Right-wing media figures exploit anti-immigrant riots in Ireland to demonize migrants and Muslims, and attack legal immigration

Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and others pushed the “great replacement” conspiracy theory and falsely portrayed immigrants as threats to public safety

Right-wing media figures reacted to anti-immigrant riots in Ireland by demonizing Muslims, falsely accusing migrants of being a risk to public safety and attacking the very idea of legal immigration. Their response is an escalation of the xenophobic rhetoric that right-wing media frequently direct at unauthorized migration, and is a clear attempt to push for policies that would drastically reduce legal immigration levels.

The riots in Dublin were sparked after early reports on November 23 that an Irish citizen who allegedly stabbed five people, including three children, was believed to have been born abroad — thus highlighting the suspect’s perceived foreignness. Subsequent reporting found that although the alleged attacker was apparently born in Algeria, he has lived in Ireland for at least 20 years, according to Irish authorities. Numerous studies have found that increased levels of immigration do not cause a rise in crime rates either in the United States or European countries.

This manufactured panic and demonization of a marginalized group echoes a similar episode from last week, when Fox News invented a terrorism scare over a car crash at the U.S.-Canada border and used the nonexistent plot to paint Muslims, Arabs, Palestinians, and their supporters as the culprits, only to retract its reporting hours later. Anti-Muslim hate incidents have also skyrocketed during Israel’s bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip after Hamas’ attack on October 7.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon exploited the Dublin attack to spread his anti-immigrant message across multiple platforms, including his own War Room podcast as well as Tucker Carlson’s show on X (formerly Twitter) and Donald Trump Jr.’s streaming show on Rumble, a far-right competitor to YouTube. In several of these segments, Bannon and his interlocutors endorsed versions of the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which holds that liberal elites are attempting to change the demographics of white-majority countries through mass migration from the Global South to maintain political and economic dominance.

Prior to Fox News’ firing of Carlson, he was the network’s — and perhaps the entire country’s — most visible proponent of the great replacement theory. During Bannon’s appearance on Carlson’s show on November 27, both figures pushed openly nativist bigotry alongside the racist conspiracy theory.

Bannon referred to migrants to the United States and Ireland as “alien invaders,” adding that Irish politicians have “sold out the sovereignty of the Irish” and that the riots were “natural blowback.”

“The Irish government is trying to replace the population of Ireland with people from the Third World, obviously,” Carlson responded. “But why? What's the justification for that?”

“You talk about the great replacement theory and people are — oh, you know, people get very upset when you talk about it, but just look at the math,” Bannon answered.

“It’s not a theory,” Carlson interjected.

“This has happened across Europe,” Bannon continued. “It's happened in Germany.”

“In 100 years, there'll be a minority of Irish people in Ireland,” Carlson said. “That's a big change, and it's on purpose.”

Later in their conversation, Bannon endorsed mass deportations, saying: “I think illegal alien invaders are coming because they've gamed the asylum system. My belief is those people have to go home. They have to be returned, they have to leave our country or we're not going to have a country.”

Later that day, Bannon appeared on Donald Trump Jr.’s Triggered to celebrate Hungary’s far-right authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán and Irish mixed martial arts fighter Connor McGregor, who had come under police investigation following anti-migrant social media posts.

Video file

Citation From the November 27, 2023, edition of Triggered, streamed on Rumble

Former President Donald Trump fought “for the sovereignty, not just of nation-states, but the sovereignty of the individual citizens in those nation-states,” Bannon said. “I think it's inspired Orban in Hungary. I think McGregor in Ireland standing up the other day was inspired by Donald Trump.”

The discussion then turned to the knife attack in Dublin, with the host claiming Arab and Muslim cultures celebrate anti-social violence.

“In their culture, they can stab people in the streets. It's fine. We must allow them to do that to our children,” Trump Jr. facetiously said, adding, “I mean, the government is taking an actively hostile position against their citizens in favor of, like, seemingly savages in many cases.”

Bannon returned to the subject the next day on his War Room podcast, calling for the “deportation of the 9 million — at least 9 million to 10 million — illegal alien invaders coming in the Biden regime.”

“What happened in Ireland — it's all coming here, folks,” Bannon warned ominously. “It’s all coming here.”

His guest the following hour was conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has been increasingly embraced by right-wing media in recent years. Jones falsely claimed that “illegal aliens or migrants” are responsible for “the majority of muggings, rape, and murder in every European country."

That evening, Bannon discussed the violence in Ireland in another episode of War Room, where his guest, author Michael Walsh, again pushed the great replacement conspiracy theory.

“This was the spark that set off what’s become a powder keg across the country, which is the notion — widely held among the Irish people — that they’re being replaced by foreigners,” Walsh said. He added that the Irish government “is committed to this program of quiet replacement and has demonized what we would have called Irish patriots,” referring to the far-right mobs.

Several other right-wing media figures also used the riots to spread anti-migrant bigotry.

  • BlazeTV’s Steve Deace defended the mob, arguing that “the Irish Proud Boy wannabes” are “not the villain here,” suggesting they “have had enough” and feel like “I’ve already lost my culture to Islam. Now our daughters are getting raped and assaulted” by the “rape-fugees we brought in.”

  • “Concerned citizens in Dublin, Ireland look on helplessly as busloads of undocumented migrants are brought into their community,” anti-LGBTQ social media account Libs of Tik Tok posted on X (formerly Twitter).

  • Salem Media’s Charlie Kirk questioned “how Ireland allowed so many foreigners and Third-Worlders into the beautiful country of Ireland?"

  • Self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer blamed the attack on a “Muslim migrant."

    "Across the West, the status quo has become intolerable,” Loomer added. “The endless waves of immigrants, the devastation of our culture, and the crackdown against anyone who dares to stand against it has all become too much to bear.”

    “There can be no doubt that the average person is, at last, awake to the gravity of the situation, and their anger is brewing,” Loomer continued. “White people, in particular, have taken all of this on the chin for the last few decades, but that appears to be coming to an end.”

  • Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis argued that regardless of the suspect’s citizenship status, he “was an immigrant nonetheless,” claiming the incident was further evidence that “Europe is at the precipice of falling."

Following the riots, some observers of the far right argued that anti-immigrant sentiment had become a major issue in Ireland in recent years, and that politicians needed to do more to address the rising xenophobia. Right-wing media figures are determined to stand in the way.