PHOENIX -- After a media report highlighting her use of language mirroring a racist conspiracy theory that was cited by white supremacist mass shooters, Flagstaff Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers doubled- and tripled-down on her assertion that immigrants are “replacing” white Americans and destroying “western civilization.”
Rogers on Saturday retweeted an article by far-right outlet Breitbart Texas about migrant apprehensions, along with the comment that “we are being replaced and invaded.” The language is the same used by those who promote the “Great Replacement Theory.”
That idea, popular among white supremacists, holds that white Americans are being replaced by immigrants. It has been seized upon by extremist groups such as the American Identity Movement and Generation Identity.
Rogers’s use of “great replacement” ideology caught the attention of journalist Nick Martin, who covers far-right racist extremism in America. Martin wrote that Rogers “echoed white supremacist rhetoric” and was being condemned by a local Jewish organization.
On Tuesday, Rogers addressed Martin’s coverage and the criticism she was facing by saying that Americans are being replaced and that it was the work of “communists & our enemies.”
“I will not back down from this statement. Communists & our enemies are using mass immigration, education, big tech, big corporations & other strategies to accomplish this,” Rogers said in another tweet.
Rogers also echoed another white nationalist talking point by later tweeting out “MAKE WESTERN CIVILIZATION GREAT AGAIN.”
Some white supremacist and extremist groups have focused their messaging on a crusade to save “western civilization,” linking their identities to ancient Greece and Rome as an attempt to turn “western civilization” into code for “white culture.”
Famously, former Congressman Steve King, who was deemed the most openly affiliated Congressman with white nationalism by the Washington Post, defended his views by saying he was defending “western civilization.”
“Senator Rogers’ statements are completely in line with the kind of bigoted dehumanzing rhetoric being used by white nationalists,” Lindsay Schubiner, program director at Western States Center said in a statement to Arizona Mirror. “Elected officials have a responsibility to stand up against bigotry and violence, and Sen. Rogers’ colleagues have an obligation to denounce her rhetoric if they do not wish to be implicated by it.”
In 2019, Rogers did just that when it served her political needs. In July of that year, she was mounting a campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen in the 2020 election. When Allen was caught on an audio recording denigrating non-white immigrants who were having more children than white women — a key concept in “great replacement” ideology.
“I denounce Sylvia Allen’s very racist statement,” Rogers wrote on Twitter.
Schubiner said Rogers should recognize the violence that comments like hers have inspired.
“The ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory has inspired a wave of white nationalist violence both in the U.S. and abroad,” she said. “At a time when anti-immigrant bigotry and violence in America is on the rise, Senator Rogers’ comments are dangerous.”
And local Jewish groups are speaking out against Rogers’s comments.
“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix is deeply concerned with Sen. Rogers’s use of extremist terms that have inspired some of the worst atrocities in recent history,” Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, told the Arizona Mirror. “Given the uptick of antisemitism and extremism in our state, and across the country, Rogers’ use of thinly-veiled hate speech is dangerous and has no place in the rhetoric of Arizona’s elected officials.”
Recently, a Tucson man was arrested for vandalizing a Tucson synagogue with a swastika and an antisemetic slur. Just three months ago, a group of neo-nazis marched in Phoenix.
“In the issue of migration, the additive ingredients needed are compassion and respect for human dignity,” Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Director of Community Engagement for Chicanos Por La Causa said to the Mirror. “What needs to be removed are xenophobic politics.”
Rogers did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy is a reporter for the Arizona Mirror, a non-profit independent Arizona news organization.