White Genocide? What's the 'Replacement Theory' That Inspired Buffalo Shooter?

The theory has a pretty bloody history and has reportedly been a clear motivation for over 160 murders.

4 min read
White Genocide? What's the 'Replacement Theory' That Inspired Buffalo Shooter?

Last year, Tucker Carlson, United States' right-wing media personality, asserted on Fox News that immigrants from the 'Third World' were coming into the country "to replace the current electorate" and to "dilute the political power of the people who live there."

As nonsensical and prejudiced as it sounds, Carlson's theory is not limited to his rabble-rousing primetime show.

Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich, who is a former speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, have lent some sort of credibility to what is known as the "white replacement theory."

Why are we talking about this?

Because 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who went on a killing spree in Buffalo, New York, on 14 May, shooting 10 people dead (eleven of the 13 people shot were black) and wounding a few others, was reportedly motivated by his belief in the aforementioned theory.

So, what is the white replacement theory? What is its role on the Buffalo mass shooting? And how is it promoted by the American far-right?


The White Replacement Theory

The white replacement theory has a pretty bloody history, and has, according to The Guardian, been a clear motivation for over 160 murders, including the mass murder of 77 people in Norway in 2011, mostly immigrants, the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue killings, and the 2019 El Paso shooting.

In simple words, it is a conspiracy theory that propagates that non-white individuals are deliberately being brought into the US and other countries with a white-majority population with one main goal: to replace the white voters and alter the demography for political purposes.

The theory, according to the National Immigration Forum (advocacy group based in Washington DC), is most often promoted by anti-immigration and white supremacist organisations, which claims that the inflow of non-white immigrants into the country will cause the extinction of the white race.

The manifesto of the mass shooter, which he posted online, condemns the "white genocide" that will occur because of the low fertility rates of white people and the high fertility rates of non-white "replacement" immigrants.

The contemporary use of the replacement theory, according to NPR, can be traced back to a French writer named Renaud Camus who wrote Le Grand Remplacement (The Great Replacement) in 2011. His works on this theory have been extensively published or translated on far-right websites and used by far-right groups for propaganda.

Additionally, more than seven decades ago in the US, a Democratic Party senator named Theodore Bilbo published a book promoting this hateful and prejudiced conspiracy theory. Its title was Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization.


The Ultra-Racist and Anti-Semitic Manifesto

The mass shooter in Buffalo seems to have been influenced by other mass killers in the recent past, who were also inspired by the white replacement theory.

One of his inspirations, according to his manifesto, is Brenton Tarrant, the mass killer in the 2018 Christchurch shootings in New Zealand in which 51 people had been slaughtered in a mosque.

After all, 28 percent of the manifesto is plagiarised from a similar document left by Tarrant, according to the analysis done by the Khalifa Ihler Institute, a Sweden-based anti-extremism think tank.

Stating that Tarrant's live-streamed attack led to his own murderous actions, Gendron wrote in his document that "Brenton started my real research into the problems with immigration and foreigners in our White lands, without his live-stream I would likely have no idea about the real problems the West is facing."

Gendron also cites a claim often pushed by white supremacists, which is that there is a clear IQ gap between white people (who are superior) and Black people. Then he goes on to say that Black people are not smart enough to orchestrate the replacement of white people, and that instead, will be done by another group of people – the Jews.

In one section within the dozens of pages dedicated to anti-Semitism, he writes, "Jews are spreading ideas such as Critical Race Theory and white shame/guilt to brainwash Whites into hating themselves and their people."

He also rips into the idea of diversity, claiming that it is "not a strength."

"The United States is one of the most diverse nations on Earth, and they are about an inch away from tearing each other to pieces. Brazil with all its racial diversity is completely fractured as a nation, where people cannot get along and separate and self-segregate whenever possible. South Africa with all its 'diversity' is turning into a bloody backwater as its diversity increases, black on black. black on white, white on black, black on Indian, doesn't not matter, its ethnicity vs ethnicity. They all turn on each other in the end."


In Mainstream Media & Politics

In the US, the theory has resonated with right-wing mainstream media anchors and even some politicians in the Republican Party.

"We know that there’s tremendous mainstreaming of the ‘great replacement’ narrative by politicians and cable news pundits like Tucker Carlson," said Cynthia Miller-Idriss of the American University, where she is in charge of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab, as reported by the Washington Post.

In the video below, he says, in the context of the replacement theory, "That's what's happening actually. Let's just say it, it's true!"

Among senior Republican politicians who have propagated this theory indirectly, Elise Stefanik stands out as someone who used it in her campaign.

“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION," one of her ads read, according to the Washington Post.

"Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington."

What's even more dangerous is that around 33 percent of American adults believe that there is an ongoing effort "to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains," according to an AP poll, which also concluded that the people most likely to have these views are the ones who watched right-wing media outlets like Fox News, One American News Network, and Newsmax.

(With inputs from The Guardian, Associated Press, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.)

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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