EXPLAINER: Great Replacement Theory fuels racist attacks

BUFFALO, New York — A racist ideology seeping into the mainstream from the fringes of the internet is being explored as a motivating factor in the supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York. Most of the victims were black.

Ideas from “The Great Replacement Theory” filled a racist screed allegedly posted online by the white 18-year-old man accused of attacking black people in Saturday’s killing spree. Authorities were still working to confirm its authenticity.

The shooter’s racist intent was certainly not to be overlooked.

WHAT IS THE GRAND REPLACEMENT THEORY?

Put simply, it says that a conspiracy is afoot to reduce white influence.

Believers say this goal will be achieved both through immigration of non-white people into societies that have been largely white-dominated, and through simple demographics, with whites having lower birth rates than others.

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The more racist supporters of the theory believe that Jews are behind the so-called surrogate conspiracy. When white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, their chants included “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.”

A broader view in the US suggests that Democrats are encouraging immigration from Latin America so that more like-minded potential voters will replace “traditional” Americans, said Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism.

WHAT ARE ITS ROOTS?

How long has racism existed? Overall, its roots are so deep. In the US, you can point to efforts to intimidate and discourage Black people from voting – replacing white voters in elections – that date back to the post-Civil War era.

In modern times, most experts point to two influential books. ‘The Turner Diaries’, a 1978 novel written by William Luther Pierce under the pen name Andrew Macdonald, is about a violent revolution in the United States with a race war leading to the annihilation of non-whites.

The FBI has called it a “bible of the racist right,” said Kurt Braddock, an American university professor and researcher at the Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab.

A 2012 book by Frenchman Renaud Camus about the invasion of Europe by black and brown immigrants from Africa was called “Le Grand Remplacement” and a name was born.

WHO ARE YOUR FOLLOWERS?

For some of the more extreme believers, certain white supremacist mass murderers — in Norway in 2011, two New Zealand mosques in 2019, a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, a black church in South Carolina — are considered saints, Pitcavage said.

These “accelerating white supremacists” believe small societal changes won’t make much difference, so the only option is to tear society down, he said.

The Buffalo gunman’s alleged baiting and some of his apparent methods suggest he studied the New Zealand gunman closely, particularly efforts to live broadcast his killing spree. He reportedly wrote the number 14 on his gun, which Pitcavage says is short for a 14-word white supremacist slogan.

A “manifesto” by the New Zealand shooter was widely circulated on the internet. If the Buffalo shooter’s message proves authentic, it seems designed to convey its philosophy and methods to a large audience.

IS THE THEORY MORE APPLICABLE?

While more extreme forms of racism are clearly frowned upon, many experts are concerned about the mainstreaming of some views.

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 efforts are underway to replace US-born Americans with immigrants in order to win elections.

Many supporters of the more extreme versions of the Great Replacement Theory regularly discuss encrypted apps online and tend to be cautious. They know they are being watched.

“You’re very smart,” said Braddock. “They do not openly call to arms.”

WHO’S TALKING ABOUT EXCHANGE?

In particular, Tucker Carlson, Fox News’ most popular personality, has held erroneous but politically more palatable views that are viewed as sympathetic by some whites worried about a loss of power.

“I know that the left and all gatekeepers on Twitter literally get hysterical when you use the term ‘replacement’ when you imply that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters who are voting now, with new ones , more obedient people to replace third-world voters,” he said on his show last year. “But they get hysterical because that’s what’s happening, let’s just say it. That’s true.”

A five-year study by Carlson’s New York Times show found 400 instances in which he spoke about Democratic politicians and others trying to force demographic change through immigration.

RELATED | The suspect asked to leave the Buffalo supermarket a day before the shooting

Fox News pointed to repeated statements by Carlson denouncing political violence of all kinds.

The attention many Republican politicians are giving to what they see as a leaky southern border along the United States has been interpreted by at least some as a nod to concerns among whites about being “replaced.”

The campaign committee of House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik was criticized last year for an ad that said “radical Democrats” were plotting a “permanent electoral insurgency” by granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants who have a permanent Liberal majority would create in Washington.

Pitcavage said he was concerned about the message Carlson and some who agree with him are sending. “It actually introduces the Great Replacement Theory to a conservative audience in an easier-to-swallow pill,” he said.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/white-replacement-theory-explainer-what-is-mass-shooting/11856637/ EXPLAINER: Great Replacement Theory fuels racist attacks

Chrissy Callahan

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