Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Far Right's White-Extinction Conspiracy Myth

In addition to depicting racial minorities as a physical threat to whites - e.g., Trump repeatedly saying that Hispanics are rapists and criminals - the far right and white supremacist politicians are sending a message, in some cases overtly and in others through dog whistle messaging, that whites in the USA and Europe face extinction and that drastic action is needed to stop the decline of the white race.  This was certainly true of the mass murderer in New Zealand who even cited Trump approvingly.   It was also the message of white supremacists in Charlottesville in 2017 who chanted "you will not replace us." A column in the New York Times looks at this false and dangerous myth being utilized to inflame hatred and to bolster support for Republican candidates.  Ironically, outside of the Old South where whiteness gave status to those deemed "poor white trash," this myth plays best in regions with few minorities and, of course, among white Christofascists who almost by definition are anti-minority. Here are column excerpts:

“The Great Replacement” is a racist and misogynistic conspiracy theory that holds that white people face existential decline, even extinction, because of rising immigration in the West and falling birthrates among white women (caused, of course, by feminism).
That’s pretty much the whole argument; as a bit of rhetoric, the theory is about as deep as the one pushed by flat-earthers, though without that group’s scientific rigor. White people are not going extinct. As a group, they are only maybe, possibly, becoming a smaller share of the population in the United States and Europe — but how much smaller is a wide-open question among demographers, because the future is unknowable and demography is an imprecise science.
But what “The Great Replacement” lacks in any factual basis it makes up for in digital branding appeal. The white-extinction theory plays well online. It has found its greatest purchase among a certain type of basement-dwelling incel edgelord, to whom it offers both an explanation for self-pitying personal circumstance and a set of convenient antagonists (roughly, the blame falls on race-betraying, sexually empowered women; immigrants; and the Jews said to control the whole system).
The theory has also found a foothold in more mainstream political circles. Donald Trump has flirted with Twitter users who espouse white-extinction theory, Tucker Carlson caresses it lovingly every now and then, and Steve King grabs it by the baby.

For white supremacists, the new term {Great Replacement] offers several branding advantages. First, it sounds kinda smart. The phrase was coined in 2012, as “le grand remplacement,” by the French writer Renaud Camus, giving the whole movement a patina of ivory tower intellectualism. “Replacement” is also more polite than “genocide,” which fits with a long-term effort among white supremacists to craft a cleaner-cut image for themselves. . . 
[W]hen a man killed 50 people in a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week, he called his loopy manifesto “The Great Replacement.”
“The attacker was structuring his manifesto not only to speak to audiences but to algorithms,” said Joan Donovan, director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard. “‘The Great Replacement’ is a ‘data void,’ in the sense that it would be very easy to capture that space on the front page of Google.”
Research shows that when you present white people with facts that counter the white-extinction theory, they become less alarmed and anxious about demographic change. Racial categories are blurry, and there’s a big debate among demographers about how one of the fastest-growing racial groups — people of mixed-race who have one white parent — will identify in the future. It could be that they will not be thought of as “white.” It could also be that they will marry white people, have mostly white children, and generally become “absorbed” into mainstream white culture, which is what has happened with previous generations of immigrants who were not considered white (like Eastern and Southern Europeans). Under the most inclusive definitions of whiteness, America could remain a white-majority society indefinitely. [W]hite people are still by far the wealthiest Americans. The net worth of the median black American family is only around fifteen percent of that of the median white American family. While most other groups experienced a net decrease in wealth in the six years after the Great Recession, “white families' net worth was essentially unchanged,” according to government surveys. Whites are also less likely than people of other races to live in poverty, and they are more likely to be among the superrich. Just about every American chief executive, billionaire and large political donor is a white person. Sure, white political overrepresentation is likely to fall. But not quickly, and not drastically. According to one projection, in the 2036 election, 59 percent of voters will be white.
The Great Replacement is a lie. The country is becoming more diverse, but white people are not losing their grip on America, nor on the world, not by a long shot.

1 comment:

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

The rebranding allows them to promote their hateful worldview, indeed.
What’s also undeniable is that the repugs are now the party of white supremacists.