The “Great Replacement” Fixation

I first encountered the “Great Replacement” theory when I read about the neo-Nazi, “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville. The marchers–bearing tiki torches–reportedly chanted “Jews will not replace us.” (Those chanting were subsequently called “very fine people” by then-President Donald Trump.)

Since I never watch Fox News, I’d missed Tucker Carlson’s full-throated endorsement of that particular conspiracy theory, but as time as passed, I’ve come to understand its roots, and the reason it appeals to White Americans terrified by the prospect of losing cultural dominance. America’s demographics are changing, and it is probable that Whites will be a minority population within a few years. Meanwhile, legal and cultural changes have allowed women and minority folks–Blacks, Jews, Latinos, LGBTQ+ citizens–to become more prominent. Television anchors, elected officials, movie stars and various other celebrities  increasingly come from groups that have been previously marginalized.

It’s no longer possible to ignore these changes.

The result is a palpable panic on the part of those Whites–mostly men, but also some women–who believe that their rightful place in society has been usurped. And that fear of replacement, that realization that they will need to share status with people they disparage, requires a villain. It can’t simply be an accident that “those people” are gaining in numbers and influence. It must be a plot!!

Jamelle Bouie recently wrote about Elon Musk’s obvious fascination with and belief in the “Great Replacement Theory.” Musk recently elevated a slick propaganda film pushing the theory on X (formerly Twitter), confirming the devolution of that site into a cesspool of far-Right anti-Semitism and racism.

Musk is especially preoccupied with the racial makeup of the country and the alleged deficiency of nonwhites in important positions. He blames the recent problems at Boeing, for example, on its efforts to diversify its work force, despite easily accessible and widely publicized accounts of a dangerous culture of cost-cutting and profit-seeking at the company….

Is diversity the problem at Boeing, or is it a shortsighted obsession with maximizing shareholder value at the expense of quality and safety? Musk, a wealthy shareholder in various companies — including his own, Tesla, which is being sued by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly allowing racist abuse of some of its Black employees — says it’s diversity.

Bouie goes on to discuss Musk’s “current obsession” with the “great replacement,” the far-right accusation that liberal elites are “deliberately opening the southern border to nonwhite immigration from Mexico, South and Central America in order to replace the nation’s white majority and secure permanent control of its political institutions.”

The “great replacement” was part of the centerpiece of Tucker Carlson’s message to viewers during his time on Fox News. It is touted by a number of anti-immigrant, white nationalist and white supremacist groups. It was featured prominently at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, where neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us.” And it has inspired at least four separate mass shootings, including the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh (11 killed), the 2019 Christchurch shootings in New Zealand (51 killed), the El Paso shooting the same year (23 killed) and the 2022 supermarket shooting in Buffalo (10 killed).

It should go without saying that the “great replacement” is idiotic. There is no “open border.” There is no effort to “replace” the white population of the United States. Racial diversity is not a plot against the nation’s political institutions. And the underlying assumption of the “great replacement” — that, until recently, the United States was a racially and culturally homogenous nation — is nonsense.

Not only does acceptance of the theory require people to ignore inconvenient facts, it rests–as Bouie points out–on a fundamental fallacy: that racial and ethnic identity also and inevitably translates into political identity. In other words, it assumes that Blacks and Latinos will always vote for Democrats.

I think Bouie has identified the most consequential flaw of today’s GOP.

Republicans used to understand that politics is the art of addition–that winning a political contest requires reaching out to independents and others–including minorities– who haven’t previously voted for you. Instead, MAGA Republicans are doubling down on subtraction; not only do they fail to reach out to members of minorities who might consider supporting their candidates (the Black community, for example, is overall fairly socially conservative), they are even doing their best to expel “RINOs” –including anyone who dares to criticize Trump– from what has become a defensive cult.

The irony is that the GOP is hastening the day when a replacement will actually occur–the replacement of the GOP with a sane center-Right political party.

A large enough defeat in November will speed that process.


  1. It seems to me that what the GOP fails to recognize is that if there is a turd floating in your punch bowl, you do not have to drink the punch. What you need to do is throw out the whole thing and get a new punch bowl.

  2. The sitting Republicans who believe they are supporting the real GOP by (“standing back and standing by” waiting for a comeback opportunity) are now among the strongest supporters of Trump’s MAGA, White Nationalist, Freedom Caucus party by their silence and idleness in their elected positions. Still supported by their voters at home who trust them to protect them from Trump’s home-grown terrorists and terrorism as their justice system fails all of us by slowing any current criminal convictions to remove him from his candidacy. I haven’t forgotten that Trump is still an unindicted co-defendant in the Meuller Report or that stalling out the “hush money” trial could be running out the clock on the statute of limitations on that case and many others waiting to be filed.

    My “near panic” is based on the loss of my rightful position as an American citizen watching my rights being repealed and replaced by dictatorship. Is American citizenship now considered to be a “place in society”?

  3. Democrats need to respond to this constant repetition of thr open border BS by bringing up the great replacement, get them on the record as either supporting or opposing this racist theory.

  4. How did being born white become anything other than a code on a strand of genetic material? Why does it seem to confer some specialness for some? I wonder if that code is also marked for self-induced delusion, for some folks.

  5. I know the MAGA crowd erupted after the Baltimore mayor showed up in a sweatshirt to address the nation after the cargo ship removed his bridge. He was being called the “DEI Mayor” because he was black. Not to mention, the captain of the ship was Ukrainian, which caused the MAGA conspiracy nuts. They thought the CIA planted explosives to take out the bridge.

    The Baltimore Mayor was interviewed afterward and said the DEI label is the new word for nigg**. Btw, the Mayor received 70% of the votes from registered voters. That’s amazing!

    It’s why DeSantos and other MAGA governors are eliminating DEI programs from businesses and universities. And yes, Musk claimed that the Democrats (Biden) were intentionally letting in dark-colored people so they’ll vote for Democrats. It wasn’t one of his best moments, for sure. I’m not sure, but the Latin nations south of the border mainly have brown skin, so there is no conspiracy to invite brown people into our country.

    The far-right has risen to power across the country, mainly in Europe and the US, because of immigration and the fear of being replaced. They also fear Islamists in their country because they’ve been told that Islamists want to replace their government with Sharia Law. Europeans want them deported.

  6. Musk’s background is from apartheid South Africa. What else would you expect from the scion of an emerald miner?

    This statement says ever so much about corporate culture in America: “Is diversity the problem at Boeing, or is it a shortsighted obsession with maximizing shareholder value at the expense of quality and safety?” Having worked in the aerospace industry for some time, it’s clear that the cost accountants have replaced the visionary professionals and engineers at Boeing. Once that happens in an industry where safety is supposed to be the number one issue, it became inevitable that the recent Boeing problems would happen. Look for more of these “incidents” to emerge until Boeing purges itself of the profits-before-people types who think killing customers is just the cost of doing business. In Boeing’s case, diversity has nothing to do with anything.

    But the theme of terrified, gun-fondling, ignorant and threatened white guys will never go away either. These tribalist will cling to every shred of “power” they have until the very end of their lives – and the life of our democracy.

  7. If a sane center-right party is ever to emerge, conservatives who really want it are going have to stop calling themselves Republicans and stop voting for Trump loyalists, sycophants, and enablers. And if they’re not going to start voting for sane candidates in the primaries, they’re going to have to vote for Democrats in the general election for more than a few cycles. It’ll take more than one election to crush the cult.

  8. At the risk of being swatted for the rest of the day…I do think it doesn’t help when the New York Times, Academy Awards, etc. go out of their way to feature/callout as overlooked, “count how many”, etc. gay, minority, female, etc. of everything (in the case of the Times, virtually every day). I know they are making up for lost time, but…it seems to pour salt on our racist wounds while feeding the “elites v/s us” thing.

  9. James, I love that comment!
    Yes, Patrick, if they can’t do, or even find, sane candidates, they will have to od the other, and it will take a while.
    DeSantis , and others are eliminating DEI wherever they can find it, just as DeSantis admits his idiocy in coming out with a statement that his sycophantic Chief Medical Examiner guy was not wrong to claim that the occurrence of measles in Florididia was no biggie! When today’s Republicans say something, one has only to look at the mirror side of it to see what they are hiding, or hiding from.
    Todd, you remind me of a recurring thought: The MAGA folk, and their conspiracy theorists, who can not imagine that things can simply develop on their own, who “know” that any change they do not like “has” to be covertly planned occurrence, because “covert” is their middle name, but can, and do imagine totally ridiculous things, like MTG’s idiotic space lasers.
    I will go so far as to say that their grasp of reality is so brittle, that any change they dislike, and fear, is seen as a threat to that grasp. This small-mindedness is, all by its little self, a major threat to any Democracy.
    “In order for things not to change, things will have to change.”

  10. Why are they afraid of becoming a minority?
    Could it be that they know how THEY treated minorities?

  11. Lester. I don’t disagree with your point, but want to balance it against the disinfecting power of salt. Wounds ignored are unlikely to heal.

  12. Evolution explains how humans exist and our role in the chain of life. Some believe in science, including evolution, while others choose mythologies of various kinds instead.

    Mythology has always been a cultural belief. If you travel around the world, you will encounter places stuck in times when certain myths explained what was unknown at the time.

    For those who keep up with science, it’s well established that those times are not these times, and they are even more different from the times that are coming, which we, the old folks, prepare the new folks to live in.

    I did not invent any of this truth. I learned it from books, qualified people, and research of my own.

    The racial mix of humanity is a product of evolution, and so is the racial mix of future humans. It’s time for all of us to learn that.

  13. What is “race”? In grad school, a class began with the prof asking us to number a sheet of paper from 1-50. Then he announced: “I’m going to show you 50 faces, identify each one of them as either “Mongoloid, Negroid or Caucasoid”. He then showed the slides. Afterwards, he went through each number asking by a show of hands how the class classified them. Then, he told us where in the world each came from. The class was shocked to learn that anywhere from 30-50% of their IDs were wrong. He made his point. We gotta get passed 21st Century eugenics.

  14. Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institute made the same argument on NewsMax a couple days ago about the ship crash in Baltimore. He argued that Maersk was “woke” and had hired incompetent people for DEI reasons, simply to stick it to right-thinking (i.e. bigoted) Americans. It’s just a standard talking point now.

  15. It is past time we the people recognize that merely being rich (like Musk) does not confer any special ability of such zillionaires to tell us what we should think and how we should vote since, in most every such case (other than that of Buffett), such advice is centered on improving the bottom lines of the corporations they own or in which they have an interest. “Being rich” is often a matter of having been born into wealthy families (as with Musk), and the problem of appropriate taxation of inherited wealth is treated extensively by Thomas Piketty (the brilliant French economist) in his books and treatises. It is hard for ordinary citizens to be lectured by those who have inherited great wealth about the virtues of hard work and accountability, both of which are alien to such inheritors’ experience(s).

    Musk and other zillionaires should thank we the people for providing labor, patent protection, and a market for their goods and services and stay in their social and political lane(s). Inherited wealth derived from emerald mining and the Nazis (aka “very fine people” per Trump) are not welcome into our Big Tent inasmuch as their purpose is to either destroy the tent or fashion it to suit their social. economic, and political ends.

    When, if ever, are the fascists who have taken over the defunct Republican Party going to come up with a platform that appeals to a majority of the polity instead of fashioning such voters’ future by telling them what to think and how to vote? In other words, engage in fleshing out the tenets of democracy? They can’t, of course, since fascism and democracy, however disguised, are oil and water and cannot mix. Leave us, Musk.

  16. Lester, normalizing the “other” groups is critical to making societal change. Some people need to be constantly made aware that others think differently. If no one said anything, those insular groups of bigots would naturally think they were in the majority, and it may never even occur to them that others don’t have the same views as them. Plus, the quickest way to develop some empathy for people in the “other” group is to actually know some of them. It’s why affirmative action programs are so important. Promoting and developing diversity forces this to happen.

    If we all simply decided that today was the day that everyone should be treated equal and we’ll say no more about it, then the desired societal changes we want will take a _really_ long time to occur, if they occur at all. The insular groups of bigots are not going to just naturally change, because they don’t _want_ to. By forcing the issue a bit, we can make progress much more quickly, to the benefit of all. (See the evolution of people’s feelings about gay marriage as a case in point.)

  17. John H. – “normalizing” is fine. Extending “affirmative action” to everything does not do our culture and divisions any favors and does not “smell” of the democracy we claim to live in.

  18. I’m tired of Magas strutting around and attacking others without offering anything positive. Their pecking order politics is antidemocratic, controlling and destructive. If they want to stay put and not progress fine, but they have no right to hold back the majority of Americans who want to continue to make their lives better.
    Americans need to own their rights and know they don’t have to be extremely wealthy to be valued human beings and have quality of life. Good Americans speak truth to power and don’t displace anger onto more vulnerable people.
    Big business works to bring in immigrants to work in the farm, manufacturing etc. where Americans want more money for their labor.
    It’s sad to see minorities side with Republican party since they want to become rich themselves and will follow where they think the power is. Messaging needs to be made clearer to these people.
    I hate how we’re being played by libertine capitalists worldwide by stirring up culture wars to divert our attention as they build fortresses around their wealth.

  19. Affirmative Action was always meant to be a temporary correction to right long standing wrongs. The question now is have those wrongs been adequately made right? What is the evidence supporting both yes and no to that question?

  20. Pete – A much better way is by wealth/income. Given the inequality of these experienced by minorities, they would get significant “righting”. Why give well off/advantaged minorities further advantage? Why exclude underserved majority folks? Is this really what we want for democracy?

  21. “In The Last White Man, Mohsin Hamid’s fifth novel, the protagonist, Anders, wakes up to discover that he has changed race. He looks in the mirror to see not the familiar white face, but “the dark man who had been Anders”. Drawing on literary models from Kafka’s Metamorphosis to José Saramago’s Blindness, Hamid doesn’t seek to explain why this dramatic transformation takes place, but rather to explore the impact that it has on the people of the unnamed American town in which Anders lives. For although he is one of the first to undergo the transformation, the novel is true to its title and eventually there is just one white man left, and then there are none.” The Guardian
    The great replacement realized?

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