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What is the Great Replacement? The Racist Conspiracy Theory that Claims Lives in the United States

There are many conspiracy theories in the USA. The Great Replacement is one of these and one of the most dangerous. Several racist attacks in North America are related to this idea

Police officers outside a supermarket after a shooting

Photo: TW-AlNavio

LatinAmerican Post | Moises Campos

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Leer en español: ¿Qué es el Gran Reemplazo? La teoría conspirativa racista que cobra vidas en Estados Unidos

The attack by a gunman on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, resulting in 10 deaths and at least 3 injuries, is the latest event where racism can be identified as the main motivating element. It is presumed that the suspect wrote a 180-page document loaded with content full of hatred towards the population of color, in which the influence that the theory known as the Great Replacement had on his actions is evident.

What Does this Theory Say?

The Great Replacement is a theory whose principle states that the arrival of a considerable number of immigrants of color to the United States has been promoted by certain political and economic classes of that country in order to achieve the reduction of the white population.

According to what is established in it, immigrants of color are brought to the United States in order to fulfill a political agenda whose purpose is to achieve the replacement of white voters by others whose votes can be obtained more easily.

This conspiracy theory has been taken up as a banner by white supremacists and anti-immigration groups. In addition, it is sometimes used in combination with some of the neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic beliefs in order to involve Jews as a promoter of this agenda.

What Are Its Origins?

The origins of The Great Replacement theory can be found in some works on French nationalism from the early 1900s. However, its use in these times has been attributed to the French writer Renaud Camus, through his book "Le Grand Remplacement " of the year 2011.

In the United States, another work that has been fundamental for the expansion of the theory is the novel "The Turner Diaries", written by William Luther Pierce under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The main theme of this book is a violent revolution that causes the extinction of non-whites. The Great Replacement theory has also been promoted by some very influential commentators on certain television networks since they have the ability to reach an audience that is estimated at about three million daily viewers.

Influence of Theory on Racist Attacks

In addition to the recent massacre in Buffalo this month, the Great Replacement theory has been used as a justification by the perpetrators of several massive attacks , including the following:

  • In 2015, a shooting took place at a church in South Carolina, leaving 9 people dead.
  • The 2018 attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh left 11 people dead.
  • The murder of 23 Latinos in 2019, at a Walmart store, in El Paso, Texas.
  • The 2019 shooting killed one person and injured three others at a synagogue in Poway, California.
  • In New Zealand, a gunman's attack on a mosque killed 50 people.

For all this, it can be assured that the Buffalo attack can be classified as the most recent tragedy in the world, which tries to be justified, if it can be said that way, through the anti-Semitic and racist discourse that can be found within the theory of the Great Replacement.

Although on a global scale, the majority of the population has rejected extreme racism, what causes concern to many specialists in this area is that the opinions of this theory are massively shared by anti-immigrant groups and have been progressively reaching more people.

Also read: Women in Afghanistan: Forgotten by the rest of the world

What Are the Dangers of this Theory?

Conspiracy theories are not based on foundations that can be scientifically proven, but take specific facts to build their postulates. In the case of the Great Replacement, events related to demography are considered by the followers of the theory as evidence. Although at present both the increase in immigration and the reduction in the birth rate are an undeniable reality, the media and statistical handling of these issues together with the estimated projections for the future are the facts taken as the basis for establishing the theory.

Throughout the history of humanity, the appearance of all kinds of conspiracy theories has been frequent. However, the potential danger of the Great Replacement is that it has encouraged individuals to take extreme positions and fostered hatred towards other races, cultures, and religions.

Theories such as flat earthing, which affirms that the Earth is not spherical but flat, or the one that says that epidemics are caused by governments to reduce the population, have not managed to promote in their believers situations so violent as to serve as a justification for committing massive attacks on other people.

In the United States, most of the shootings that have been perpetrated in the name of the Great Replacement theory have been directed against the African-American population. However, there and in other countries, attacks have also been carried out against other minorities such as Muslims, Jews, and Latinos.

For this reason, another of the latent dangers of the theory of the Great Replacement is that its effects on the most radical followers could be replicated in other countries to explain attacks against groups considered a minority, either because of their race, or religion, or political ideology.