Among the more colorful, contemptuous, indecipherable and just plain ugly missives I’ve received for pointing out the Republican Party’s embrace of the racist, xenophobic “replacement theory” – which inspired the suspected mass killer in Buffalo and other murderers in Pittsburgh and El Paso – was a query put to me by a constituent of Arizona Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers.
Not only is Rogers an ardent peddler of the white nationalist “replacement theory,” which suggests that Democrats and “elites” are trying to flood the U.S. with brown and Black immigrants in order to secure political power, but she went so far as to suggest that the Buffalo shooting may have been a “false flag” event directed by the federal government.
That comment launched an ethics investigation into Rogers by her colleagues in the Arizona Senate.
The senators should have expelled her, but Republicans wouldn’t do it. Proof, in its own way, that believers in “replacement theory” have power within the GOP.
Is a Wendy Rogers voter a white nationalist?
The inquiry I received from a reader named Art, however, had more to do with him than with Rogers.
His R-rated question, edited to PG, was: “Montini, I’m wondering if you, a card-carrying (edited out) (edited out), would label me a white nationalist, just because I believe in Sen. Rogers and I am voting for her?”
Short answer: No.
I would not.
And there’s a fairly obvious reason why.
Relating 'replacement theory' to the Steelers
Let me explain it this way:
I was born and raised in a steel mill town north of Pittsburgh. During the 1970s, as I was growing up, the Pittsburgh Steelers featured future Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, “Mean” Joe Greene and more. The team won four Super Bowls in that decade.
The level of community pride, camaraderie, affection and loyalty that was engendered throughout greater Pittsburgh by that team cannot be quantified. Thousands of residents who previously have been casual fans became ardent believers.
What does that have to do with “replacement theory,” white nationalism and voting for Wendy Rogers?
It’s about choices.
We label ourselves by our choices
We make choices in life and it is those choices that define us, not what other people say about us.
For example, I have now lived in Arizona for much longer than I ever lived in Western Pennsylvania. Still, the last time the Steelers played the Arizona Cardinals at the stadium in Glendale, I attended the game wearing a throwback No. 58 Jack Lambert jersey, carrying an iconic Terrible Towel and sporting a black and gold ballcap.
Given that, was there any reason for other fans in attendance to label me a Steelers fan?
My choices made it obvious.
Now, I’m not sure if the ardent supporter of Sen. Rogers will get the analogy, but I suspect the rest of you will.
Reach Montini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Does voting for Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers make you a racist?