The Great Replacement Theory is a vicious, surreptitious parasite that infects the minds of far-right politicians, ministers and trolls hiding in the darkest parts of the interweb. Its base form: non-white peoples are invading ‘white countries’ in an insidious attempt to replace white voters and bring about the end of the white race. Its roots are deep, going back centuries, and traditionally cast Jews as a global cabal of secret elitists manufacturing all that is wrong in this world. According to white nationalist supremacists, Jews are conspiring to bring non-white immigrants to white nations in an attempt to bring about a ‘white genocide,’ whereby all white people will be either massacred or turned into slaves.
Likely having its official origin in early French nationalism of the 20th century, it’s been referenced by the likes of Adolf Hitler, Tucker Carlson, Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, and dozens of mass shooters in several countries. It feeds off the fear of current white-majority populations that their way of life might change and fans the flames of otherness, which breeds hatred and misery. Naturally, the consequences of this fear hits hardest in communities deemed as ‘other’ by the majority population.
2013. Athens, Greece: A Pakistani man, Shehzad Luqman, is stabbed to death by two men linked to the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party. Eight months later, an anti-fascist rapper named Pavlos Fyssas is left to bleed out after a similar stabbing attack. For some time after the murder of Fyssas, there is scrawled on
the Academy of Athens, “If you’d have reacted to immigrant murders, Pavlos may be alive.”
2018. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States: The Tree of Life Murders, where eleven praying Jews-including Holocaust survivors-are gunned down by a man who had written previously, “HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
2019. Christchurch, New Zealand: The Christchurch Mosque Massacre, where 51 people praying are murdered by a white supremacist who live streams the first of his three attempted massacres. He runs over the body of a Muslim man he has shot, fires at men of African descent in his attempt to get away, but refrains from targeting white people as he guns down anyone in his path.
2022. Buffalo, New York, United States: A self-avowed 18-year-old believer of ‘The Great Replacement Theory’ drives three hours to murder 10 Black people shopping in a TOPS grocery store. He inscribes a number 14 on his gun, which prosecutors say is code for a 14-word white supremacist slogan. In court later, he will sob as the victims’ families describe how this senseless massacre has destroyed their lives.
2023. Allen, Texas, United States: Eight people are gunned down in a mall by a man carved with neo-Nazi tattoos and wearing a white supremacist clothing patch. Prominent Republicans try to dismiss the connections, including notably open racist Marjorie Taylor Greene, who attempts to point out the shooter’s supposed Hispanic last name as ‘proof’ he isn’t connected to white supremacy. This is of no comfort to the dozens of people impacted, nor of any particular
sense, given the shooter’s endless social media posts in which he fantasizes about being a murderer and pays homage to the Third Reich.
Rabbi Jezer, from Syracuse, New York, had this to say when interviewed by NYC Tastemakers. “Current white nationalism is an iteration of historic anti-semitism and other forms of racism. As demographics are changing, the majority white population is feeling threatened as other groups are growing in numbers and influence. Jews, no matter what their color, even if they are white, are considered as ‘others’ by white nationalists.”
Countries used to having primarily white populations are now being faced with the reality of humans: we move around a lot, especially when the nations we live in are currently under attack or suffering from economic distress. If we imagine history as a pendulum swinging back and forth, it becomes clearer to understand
why we are where we are. Every action has its equal and opposite reaction, which is unfortunately true as well in the political and social sphere. For instance, the 2008 election of Barack Obama to the presidency was, in the eyes of white nationalists, a massive and abrupt shift to the left. In turn, they corrected by pushing the ball as far to the right as they perceived the election to be to the left.
It is impossible for white nationalists to imagine non-white individuals succeeding honestly because the basis of the psychologically fragile movement is that of natural and inherent white supremacy. Any threat to this shaky foundation is perceived as a violent threat. Savvy politicians, convenient con men like Trump, and a public desperately looking for reasons why their lives are more difficult than their parent’s generation all create a firestorm of epic proportions. Add in a dash of Christian ultra-right evangelicalism, and it’s one of literally Biblical proportions that threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It is
difficult to understate just how intrinsically tied many forms of current white nationalism are linked to Christianity. The GOP-and other far right parties like them in other nations-has for decades courted an increasingly fringe and extremist group of evangelical Christians who disavow science and rely on increasingly exaggerated interpretations of the New Testament. Take the Duggars, whose wildly popular TV show 19 Kids and Counting showcased a lite version of their ultra-evangelical beliefs. The public lapped up the seemingly innocent adventures of this large family, unaware that behind the smiling faces lay child sexual abuse scandals, a cult training of a new generation of white Christian fundamentalists, and a refusal to acknowledge that racism even exists, let alone its impacts on hundreds of millions of Americans.
Jeremy Vuolo, the pastor husband of Jinger Duggar (who has received much positive press for leaving the cult of IBLP to walk straight into another one), signed a document along with thousands of other pastors who directly speak against social justice movements.
“We reject any teaching that encourages racial groups to view themselves as privileged oppressors or entitled victims of oppression. While we are to weep with those who weep, we deny that a person’s feelings of offense or oppression necessarily prove that someone else is guilty of sinful behaviors, oppression, or prejudice.”
Remember: this is from a family who became famous for showing off nonthreatening Midwest recipes like Canned BBQ Tuna and their endless crop of children (who were left to raise themselves as soon as they were weaned). While the Duggars are perhaps the most straightforward example, there’s no denying the truth: white nationalism has seized upon evangelical Christianity to spread
its message. This sort of tie makes it even more challenging to confront. Fear, in its basic form, is relatively easy to correct. After all, shining a flashlight under the bed will show a child there is no monster and that their fear is unfounded. Fear, when it is intertwined with religious and cultural beliefs, turns into a mantra of superiority. It justifies and feeds the fear, which in turn spurs hatred and tolerance for ignorance. All this is power, which bottom-feeder opportunists (Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, FOX News, Marjorie Taylor Greene, etc.) crave and exploit. A population afraid is a population easy to control: Just look at Hitler’s Germany. The only way to confront our fears is head-on, with bravery and grit. If we do not, we are doomed to repeat the atrocities of our past.
*The author would like to qualify that I do not believe Christianity to be an inherently racist or hateful religion. It is unfortunate that a religion based on the words “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is being used to perpetuate hatefulness. I also do not believe religion to be inherently destructive. The hateful choices of individuals are often far beyond the conception of those who follow the true tenets of peace, love, and kindness. We must all choose kindness every single day and face the fear that comes along with the unknown.