Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by – and often relies upon – the cowardice of mainstream institutions
edited by O Society August 6, 2019
This conspiracy story influence killers from Germany to New Zealand to El Paso.
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
^ These words ^ appear in a manifesto published shortly before the deadly shooting in El Paso on Saturday. More than half of so-called “alt-right killers” are motivated by the so-called “white replacement” story, which refers to the belief white people are being systematically replaced by black and brown migrants. The killer in El Paso, who law enforcement believes authored the memo, is apparently no exception.
The white replacement story is actually made up of two sub-conspiracies: “the great replacement” story, which originated in France, and “the white genocide story”, which comes from the US. Together, the stories are among the most widespread ideologies in far-right spaces, and the primary catalysts of far-right mass violence.
The great replacement story can be understood in general as two core beliefs:
The first is “western” identity is under siege by massive waves of immigration from non-European/ non-white countries, resulting in a replacement of white European individuals via demographics.
The second is replacement is orchestrated by a shadowy group as part of their grand plan to rule the world, which they will do by creating a completely racially homogeneous society. This group is often overtly identified as being Jews, but sometimes the antisemitism is more implicit.
These beliefs proliferate in mass killer texts for the past eight years. They are generally understood as origin with Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass shooter whose 1,500-page manifesto expressed a fear of white ethnic replacement by migrants from the Middle East and North Africa.
This same fear crops up in the manifestos of several more mass killers in Europe, before making its way to the rambling screed published by the Christchurch shooter, titled The Great Replacement. The Christchurch manifesto begins with: “It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates.” It is directly inspired by Breivik – and he, in turn, inspired the El Paso shooter.
The El Paso shooter begins his text by writing: “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
Despite is recent proliferation, the great replacement story was first popularized decades ago in the 1973 novel Le Camp des Saints (The Camp of the Saints) by Jean Raspail – a vastly influential book in contemporary white supremacist discourse.
In this work of speculative fiction, Raspail paints an apocalyptic picture of the complete collapse of all western society and culture stemming from a “tidal wave” of immigration from the “third world”. Over the course of the 20th century, the theory proliferated in different white supremacist and ethno-exclusion spaces. It was in 2010, however, that the great replacement theory truly took flight.
The white supremacist Renard Camus introduced the term in his book De l’Innocence, warning of the replacement of white Europeans by peoples coming from the Middle East and North Africa. This is the text that influences much of the white supremacist discourse that we see today, and fuels the growing “identitarian” movement around the world. Identitarians advocate for an ethnically and racially heterogeneous world; they believe that racial mixing (ie sex and reproduction between people of different races) weakens the fabric of our society and is an imminent threat to the stability of majority-white, western nations – as well as the world.
In the memo believed to have been written by the El Paso shooter, he writes: “I can no longer bear the shame of inaction knowing our founding fathers endowed me with the rights needed to save our country from the brink of destruction. Our European comrades don’t have the gun rights needed to repel the millions of invaders that plaque [sic] their country. They have no choice but to sit by and watch their countries burn.”
Though it is difficult to write about without giving platform to these mass shooters and their ideas, it is important to understand precisely what beliefs are galvanizing many of the mass shootings we are seeing today. It is important to understand that white replacement is a transnational idea and discourse, influencing killers from Germany, to New Zealand, to here in the US. It is a widespread fear of ethnic replacement, shifting to suit the context of the place in which is presents.
In the US, a fear of ethnic replacement by migrants from South and Central America. It is also made much more deadly by the US’s epidemic of available guns, which cause 251 mass shootings in 2019 alone.
The great replacement is a deadly conspiracy – as well as one that is immensely popular on social media and among fearmongers like Tucker Carlson, whether it is overtly referred to or merely dog-whistled. It is vital we understand the origins and implications of the theory, even as we strive to diminish its platform. The great replacement is spreading like a virus; we must find a way to inoculate against it.
There, fixed it.