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The Deadly Consequences of Normalizing the Racist “Replacement” Theory

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GOP leaders have yet to stand up to Trump and his incendiary xenophobia

Washington, DC – The vile “Great Replacement” theory – the racist and noxious notion that Democrats and Jews are trying to “replace” white people with Black and Brown immigrants – is in the news this week. 

In Charlottesville, a civil trial for organizers of the Unite the Right rally begins today. As the Washington Post writes:

“On the night of Aug. 11, 2017, a crowd of mostly young White males wearing khaki pants and polos marched with rage at the University of Virginia, carrying torches and chanting ‘Jews will not replace us.’

The next morning, white supremacists wielding weapons, including shields, clubs and long guns, descended on downtown Charlottesville along with self-styled militia members carrying semiautomatic rifles and pistols. A neo-Nazi sped his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others.”

Meanwhile, this Wednesday will be the three year anniversary of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. That was the terrorist attack fomented by Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric that led a deranged White nationalist shooter to kill 11 worshippers. The shooter cited Jewish organization support for welcoming refugees among his motivations in online screeds of hate.

Unfortunately, despite the deadly real world consequences seen in Charlottesville and Pittsburgh – as well as places such as El Paso and New Zealand – conservative media figures such as Tucker Carlson and elected Republicans such as Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have been escalating the racist conspiracy theories, seeking to mainstream these ideas despite the proven dangers (see a research roundup here of recent examples).

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Conservative media figures and a growing number of Republican elected officials are normalizing and advancing a radical and racist conspiracy theory that has motivated unhinged followers to kill innocent people. As the trial in Charlottesville and the anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre remind us this week, there is a real world body count associated with the ‘replacement theory’ and ‘invasion’ language. The mainstreaming of replacement theory goes beyond our usual political divisions and is a dangerous threat to the very foundations of our democracy in a multiracial and multiethnic society.