, torch-carrying marchers shouted, “Jews will not replace us!” Their behavior is a permanent stain on America, as is former President Donald Trump’s response. There were “very fine people on both sides” of the protest, he said.

The message wasn’t lost on ex-KKK leader David Duke, who thanked Trump for “condemning leftist terrorists.” The leader of the free world had just given legitimacy to white supremacists.

The significance of that rally was recalled by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) the day after the Buffalo murders. He said when national leaders offer “moral ambiguity or moral equivalency” to evil deeds, “I fear that you end up with these kind of tragedies.”

It’s no coincidence that the much of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 also embraced GRT.  

In January, Slate published an interview with leading Jan. 6 researcher Robert Pape of the University of Chicago. He said a majority of the insurrectionists lived in counties with the most significant declines in the white population. 

“These fringe beliefs like ‘the great replacement [theory]’ are now no longer confined to the fringe,” Pape said. “This is overall a mainstream political movement.”

Racist politics didn’t start with Trump, and it certainly hasn’t ended since he left office. 

A New York Times article published before the Buffalo shootings found that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson pushed the theory in more than 400 episodes. A recent poll found about one-third of adults believe an effort is underway to replace U.S-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains.

After championing the GRT for years and becoming its loudest proponent, last week Carlson claimed with a straight face he doesn’t even know what people are talking about. “It is everywhere in the last two days, and we are still not sure exactly what it is,” he said.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), who traveled to Cheyenne to denounce Cheney a few days after her vote to impeach Trump, tweeted that Carlson is right to champion GRT. Gaetz said the Anti-Defamation League, which called for Carlson’s resignation, is a “racist organization.”

By calling out the far-right’s gaslighting Cheney has broadened the reasons for Wyoming voters to support her in the Aug. 16 GOP primary. Her campaign is no longer just a referendum on Trump. What happened in Buffalo raised the stakes.

Hageman could have challenged the alleged culpability of Republican lawmakers and still conveyed the fundamental truth at its core: When such violence is perpetrated because of someone’s race, it’s an attack on the equality and freedom Americans have long cherished.

By pretending not to understand why this hate crime occurred, Hageman fumbled the ball. Whether it helps or hurts her at the polls will show which candidate best matches the values held by Wyomingites.

Trump hand-picked Hageman to run against Cheney, so I get why she doesn’t want to anger his hard-core base. If it’s simply a matter of playing the political games necessary to win the election, maybe Hageman believes showing loyalty to Trump is all she has to do.

Since the insurrection, people who know I disagree with nearly every position Cheney has taken in the House have asked me if I think she’s sincere or making political calculations for a potential White House run.

I think she has the courage of her convictions. She’s not afraid to speak — or even shout — truth to power. The fact Cheney’s willing to take her party’s leaders to task over racism gives me one more reason to believe I’m right.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

Join the Conversation

24 Comments

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Disappointing column. Not supporting Cheney doesn’t make a Republican racist. Supporting Hageman doesn’t make another Republican a racist. A Wyoming columnist repeating info from other NY columnists doesn’t work.

    I get it…..it is an opinion piece and you like Cheney. It is really an anti-Orange Man piece. Just own it.

    So, what size UltraMaga t-shirt will you be sporting at tomorrow’s rally?

  2. Hageman’s enacted ignorance of Buffalo, NY events, the supermarket slaughter, was an inept evasion. I suspect she understood the question, but the cadence of goosesteps on her right made it hard for her to think.

    Liz Cheney– condemned for condemning racism and bigotry– really? Pilloried for defending democracy? How dare she?

  3. We of the Wyoming public employees association interviewed Ms Hagerman back when she was running for governor, our consensus was that her level of ignorance concerning all issues of relevance to the people of Wyoming was truly mind boggling if she’s what Wyoming deserves I wonder what we did so wrong to be punished so severely.

  4. Though I don’t like most of Ms. Cheney’s politics, at least she has the balls to call a spade a spade and a lying, rapist just that. Hageman is just a mouthpiece for tRump and the rest of the lying Repubs. Carlson is one the biggest spreader of lies for Fox News. This is where the “fake” news comes from, and I wish everyone would just pull their heads out of their asses and listen up!

  5. Wait a minute! Kerry Drake chastises Harriet for not reading some racist lunatic’s 180 page manifesto and that, somehow, proves they share the same beliefs? That may be a bit of a reach. Also, when Trump spoke of “very fine people on both sides” he was referring to the issue of tearing down statues of Confederate soldiers, not the white supremist demonstration at Charlottesville, Va. Kerry Drake is either ignorant or he’s lying.

  6. When I asked Harriet if the election was stolen, she went on for 20 minutes about Mark Zuckerberg. She really will fit in nicely with all of her fellow Republicans who tell us and those who chose to believe that the sky is green. Cheney, as a truth teller, no longer fits in this new party of Trump. Facts and dignity are no longer important to many in this state. Oh, and by the way, Liberal Democrats love this country. We are not the enemy. We are your fellow citizens and compatriots.

  7. There is enough male bovine fertilizer in this article to enrich the lawns in the entire state.

    1. Until you can point out something specific in the piece that is inaccurate the only bovine excrement here is your comment

  8. Buffalo 2022

    I am Irish Catholic and was told I need not apply,
    and I get my courage from Guinness and Jamison
    because an Irishman cannot survives when dry
    and needs his sláinte and the occasional póg mothóin.

    I am Hispanic and some call me spic or pinche cabrón
    because they do not understand that I am a man,
    and will not leave their self-deception alone
    who consider us to be less because our skin is tan.

    I am a Jew and wear the yarmulke in my synagogue
    and follow the kosher rules at every meal
    and speak my Yiddish in a memorized monologue
    who recognizes the Nazi history as being real.

    I am Black and remember “white only” signs when young
    and know that the killings by police went over 200 brothers
    in 2021, and I am afraid of what systemic racism has done
    and grieve for the pain suffered by so many black mothers.

    I am Asian and fond of noodles and rice,
    and I did not invent Covid-19 so don’t blame me
    or my people by developing a another racist vice
    that bemoans the fact that here we both are free.

    I am a white supremacist who collects guns to shoot
    Mick papists, wetback beaners, kikes, slants, and niggers
    because they all should be given the nationalist boot
    or feel the pain of death from our well-oiled triggers.

    —c. f. kelly

    1. Cork, you have captured the underbelly of beliefs held over the centuries and still followed slavishly by some, like Ms. Cheney’s opponent, today. Americans have always hated and reviled the latest wave of immigrants – Irish, Germans, Italians, Chinese, Vietnamese and so forth. We’re usually afraid new people, willing to work harder and longer for less pay, will take our jobs, the same work we love to denigrate. It’s the ongoing story in our nation, which you think we should have outgrown by now at the ripe old age of 246. Ms. Hageman’s obfuscation and quiveling shows some still have not, and may never, mature.

    2. I am a Marxist who wants to divide and destroy
      everything you love because you won’t submit.
      I cannot create, so I take. I cannot innovate, so I indoctrinate.
      I hate God almost as much as my insufferable Satanic self.

  9. Fox news was the only one who covered Buffalo shouter mans totally confused manifesto ramblings while Fake news dismissed him as a Trump supporter. and like the Biden laptop provided next to zero coverage.

  10. Kerry Drake is clearly a left wing spokesman for the traitor Cheney. No financial donations for Wyofile from this 3 rd generation Wyoming Mexican – Jew. God Bless Harriet!!!

    1. Cheney is a traitor because she didn’t support the “stolen election” fantasy? Is that the argument?

      You chrump fanatics are delusional. Perhaps you should read the other opinion piece by Mr. Lenhart and soak it up a bit.

    2. I guess the only thing you can hope for, Hageman loses, then Dem.s, hopefully have someone that is not a Bidon, backer, We need to get this Oil back to running, There getting there Stemuless money back, Each time I fill, $54.00 a fill up.

      1. President Biden has been very successful at destroying the Wyoming economy. Mr. Biden ran on the ticket ” I will destroy the oil markets”. Mr. Biden supports the Russian petroleum and pipelines?
        I may be dreaming ? But Cheney seems to lean to the Left? Cheney’s trail guide Nancy Pelosi has her following Joe Biden.

      2. Wow, this is a struggle to process but I will try. Just an FYI, oil is running, very strong. That is why the State of Wyoming has more money than they know what to do with right now. Joe Biden has issued more drilling permits than tRump did during his presidency. Oil is still over $100 a barrel and you can thank the greedy oil companies for your $54 fill up. They are making record profits at the cost of poor American people that need to drive to survive. Once again, THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT CONTROL GAS PRICES!!!!!!!!! Your republican party is the one that continues to vote down any bill that will help ease the prices or ease anything that will help the American people.

          1. The keystone pipeline is operational. It was the shortcut that was mothballed. The pipeline still carries Canadian tar sands oil to the gulf of Mexico for export. Canadian oil…. again… Canadian.

            OPEC is still in a decreased production phase due to the last “presidents” deal to get the price of oil out of the cellar.

            Your blame is misplaced and your logic doesn’t make sense in regards to the oil market.

        1. Adults know that Biden opened his campaign saying he would do away with fossil fuels. Adults know that had a chilling effect on investors and producers. Lyin Slimy Joey Biden is backtracking, trying to deflect from the damage he did and blame Putin and the evil capitalists for fuel prices. The latter immediately began to rise when Joey was elected. Adults are keeping track of the facts.