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Michigan House disciplines lawmaker over his tweets on racist theory

The Michigan House of Representatives stripped Republican lawmaker Josh Schriver of his staff members and a committee position on Monday, days after Schriver posted online about a racist conspiracy theory.

Schriver sparked furor last week when he shared a post on social media of an image captioned, “The great replacement!” The image referenced the far-right conspiracy theory that non-White immigrants are deliberately brought into White-majority countries to undermine the political power and cultures of White people.

Michigan House Speaker Joe Tate (D) announced the sanctions Monday morning and accused Schriver of promoting a “sustained campaign of racist rhetoric and hate speech.” Schriver doubled down on his post Monday evening, denying that sharing the image was racist.

“I’m not (and never have been) a racist,” Schriver wrote. “So I cannot offer a fake political apology for views I don’t hold.”

Schriver and Tate did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday afternoon.

Schriver, who was elected in November 2022 to represent parts of Macomb and Oakland counties in the Michigan House’s 66th District, will be removed from a position on the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee, though he will still be able to cast votes in the House, Tate announced. Schriver’s office staff will be reassigned.

Schriver’s two-year term ends in January 2025.

Tate said he punished Schriver to ensure the safety and security of House staffers.

“Representative 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 “great replacement theory” referenced by Schriver, once a fringe term largely associated with white nationalists, slowly entered the political mainstream after being increasingly embraced by Republican politicians to stoke fears about immigration, election integrity and border security. The conspiracy theory has inspired horrific violence in the past several years, and mass shooters — specifically in Buffalo and El Paso — have cited it as a reason for targeting communities of color.

Schriver on Tuesday shared a crude illustration of the conspiracy theory, depicting a map of the world with small groups of White figures in North America, Europe and Australia surrounded by Black figures across the rest of the planet.

State politicians on both sides of the aisle criticized the posts. Tate and two Republican colleagues, Rep. Donni Steele and Sen. John Damoose issued statements condemning the post as racist. They were joined by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II (D).

“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. “We have a moral obligation to speak out against hatred.”

As Schriver’s colleagues spoke out, he appeared to reaffirm his invocation. “What did I tweet that was false?” he wrote, alleging in follow-up posts that the denouncements against him were signs of an “anti-white agenda.”

Schriver continued to post about the conspiracy theory Monday evening.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post