Replacing Replacement Theory
If you are like me (and let’s face it- if you are reading this, you probably are), the first time you ever heard the term “Great Replacement Theory” came in the unfortunate aftermath of the mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in a predominately black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY back on May 14th of this year. Turns out that before mowing down ten innocent black patrons and injuring three more, the gunman wrote a white supremacy manifesto in which he ascribed his anger to the notions underpinning the Great Replacement Theory, an idea peddled by many right wing media outlets, including Fox News and Tucker Carlson, who the killer named specifically in his racist diatribe. But if you think you can just turn your back on this narrow-minded piece of right-wing bigotry and ignore its anti-intellectual discrimination, you better think again because polls show that over 50% of Republicans support this mindless drivel, and right-wing media is clearly using it to push a renewed white supremacy agenda.
So what exactly is replacement theory? Replacement theory is the notion that liberal Democrats are intentionally trying to lower the white population of the United States and “replace” white Americans with people of color through lax immigration policies and increased birth rates among black, Latino, and Asian populations in order to gain political advantage through enhanced voting demographics. Behind this lies a latent paranoia that white culture in America is under attack, and that if we are not careful and push back against encroaching minority populations, this nation will fall into the entitled hands of minority grifters.
But believe or not, this particular iteration of racist ideology is nothing new. Though it has re-emerged in the face of right-wing media outlets trying to stoke fear and anger into a white voting base in order to energize them to support polarizing Republican candidates, the ideas behind replacement theory go back over 100 years. For example, in F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s seminal 1925 classic, The Great Gatsby, resident racist Tom Buchanan suggests, “Have you read The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard? … Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.” Now, Fitzgerald himself was hardly a white supremacist. Instead, he uses this line to quickly inform the reader of the selfish and despicable nature of Tom’s character, aligning him with a fictional work that is a thinly-veiled representation of the real-world tome The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy by actual Klu Klux Klan leader Lothrop Stoppard, published five years earlier in 1920. Even as far back as the Great Depression, less than 60 years after slavery and the controlled procreation of blacks officially ended in the United States, the battle cry was being rung- The black community is coming to end white culture.
And to some degree, these unapologetic white supremacists are correct: white dominance and demographic majority are quickly eroding. For the first time in more than 100 years, white deaths in the U.S. over the past year exceeded white births. At the same time, earlier than predicted, the majority of births were to black, Hispanic, and Asian mothers. In 2013, William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution told the New York Times, “These new census estimates are an early signal alerting us to the impending decline in the white population that will characterize most of the 21st century.” The most recent 2020 census highlighted more racial diversity than ever, leading Nicholas Jones, the director of race, ethnicity, research and outreach for the Census Bureau’s population division, to suggest, “These changes reveal that the US population is much more multiracial, and more racially and ethnically diverse, than what we measured in the past.” The white, non-Hispanic population, without another race, decreased by 8.6% since 2010, according to the new data from the 2020 census. The U.S. is now 57.8% white, 18.7% Hispanic, 12.4% Black and 6% Asian. The numbers don’t lie folks. The per capita white population of America is steadily decreasing while the non-white minority population continues to increase. Soon, whites will not reflect a majority of the United States population.
But the inherently-prejudiced and racist nature of replacement theory is not derived from its supporting evidence, but the erroneous conclusions it formulates thereof. While white supremacists like Tucker Carlson pervert this demographical transition of United States population into a troubling conflict that reinforces their own twisted agenda, racial diversification of our nation should be seen as a good thing, not a problem to be solved. After all, isn’t that the whole idea behind the The Great Melting Pot ideology that was the basis for America’s greatness in the first place? Aren’t we a nation of immigrants made stronger by the diversity of thought and cultures that comprise the fabric of our communities?
But that notion doesn’t support the right-wing media game plan Why? Because they need to impose fear of racial conflict, positing white against non-white, in order to deflect from the unrecognized conflict that truly is undermining the strength of American culture: the schism of wealth that currently defines American society. Conservative leaders and media figures routinely engage in race baiting because it keeps economically-deprived, ignorant white people from correctly attributing the real source of their distress, namely wealthy white people who continue to take more and more out of the economic system for their own personal betterment, and instead deflecting their ire onto similarly economically-disadvantaged folks who just so happen to not share their ethnic identity. It is the ultimate red herring as non-whites have become the right-wing scapegoat for the economic condition of poor white people in order to distract from the greed of the CEO’s and stockholders who continue to grab a disproportionate share of our nation’s limited economic resources. By pitting poor whites against poor blacks and Latinos, it keeps both of those groups from banding together and facing their true common enemy: wealthy people who keep getting richer at the expense of the lower and middle classes.
Now you could make a pretty sound case that a similar phenomenon is transpiring on the left side of the aisle as well. Through a woke agenda that stokes the anger and resentment of minorities towards their white counterparts, they too willfully misalign the economic dynamic that creates the unfortunate circumstances for all economically-deprived families and instead substitutes race conflict for the true culprit of their misfortune. Both parties thus serve to keep the nation’s working class from banding together to demand better wages and more proportional distribution of our nation’s wealth. By stirring the pot of racial conflict, both the left and the right protect the country’s financial elite from becoming the rightful target of a united working class. And so, echoing the famous words of Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto, I plead with all Americans to put aside our false racial conflicts and “Workers of the world, unite!”
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com