DG Martin: Great replacement what?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2022

What were the two most used new words in the news last week?

The term “Great Replacement.”

I admit that I had never heard of the term until the recent attack in Buffalo by a white 18-year-old man that left 10 people dead. A long document, found with the attacker’s property and presumably written by him explained his motives and concerns about the “replacement” of the “white race” and “white culture.”

CNN reported that, “The author also writes about his perceptions of the dwindling size of the white population and claims of ethnic and cultural replacement of whites.”

In an article published by CNN, Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney and a columnist for The Daily Beast, writes that the document found with the shooter “espouses is, in essence, the white supremacist concept known as the Great Replacement Theory. This ‘theory’ is meant as a warning to white people that soon, people of color — typically immigrants, Latinos and African Americans–may outnumber white people and in essence ‘replace’ them.”

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal gave the following summary: “The great replacement’ is a conspiracy theory that asserts elites — politicians, business executives, media — are using immigration and other policies as a tool to reduce the white population.”

The Journal article continues. “Interest and belief in the idea has increased in the U.S. in recent years, researchers say, as the percentage of white Americans, compared with nonwhite people, shrinks. The nation’s non-Hispanic white population dropped 2.6% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Census Bureau. Projections by the bureau indicate that the total population of nonwhite people in America will exceed the white population by 2045.”

The replacement theory is not new. The idea got its modern start in France in the early part of the 20th Century. More recently, a 2011 article by French writer Renaud Camus and titled “The Great Replacement” is used by white supremacists in the U.S.

According to the Journal, Camus wrote that “white Europeans will eventually be extinct because of immigration and since some nonwhite populations, particularly those of Africa and the Middle East, have higher birthrates. People from Africa and the Middle East have emigrated to France from former French colonies in increased numbers in the postcolonial era.”

The increase of immigrant populations in Europe and the U.S. is fact, not a theory. There are consequences in terms of a rise in influence of immigrants and their children in Europe and the U.S. and the corresponding loss of power and influence of white Americans.

But there is more to the theory than these facts.

Versions of the theory allege a conspiracy among some people to replace the long-time white residents of Europe and the U.S. with people from Africa and Asia. The conspirators, it is said, are politicians, elitist people and institutions. They promote policies that open the doors to immigrants and empower people of color and other minority groups. These people would become voters who would do the will of the conspirators.

I could find no credible evidence about the “elites” exerting control over the votes of immigrants and minorities.

I confess that I have hoped that the changing makeup of North Carolina’s population that is under way would help my political party more than the other party.

Does that make me part of some conspiracy?

I don’t think so.

D.G. Martin, a lawyer, served as the UNC System’s vice president for public affairs and hosted PBS-NC’s North Carolina Bookwatch.