I don’t get it. Our nation is 246-years-old, rather young in comparison with most countries, and yet the white supremacists and the radical wing of the Republican Party are advocating the replacement of black, brown, Muslims and Jews with white Americans.
If it seems nonsensical, it is. To Fox TV’s Tucker Carlson and his ill-advised followers, the idea is to exploit the grievances of a minority of white people disgruntled over the loss of jobs and status. Since it cannot be their fault that they have not adapted to an economic reality that stresses information technology, it must be the fault of “others.”
Who are the “others?” They are different; they look different, they might speak differently and, in the case of the Jews, they are subject to the typical dog whistles of anti-semitism—but with a perverse twist. According to the twisted minds of replacement theorists, the Jews control corporate America and the media. Jews and elites are manipulating immigration to allow the entry of more non/whites.
Paranoia is a pernicious component of the replacement devotees as they observe the great strides made by Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. The white nationalists are not losing their country, just sharing it.
Their claims and concerns are absurd. They also are dangerous, another divisive element in our tribal country.
The principal objective is to stir hatred and mistrust. The worst result could be seen among those who precipitated the Jan. 6 insurrection, some wearing T-shirts with anti-Semitic messages. Fears of another Holocaust are pervasive.
Proponents of societal replacement are angry and frustrated. They have lost their jobs and homes. Their standard of living has dissipated. No one seems to care about them or families. They lash out with verbal attacks on their perceived enemies.
Domestic terrorism is a potent weapon. The recent killing of Blacks in Buffalo, the murder of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the hostage taking at a synagogue outside Dallas are all examples of deadly actions in the name of ethnic grievances. The theme was always the same: replace those who, inadvertently, are diminishing the importance of American-born whites.
The galling aspect of replacement thinking and its impact on American values is the lack of condemnation by mainstream Republican politicians concerned about antagonizing the far right. Decency is subordinate to political ambition and fundraising.
Republican leadership is dormant. Cowardice is commonplace. Feed the grievances with more hatred. Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Jews are fair game for hateful and disposable attacks, verbally and physically. Except it isn’t fair. It is, however, politically advantageous to mainstream Republicans.
In the best of all possible worlds, reconciliation and acceptance would triumph over replacement precepts. This country is young and vibrant. It can and does provide a blend of multiple races and creeds. Economic opportunity is not exclusive.
Republican leaders are failing to serve our country in the name of political gain, mixed with fear of extremist actors. Through silence, they condone misguided and malevolent behavior.
One word sums up the replacement theory: nonsense. Our country is stronger and healthier for its diversity and differences.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.