Michigan Republican faces sanctions for spreading racist conspiracy theory

By Kyle Kaminski

February 13, 2024

After amplifying a white supremacist conspiracy theory on social media, state Rep. Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) has been stripped of his legislative duties—and his office budget.

MICHIGAN—A far-right Republican state representative is facing the music in Lansing this week after he recently reposted on his Twitter profile a racist conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly used by white supremacists to justify acts of violence against people of color.

Last week, 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.

And this week, Schriver is facing the consequences of his blatant bigotry.

House Speaker Joe Tate on Monday said he will not allow the legislature to become a forum for “racist, hateful, and bigoted speech” and removed Schriver from the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee. Tate has also said that he will put Schriver’s office budget—and his staff—under the control of the House Business Office.

In a statement, Tate’s office told the Detroit News that Schriver will still be able to vote on legislation on the House floor, but his service on legislative committees and access to office resources and staff is now subject to the “discretion and pleasure” of the House Speaker.

“Schriver has a history of promoting debunked theories and dangerous rhetoric that jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents and contributes to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for others,” Tate said. “The House of Representatives is the people’s house, and all Michiganders should look upon this body and take pride in how we conduct ourselves. It is also a workplace, and I have a responsibility to make sure the employees of the House feel safe and secure.”

Schriver’s post 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!”

The “Great Replacement” theory is a blatantly 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 United States, 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.

Shortly after the image was posted last week, Schriver faced calls to resign, as well as sharply worded condemnations from both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

“The abhorrent rhetoric pushed by a member of the Michigan House of Representatives goes against our state and national values,” Whitmer said in a statement last week in response to Schriver’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.”

The original creator of the meme was Jack Posobiec, a far-right commentator and influencer who has been linked to white supremacists, neo-fascists, and antisemites. Since Schriver posted the meme last week, more than 500,000 people have viewed his post.

And while Schriver has only doubled down on the sentiment, Republican House Minority Leader Matt Hall and other top Republicans in Lansing haven’t directly responded to the criticism.

“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.”

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.

READ MORE: Schriver wants to target Church of Satan and make pornography illegal

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

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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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