What is the “Great Replacement Theory” and how does it fuel racist violence?
NEW YORK (AP) — A racist ideology seeping from the fringes of the internet into the mainstream is being investigated as a motivating factor in the supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York. York. Most of the victims were black.
Ideas from the ‘great replacement theory’ filled a racist document supposedly posted online by the 18-year-old white youth accused of targeting black people during Saturday’s rampage. Authorities were still working to confirm its authenticity.
Certainly, there was no doubt about the racist intention of the shooter.
What is the “Great Replacement Theory”?
Simply put, the conspiracy theory says there is a conspiracy to diminish the influence of white people.
Believers say this goal is achieved both through the immigration of non-white people into largely white-dominated societies, as well as through sheer demographics, with whites having lower birth rates than other populations.
The most racist conspiracy theorists believe Jews are behind the so-called replacement plan: White nationalists marching at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly in 2017, chanting “You will not replace us! and “The Jews will not replace us!”
More mainstream opinion in the United States baselessly suggests that Democrats encourage immigration from Latin America so that more like-minded potential voters replace “traditional” Americans, says Center senior fellow Mark Pitcavage. of the Anti-Defamation League on extremism.
What is the origin of this conspiracy theory?
How long has racism existed? Generally speaking, the roots of this “theory” run so deep. In the United States, you can point to efforts to intimidate and discourage black people from voting — or, according to antagonists, “replacing” white voters at the polls — this Reconstruction-era date, after the 15th Amendment made it clear that suffrage couldn’t be limited because of race.
In the modern era, most experts cite two influential books. “The Turner Diaries”, a 1978 novel written by William Luther Pierce under the pseudonym of Andrew Macdonald, is about a violent revolution in the United States with a race war that leads to the extermination of non-whites.
READ MORE: How the attack on the US Capitol highlights the challenges of countering right-wing extremism online
The FBI called it “the bible of the racist right,” says Kurt Braddock, a professor at American University and a researcher at the Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab.
Renaud Camus, a French writer, published a book in 2011 claiming that Europe was being invaded by black and brown immigrants from Africa. He called the book “The Great Replacement”, and the name of a plot was born.
Who are its members?
For some of the most extreme believers, some white supremacist mass killers – in a summer camp in Norway in 2011, two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques in 2019, a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, a black church in Charleston , South Carolina, in 2015 — are considered saints, Pitcavage says.
These “accelerationist white supremacists” believe that small societal changes won’t do much, so the only option is to tear society down, he says.
The Buffalo shooter’s alleged written rant and some of the methods indicate he studied the Christchurch shooter closely – particularly the effort to live-stream his rampage. According to apparent screenshots from the Buffalo show, the shooter has the number 14 on his gun, which Pitcavage says is shorthand for a 14-word white supremacist slogan.
A written statement from the Christchurch shooter has been widely circulated online. If the message attributed to the Buffalo shooter turns out to be authentic, it also aims to spread his philosophy and methods to a wide audience.
Does the theory make broader breakthroughs?
While the most virulent forms of racism are widely abhorred, experts fear that extreme views are nonetheless becoming common.
In a poll released last week, the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 1 in 3 Americans believe an effort is underway to replace Americans born in the United States with immigrants in electoral purposes.
Regularly, many adherents of the more extreme versions of the “great replacement” theory converse via encrypted apps online. They tend to be cautious. They know they are being watched.
“They’re very smart,” says Braddock. “They don’t make overt calls to arms.”
Who talks about this theory?
In particular, Tucker Carlson, Fox News’ most popular personality, pushed false opinions that are more easily embraced by some white people who fear a loss of political and social power.
“I know the left and all the Twitter gatekeepers literally go hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement’, if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters who are voting now, with new people, most obedient Third World voters,” he said on his show last year. “But they get hysterical because that’s what’s actually happening, let’s just say. It’s true.”
A five-year study of Carlson’s show by The New York Times found 400 instances where he spoke about Democratic politicians and others seeking to force demographic change through immigration.
Fox News defended the host, pointing to Carlson’s repeated statements denouncing political violence of all kinds.
LOOK: The influence of Tucker Carlson and his increasingly extreme views
The attention paid by many Republican politicians to what they see as a receding southern border along the United States has been interpreted, at least by some, as a nod to the concern of white people who fear to be ‘replaced’.
House Republican Conference Speaker Elise Stefanik’s campaign committee came under fire last year for an ad that said ‘radical Democrats’ were planning a ‘permanent election insurrection’ by granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants. papers that would create a permanent liberal majority in Washington. Stefanik represents a neighborhood in New York.
Pitcavage says he is concerned about the message sent by Carlson and his followers: “It actually presents the ‘big replacement theory’ to a conservative audience in an easier-to-swallow pill.”