House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said “the country is in danger of imploding” while weighing in on the Buffalo, N.Y., shooting and the mood of Black voters in a wide-ranging interview published Friday.
“It’s just a mystery to me that we’ve become so tolerable of these kinds of incidents,” Clyburn told The Washington Post in an interview published in its Early 202 newsletter, referring to last weekend’s shooting in a predominantly Black neighborhood that left 10 people dead and three injured.
“It seems as if they were just supposed to happen then you go and wait for the next one to happen. And they’re going to keep happening,” he continued. “But look at where we are (in) the country. It seems to be it’s coming from all sides. You wonder whether or not people just decided that the pursuit of a more perfect union has come to an end.”
Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement, said that the shooting brought to mind the 2015 Charleston, S.C., church massacre in which nine members of a Black congregation were killed. The gunman had expressed white supremacist views online before the shooting and reportedly said he wanted to start a race war.
“Quite frankly, last year, this time I was in a different place than I am now,” Clyburn told the Early 202.
Asked to elaborate, he added, “I thought in difficult times that this too shall pass. I’m not too sure anymore. I’m really not.”
The House majority whip was also asked about the mood of Black voters in the U.S.
“Dangerous. The mood is very dangerous. It’s not a Democratic problem. It’s the country’s problem,” he said.
“The country is in danger of imploding. Democracy is in danger of disintegrating,” he added, saying “I don’t know why people feel that this country is insulated from the historical trends.”
The shooting in Buffalo has put a spotlight on the far-right “great replacement theory” after a screed allegedly posted by the white 18-year-old suspect espoused the theory, which alleges that there is an intentional effort taking place through immigration to replace white Americans with people of color.
Authorities say the suspect intended to carry out the attack in a neighborhood with a significant Black population, and 11 of the 13 victims in the shooting were Black.
Following the shooting, Democrats have accused Republicans of enabling white nationalism or endorsing the conspiracy theory, though some Republicans have hit back against the assertion.