When suspected Buffalo terrorist Payton Gendron began shooting Black patrons at the Tops Grocery on Saturday afternoon, he wasn't just fitted in cosplay military attire and armed with a semi-automatic weapon , he was also armed with the mainstreamed philosophies of the neo-fascist Republican Party .
In today's conservative media and political ecosystems, white men are fed a steady diet of fear that they are being "replaced" and must "take their country back." These are the two phrases regularly echoed by Fox News and former President Donald Trump .
One of the tenants of replacement theory is the fear over white women not having enough babies. The patriarchal traditionalists of the right blame this in part on feminism, for letting such women believe they have the right to earn their own careers rather than just be white, Christian baby-making machines at their men's disposal.
How did replacement theory make its way from the fringes to the mainstream? With the help of the Republican Party and their preferred network, Fox News.
Last year, Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania used his time in a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing to discuss how immigrants are replacing "native" Americans—by which, of course, he meant "white Americans."
"For many Americans, what seems to be happening or what they believe right now… is we're replacing… native-born Americans to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation," said Rep. Perry .
Tucker Carlson has turned replacement theory into primetime fodder for his viewers, using his show to stoke fears of immigrant caravans coming in to replace white Americans and destroy their way of life. He also regularly showcases violent acts committed by people of color, while praising the Jan. 6 insurrectionists as patriots. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the third-ranking Republican in the House, put out attack ads last year that plainly nodded to replacement theory by talking about immigrants becoming a "permanent election insurrection."
Another part of replacement theory holds that people of color are procreating in greater numbers, and that more people of color are "invading" across the border (this includes both legal and unauthorized migrants). All of this, of course, is supposedly a plot hatched by Democrats and "elites" to make America "dirtier," as Tucker Carlson literally said .
Thus, falling white birth rates lead directly to white people being "replaced."
"For people in the white power movement, everything is framed through reproduction and gender," Kathleen Belew , a history professor at the University of Chicago who has studied these groups, told The New York Times .
What happens, however, when the white power movement is perfectly aligned with one of the two major political parties? Well, you get policies like Texas' six-week abortion ban, which authorizes citizens to file bounty lawsuits against women seeking an abortion, or anyone who assists in almost any fashion.
You also get the leaked decision penned by Supreme Justice (and Federalist Society member) Samuel Alito, that seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade , and with it a woman's right to choose.
So, if you force more white women to give birth, and you make pregnancy more dangerous for Black women—whose maternal mortality rate is more than twice as high as white women—you begin to actualize the white supremacist fantasy–an all-white Christian nation.
The right has for years exploited white fragility, and pushed the idea that their preferred version of "American" identity (where white is the default, and everyone else is an "other") is being destroyed from within our institutions.
That's why there's so much irrational resentment over affirmative action—because the right wants whites to believe "they" are coming for their jobs. That's why there's so much panic over "critical race theory" in schools, because "they" are coming to indoctrinate our children simply by teaching them the facts of America's white supremacist history. That's why politicians like Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House, tweeted that there's "an invasion" on our southern border—because "they" are coming to take over our country.
The reality here is that the hateful, racist, and misogynistic rhetoric spewed by the Republican Party, lifted up and spread far and wide by Fox News, isn't just entertainment or "politics as usual." It is dangerous.
The Republican Party's embrace of Trumpism is fueled by white supremacist ideology, and they are no longer hiding it on the fringe, but parading it out as the central plank of the party. Dog whistles are for yesterday, now they're saying the quiet parts out loud.
By harping on the decrease in white birth rates (and the population growth among communities of color), the mainstream right—which includes elected Republicans, Fox News commentators, and the former president of the United States—feeds a toxic narrative to angry young white men, which they have taken as a call to arms.
If the endgame is to take their country back and make America white again, killing Black people and other people of color is the most obvious and despicable way to achieve their goal.
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