Wednesday, July 6

The US Far Right Ideology Behind the Racist Buffalo Massacre

Correspondent in New York



“The Jews will not replace us.” That was one of the cries in the ultra marches, with Nazi symbology, that took Charlottesville in August 2017 and that ended tragically (a woman died and about twenty people were injured when a white supremacist rammed them with his car). At that time, the replacement idea it did not have a large presence in American society beyond racist and xenophobic forums on the internet. In essence, it is a conspiracy theory that ensures that there is a plan -driven by liberal and Jewish elites- to end the political and cultural power of the white majority in the US through immigrants -not white, of course- and the high birth rate of racial minorities.

Five years have passed, and the replacement ideology has emerged as the rationale behind the racist killing last weekend in Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York. Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, drove for hours to the state’s most black district, parked himself in a supermarket, and shot everyone in his path. He killed ten people and injured three others. Eleven of the victims were black.

A 180-page manifesto

Gendron, whom authorities are now investigating for hate crimes and for “racist-motivated extremist violence,” wrote a 180-page manifesto explaining that he prepared and committed the massacre because of his belief in that idea of ​​replacement. He broke down the birth rates of immigrants and racial minorities, accused the Democrats of wanting to change the racial composition of the country to win elections, spoke of “white genocide” and pointed out as “replacers” those who “invade our land, live in our soil, they live on government subsidies and replace our people.

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Gendron claimed that radicalized during the pandemicby “extreme boredom” and through internet forums, such as 4chan, the same from which QAnon conspiracy theories spread.

The difference between what happened in 2017 and today is that this ideology of replacement -which has one of its origins in the book ‘The Great Replacement’, by the ultra-nationalist French writer Renaud Camus- has gained weight in political discourse and US media. From being ideas shared in obscure and marginal forums, it is now an almost conventional conception.

“The Left Seeks To Dilute Classic Americans”

Donald Trump, who said there were “good people on both sides” about neo-Nazis marching with torches in Charlottesville and clashing with far-left activists on city streets, has spoken on many occasions of “invaders” when it comes to waves of undocumented immigrants.

But the former president is not the one who has most agitated the idea of ​​the replacement. The most significant voice is probably that of Tucker Carlson, the star presenter of Fox News, with the most watched political program in the US. According to an analysis by ‘The New York Times’, Carlson has mentioned the ideas of the replacement in 400 occasions since 2016. In April of last year, he defended the arrival of immigrants “from the third world” to “replace the current electorate” and “dilute the political power of the people who live here.” A few months later, he accused Joe Biden of encouraging the arrival of immigrants “to change the racial composition of the country” and “reduce the political power of the people whose ancestors lived here.”

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But they have also talked about the replacement other conservative voices in the American media, such as the late Rush Limbaugh -the most followed radio personality-, or the Fox News presenters Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Jeanine Pirro or Laura Ingraham. The latter told her audience in 2018 that Democrats “want to replace you, American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and a growing number of chain immigrants (referring to those who get their papers because of family ties).”

With the growing polarization in the US, the message has reached politics. Newt Gingrich, who was Speaker of the House of Representatives and a Republican presidential candidate, has argued that the left seeks to “dilute” “classic Americans.” Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, who has toughened her rhetoric to curry favor with Trump, said in an election ad that Democrats were seeking to “push out our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

The 14 words of replacement theory

All these voices always defend that this idea of ​​replacement has nothing to do with racism, but rather it is an immigration and electoral issue. Y are quick to condemn tragedies such as the one in Buffalo, or earlier such as the massacre in El Paso (Texas) in 2019 -the attacker was targeting Hispanics- or the previous year in a synagogue in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) in which the author accused the Jews of promoting the entry of invaders.

These clarifications and condemnations do not avoid a reality: agitating replacement theories from some of the most influential pulpits for the conservative voter -either to excite the audience or to mobilize the electorate- contributes to turning the marginal into the conventional give legitimacy to those who promote racist hatred from replacement ideas. Also in the most radical and terrifying versions of him, like the one Gendron showed this weekend.

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Two messages were inscribed on his semi-automatic rifle: ‘nigger’, a racist insult that no one utters publicly in the US; and number 14, which refers to a slogan with fourteen words -in its English version- of the replacement theory: «We must guarantee the existence of our people and a future for white children».

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