Immigration has long been a contentious issue in the west. Those who opposed it used many tactics and strategies, some of which could be seen as moral such as tightening laws and controlling the borders, but in some cases, spreading fears and demonizing immigrants are also used as a weapon, most recently, the great replacement conspiracy theory has grown popular in the U.S., it’s even motivating its believes in inciting deadly violence.
The French author Renaud Camus first proposed the great replacement conspiracy theory. It stated that government leaders are conspiring to replace the white race with non-European ethnic groups, especially from countries with a Muslim majority, by allowing mass migration, demographic growth, and a drop in the birth rate of white Europeans. Camus published a couple of books that explain his ideas. His theory found supporters in many European countries, including politicians and anti-immigration groups.
In the last several years, the theory gained a foot hand in the U.S., especially by far-right groups. It could be readily argued that what fuels the adoption of this way of conspirational thinking is recently published data that shows the decline of the white race and the projection that by 2042 white Americans will make up less than half of the population, Advocates of the great replacement theory in the U.S. invested in these data and estimations to persuade their followers of its integrity.
Most recently, some of the violent mass shootings in the U.S. were motivated by this theory. It was reported that the 18-year-old man buffalo shooting suspect in NewYork that killed ten black persons and injured three posted a manifesto that frequently cited the great replacement theory, the 21-year-old Patrick Crusius attacker who opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, was also reported to be influenced by this theory and that it was motivated him to take the deadly action. In April 2019, a 9-year-old, John Earnest, opened fire inside a Chabad in California, leaving one dead and three injured. A report exposed that he shared a letter that mentions many conspiracy theories, including the great replacement theory.
Many politicians also endorsed the theory either directly or by implying its goals; for instance, Florida State Senator Dennis Baxley was reported to cite the theory in relation to the abortion debate arguing that a less birth rate will result in replacing that part with immigrants, in one of her campaign ads, the U.S. Representative for New York Elise Stefanik claimed that the radical democrats are planning to grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants to create a liberal majority in Washington. Republican Congressman also Scott Perry pushed the theory publicly during a committee hearing. In an interview with fox news, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of congress, echoed the sentiment of the theory, saying that he called anti-Americans left with down American classics with mass immigration.
The great replacement theory also seeped into the mainstream media, increasing the risk of finding more audience and supporters. In august 2019, Fox host Jeanine Pirro publicly claimed that there is a plot to remake America by replacing Americans with immigrants. In April 2021, white supremacists Tucker Carlson alleged that democrats import immigrants to dilute American voters.
Unfortunately, many individuals started to subscribe to ideas related to the great replacement conspiracy theory. A 2022 AP-NORC poll revealed that roughly one-third of the responders believed that there is some group trying to replace American-born with immigrants to help them in the elections. A May 2022 yahoo poll showed that 61% of trump voters agree with the great replacement theory.
In June 2022, the U.S. Congress passed a historic law that condemned the great replacement theory, the resolution was backed by many civil rights groups and organizations, and the resolution cited several mass shooting incidences that were motivated by the theory.
With far-right groups and white supremacists finding the theory very much aligned with their agendas and interests, the theory will probably keep existing for a long time to come; sharing facts about real and accurate numbers of the American demography could help in countering the theory in society and expose its incoherence. But we should also walk a mile in the shoes of the believers and understand how the creators of those theories invested in their fear and ignorance, then don’t judge them; instead, sympathize!