Michigan Republican spews deadly white supremacist conspiracy theory on Twitter

By Kyle Kaminski

February 9, 2024

State Rep. Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) is facing criticism—and calls to resign—after he amplified a racist conspiracy theory that has been used to justify murder.

MICHIGAN—A Republican state representative is facing calls to resign after he reposted a racist conspiracy theory on his Twitter profile that has been repeatedly used by white supremacists to justify acts of violence against people of color.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) retweeted an image in support of the “Great Replacement Theory”—a racist conspiracy that falsely asserts there is an active and covert effort to replace white populations in white-majority countries, like the United States.

The meme showed a map of the world, with figures of black silhouettes crowding around white silhouettes in the United States and Europe, with the caption: “The great replacement!”

Michigan Republican spews deadly white supremacist conspiracy theory on Twitter

The “great replacement” theory is a racist and antisemitic concept that relies on stoking fears that an inferior, non-white population is somehow determined to displace a superior, white majority in the US, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The man who allegedly shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York was reportedly obsessed with the theory, as was the suspect accused of a mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue and the killer behind another attack on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

The origins of the conspiracy dates back decades. And far-right extremists have leaned into the theory in recent years to justify acts of discrimination and violence against people of color—though it’s rare for elected officials to publicly endorse the white supremacist screed.

“Schriver knows what he is doing,” Sam Inglot, executive director of Progress Michigan, said in a statement. “This dangerous, racist and xenophobic rhetoric used to be relegated to the darkest corners of our society and now we have an elected state lawmaker not only hinting at supporting white nationalism, but blatantly pushing one of their most disgusting conspiracy theories. The Michigan Legislature is no place for racism, bigotry and extremism.”

Inglot added: “Schriver needs to resign.”

The original creator of the meme was Jack Posobiec, a far-right commentator and influencer who has reportedly been linked to white supremacists, neo-fascists, and antisemites. Since Schriver posted the meme on Tuesday, more than 450,000 people have viewed his post.

Schriver, Republican House Minority Leader Matt Hall, and other top Republicans in the state Legislature haven’t directly responded to Schriver’s post or the subsequent criticisms. But Democrats in Lansing have condemned the post—and are now demanding accountability.

“The abhorrent rhetoric pushed by a member of the Michigan House of Representatives goes against our state and national values,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement in response to Shriver’s remarks. “We have a moral obligation to speak out against hatred. It is a failure of leadership for this kind of action to take place unchecked by the leaders of Rep. Schriver’s caucus, and the longer there is no action taken, the more responsibility leadership bears.”

Schriver also faced criticism last month after he voiced plans for a legislative “endgame” to ban gender-affirming care—sometimes referred to as transition-related care—“for everyone,” regardless of their age or the deadly consequences of blocking access to health care.

This year, Schriver has also pitched controversial (and likely unconstitutional) plans to ban pornography in Michigan and change the way churches are taxed in the state—namely by removing tax exemptions for churches that don’t preach Schriver’s preferred religion.

“Rep. Schriver is repeating the same racist words we heard from neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville carrying swastika flags and torches,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes said in a statement. “This type of hate has no place in Michigan and must be called out any time it rears its ugly head. And yet, Michigan Republicans remain silent.”

Beyond calling for Schriver’s resignation, Progress Michigan has also urged Hall, as the leader of the House Republicans, to hold Schriver accountable and denounce his actions.

“The fact that Schriver feels so comfortable within the Michigan Republican Party blatantly pushing white nationalist theories just goes to show us all how far the Party has fallen into dangerous right-wing extremism given new life by the MAGA movement,” Inglot said.

Barnes, for her part, doesn’t expect Republicans to take quick action on the issue—especially as Hall continues to face accusations related to an alleged domestic assault from 2019.

“Hall won’t do anything to condemn Rep. Schriver or other members of his caucus that push dangerous, racist conspiracy theories,” Barnes said in a statement condemning Schriver’s remarks. “That tells you everything you need to know about so-called Republican leadership.”

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist also labeled Schriver’s recent post as a “deplorable demonstration of his fear of a dynamic and diverse future where all of our people in every community can succeed.”

“What is equally as abhorrent is the fact that this rhetoric has not been condemned in any serious way by Schriver’s Republican Party counterparts,” he said. “The silence is deafening.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 1:50 p.m. to include additional commentary from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

READ MORE: Leaders demand probe of ‘disturbing’ behavior from top Republican

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  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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