Kathleen Belew Explains the White Supremacist "Great Replacement" IdeologyHistorians in the News
tags: far right, racism, immigration, White Supremacy
NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with Kathleen Belew, co-editor of "A Field Guide to White Supremacy" about Great Replacement Theory, also known as White Replacement Theory.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
The Anti-Defamation League is renewing its call for Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson for his advocacy of what they say is Great Replacement Theory or White Replacement Theory. It's an old idea once on the fringes of white supremacist dogma, and it's not only being openly embraced by people like Carlson, but elected Republican politicians have also made such arguments recently. Kathleen Belew is the co-editor of "A Field Guide To White Supremacy" and an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago. Good morning.
KATHLEEN BELEW: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's start with what White Replacement Theory is and its origins.
BELEW: So Great Replacement Theory is sort of the latest term for an old set of ideas. And we've seen this appearing in one form or another at least throughout the 20th century. The idea is that somehow, nonwhite people or outsiders or strangers or foreigners will overtake the United States via immigration, reproduction and seizure of political power. One reason that the ADL is sensitive to this issue is that many incarnations of this theory involve a supposed cabal of Jewish elites.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, those are sort of canons of white supremacist thinking. I'm going to play some of what Tucker Carlson has said.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)
TUCKER CARLSON: Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term replacement - if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the third world. But they become hysterical because that's what's happening, actually. Let's just say it. That's true.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And one of the highest-ranking members of the House, Republican Elise Stefanik, said in a Facebook ad that the left's plan to grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.
BELEW: The Stefanik quote is particularly interesting because it's doing two things at the same time. It's fanning flames that somehow, incoming populations of immigrants will pose an antidemocratic threat to the country. I'll come back to that in a second. It's also reclaiming language that, right now in our debate, is really about January 6, when people who support President Trump aligned with white power activists to attempt an antidemocratic action against the entire country, possibly an act of domestic terror. Now, when we think about the idea that incoming immigrants necessarily pose an antidemocratic threat - that is inextricable as an idea from nativism and the idea that the United States should be somehow a white nation. And we've seen this come up at moments of sort of inflows of immigration from different parts of the world. But here we have a very sort of overt articulation of this, partly because so much of the debate as it relates to Haitian immigration is racially charged in a different way than it has been.
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