Buffalo shooting, Center for American Progress, conservatives, Democrats, Great Replacement Theory, Hispanics, Im-Politic, Immigration, Latinos, Payton Gendron, racism, Republicans, Steve Phillips, white supremacy
The question in today’s title has been nagging me for some time, and since the appalling Buffalo, New York massacre has brought the “Great Replacement Theory” (GRT) back into the headlines, it seems like an especially good time to explain why.
It’s not that the GRT doesn’t exist, or that it hasn’t played a part in motivating white racist violence in America. The idea that elites have sought to reduce the political influence of native-born white Americans through means ranging from promoting racial integration to supporting mass immigration not only unmistakably exists; it’s got a pretty lengthy history. And it’s been explicitly cited in recent years to justify killings of members of various minority groups (see, e.g., here and here), including (somewhat confusingly), Jews, who evidently are viewed by many adherents as non-white. (Or is their sin being non-Christian?)
Accused Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron was a GRT believer, too – at least if a lengthy statement posted on-line shortly before his assault began really was – as widely believed – written by him.
But the claim that Republicans and other conservatives are the only non-fringe U.S. political figures who have written about the immigration version of GRT is flat wrong. It’s been explicitly in the nation’s political air since the issue achieved hot-button status in the mid-2000s with the outbreak of mass demonstrations by illegal immigrants and amnesty supporters and the Congressional battle over a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill. And the mentioners have prominently included Democrats and Mainstream Media journalists.
For example, as just reminded by (conservative) columnist Rich Lowry, in 2013, the Center for American Progress (CAP) – closely associated not with the Democratic party’s progressive faction but with its supposedly moderate “Clinton wing” – published a paper arguing that “Supporting real immigration reform that contains a pathway to citizenship for our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is the only way to maintain electoral strength in the future.”
Nor was the 2013 report a one-off CAP product. CAP Fellow Steve Phillips’ 2016 book Brown is the New White argued, according to his publisher, that “hope for a more progressive political future lies not with increased advertising to middle-of-the-road white voters, but with cultivating America’s growing, diverse majority.”
And in 2013, journalist Emily Schultheis wrote in that unerring guide to Inside the Beltway political conventional wisdom, Politico, that
“The immigration proposal pending in Congress would transform the nation’s political landscape for a generation or more — pumping as many as 11 million new Hispanic voters into the electorate a decade from now in ways that, if current trends hold, would produce an electoral bonanza for Democrats and cripple Republican prospects in many states they now win easily.”
Moreover, the haste with which President Biden moved to overturn many of his predecessor Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration policies and Congressional Democrats determination to stuff lenient immigration positions into the Build Back Better stimulus bill and the so-called China competitiveness bill strongly suggest they firmly believe these claims.
So are Republicans and conservatives and whites and anyone else worried about GRT right to fear being replaced – that is, about mass immigration’s potential to change America into something they would find odious and indeed un-American? That seems anything but clear.
This post does a good job of presenting the reasons for and against such Republican concerns (though the author is emphatically pessimistic). But these days, it suffers a major flaw: It’s five years old. And since its publication, there’s been abundant evidence not only from polls but from actual voting behavior that Republicanism – including its Trump version, has significant and growing appeal to Hispanic voters. Or is it that this group is increasingly turned off by what it’s been seeing of the Democrats lately? Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Either way, that doesn’t sound very Great Replacement-y to me.
Certainly, this latter trend is too short-lived so far to warrant tossing GRT fears onto the ash heap of history. But at the least it argues for immigration restrictionists turning down the GRT volume some, and focusing on what I view as the strongest arguments against the Open Borders-friendly policies so long pushed by most on the political left, along with Big Business’ Cheap Labor Lobby, and globalist and libertarian ideologues (many of course lavishly funded by that Lobby).
These concern the wage-depressing effect of mass immigration throughout the economy, and the national security dangers created by indifference to the matter of who exactly is entering and residing in the country, And given the power and money still at the command of the opposition, they should be more than enough to keep the restrictionists’ plates full for the foreseeable future.