The horrific massacre in Buffalo, New York, has created a debate over the “great replacement theory”, the rancid theory espoused by white supremacists that Jews are conspiring to destroy the influence of white Americans by importing non-white immigrants .
The Buffalo shooter was gripped by the theory, as were other racist and anti-Semitic killers.
The theory should be denounced by all people of good will, and indeed it only thrives in the most drained areas of the internet.
Yet there is an attempt to spread the theory about Republicans more widely and somehow blame them for the atrocities committed in Buffalo on this basis. The argument is that people like Elise Stefanik, a Republican Congresswoman from New York, have warned that the Democratic Party sees immigration as a way to change the electorate in their favor, and thus embeds the hateful ideology of replacement.
It is a defamation, and all the more perverse since the Republicans who are sounding the alarm on this Democratic vision are undoubtedly right. There was no secret cabal at work – it was all exposed, discussed by progressive political operatives and think tank analysts, and celebrated in the press.
The left-leaning Center for American Progress released a 2013 report titled “Immigration is Changing the Political Landscape in Key States.” He summed up his argument thus: “Supporting real immigration reform that contains a pathway to citizenship for our country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is the only way to maintain electoral strength in the future.
Books have been written about this idea. The widely quoted (and over-interpreted) 2004 book “The Emerging Democratic Majority” by John Judis and Ruy Teixeira called Democrats “the party of transition” because “white America is being supplanted by multiracial, multiethnic America “.
In 2016 Steve Phillips wrote “Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority”. Its publisher’s website states that the latest edition of the book asserts that “the hope for a more progressive political future lies not in increased publicity to middle-class white voters, but in the culture of the growing and diverse majority of America”.
Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 removed some of that sentiment as it made it clear that working-class white voters resent being talked about as if they were a relic of the past; and the 2020 election and its aftermath have made the assumption that Democrats will forever own Latino voters seem increasingly fragile.
But the left wants to create rules that make it perfectly acceptable for Democrats to advocate high levels of immigration as a way to gain political power, and out of reach for Republicans to call them there.
Washington Post writer Greg Sargent criticized Stefanik for allegedly flirting with the big replacement theory in Facebook ads last year. They warned that Democrats want a sweeping amnesty for undocumented immigrants to “upend our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
Never mind that Stefanik may have taken his warning directly from various leftist writers and advocacy organizations. Or that Sargent himself wrote after Barack Obama’s 2012 victory that the election had been “all about demographics” and the result showed the electorate was “not reverting to the older, whiter, and more masculine than Republicans had hoped.
What makes Sargent’s grassroots view different from Stefanik’s, other than the fact that he applauds the way immigration trends have changed our politics and doesn’t does not?
Immigration has been hotly contested throughout our history and is an inherently highly emotional issue, involving the composition of our politics and fundamental questions of national identity. It can only escalate the problem further by explicitly weaponizing demographic change, as the left has done for decades now. We should have an immigration policy that serves the national interest, not the narrow interest of any political party.
Yes, by all means avoid and further marginalize the replacement theory, but don’t support high levels of immigration for partisan reasons and expect the other side not to notice.
Rich Lowry is a syndicated columnist. He’s on Twitter: @RichLowry.
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