Michigan state lawmaker loses staff, committee post after sharing racist conspiracy theory

Republican State Rep. Josh Schriver of Oxford, Mich., was stripped of legislative staff resources and a committee assignment on Monday amid a furor over his sharing of a social media graphic advocating the far-right "great replacement" theory. Photo courtesy of Michigan House of Representatives

Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A Republican state lawmaker from Michigan was stripped of staff resources and a committee post on Monday following his reposting of a social media graphic advocating a racist conspiracy theory.

Freshman state Rep. Josh Schriver of Oxford, Mich., saw his state-supplied staff reassigned to other lawmakers and has been removed from the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee in a move announced by House Speaker Joe Tate.

Tate, a Democrat from Detroit, said Schriver's reposting last week of a graphic authored by a right-wing commentator about the "great replacement" theory on the X social media platform amounted to "racist, hateful and bigoted speech."

"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.

While Schriver will still be able to participate in voting, the speaker said he is taking advantage of his discretion to allocate resources and committee assignments within the Capitol chamber.

"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," he said. "It is also a workplace, and I have a responsibility to make sure the employees of the House feel safe and secure."

Tate and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first spoke out against Schriver's social media activity last week, when he shared a post of a map produced by right-wing figure Jack Posobiec. The map showed Black human figures placed across most of the world, with white figures inhabiting much a smaller area, including the northern United States and northern Europe.

At the bottom of the graphic was the statement, "The great replacement!"

"The abhorrent rhetoric pushed by a member of the Michigan House of Representatives goes against our state and national values," Whitmer said Friday. "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 "great replacement" theory is a racist narrative that falsely asserts there is an active, ongoing and covert effort to replace white populations in current white-majority countries with a non-white population, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

These efforts are frequently linked to shadowy "elites" or "globalists," often portrayed as Jewish. The theory was cited by prosecutors as a motivation for the gunman who killed 10 people at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in May 2022.

After the shooting, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul asked Attorney General Letitia James to investigate social media platforms seeking to give credibility to the "great replacement" theory.

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League points to former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson as a "key promoter" of the theory, claiming he "elevated the conspiracy theory that Democrats are plotting to replace 'legacy American' voters with immigrants."

Schriver defended the post to the The Detroit News last week, saying he is not a racist.

"I'm opposed to racists, race baiters, and victim politics," he said. "What I find strange is the agenda to demoralize and reduce the white portion of our population. That's not inclusive and Christ is inclusive! I'm glad Tucker Carlson and Jack Posobiec are sharing links so I can continue my research on these issues."