A Race Massacre in Buffalo, Fueled by Replacement TheoryBy: Amy Spitalnick Blog
Yesterday, a race massacre took place in Buffalo, NY.
A white supremacist with access to an assault rifle traveled to the zip code with the highest Black population in driving distance. He entered a grocery store, killing ten people and injuring three more. Eleven of the thirteen people he shot were Black.
The shooter’s racist, xenophobic, and antisemitic manifesto states clearly that he was motivated by Replacement Theory -- the same vile neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that fueled deadly attacks in Pittsburgh, Poway, El Paso, and Charlottesville.
Though the language and details have evolved, Replacement Theory has deep ideological roots in this country. Claims of ‘white genocide’ and panic about shifting demographics and culture have fed violence, immigration bans, border vigilantism, and an entire racist field of eugenics intended to legitimize it all.
But the modern iteration of this demographic obsession -- the Great Replacement Theory -- was, until recently, a fringe conspiracy theory, relegated primarily to neo-Nazi and white nationalist spaces. Most Americans were perplexed by the “Jews will not replace us” chants in Charlottesville.
Now, however, the ideology has been mainstreamed, normalized, and spread by prominent media personalities like Tucker Carlson and influential elected leaders. The language of immigrant and nonwhite ‘invasion’ is ubiquitous in conservative talking points, and references to ‘replacement’ itself are increasingly common.
A survey published last week suggests nearly one-third of Americans now agree with the core arguments of Replacement Theory -- and, unsurprisingly, the number is higher among those who consume right-wing cable news.
There’s no question: This crisis of white supremacist violence has been made infinitely worse by the politicians and pundits who have normalized Replacement Theory over the last few years.
Again and again, we’ve seen the deadly consequences. We know exactly where this all leads, but the rhetoric has only gotten uglier and more explicit, and the violence more common.
We’re heartbroken for the victims of yesterday’s attack, and for the entire Buffalo community. Heartbroken -- and furious.
Furious because our leaders have done so little to keep our communities safe from these weapons of war. Furious because there’s been so little accountability for those who promote and normalize the conspiracy theories and dehumanizing hate that fueled this attack and so many others.
Our Charlottesville plaintiffs’ victory last fall marked a rare example of such accountability and justice. But to fully take on this scourge of violent extremism requires broader, sweeping action: from elected officials on all levels; from the social media companies and cable carriers who’ve monetized the hate that threatens our communities; and in recognizing its inextricable connection to rising authoritarianism and anti-democratic forces.
These changes will not happen if all of us -- the majority of Americans who reject white supremacy and support diversity, inclusion, and a more just society -- do not demand it.
Today we grieve. Tomorrow we continue in our struggle against violent hate.