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The Howling Idiocy of the 'Great Replacement' Theory

Steve Chapman on

For those who believe in the "great replacement" theory, I can affirm: Yes, today's Americans are going to be replaced with people very different from us. They are called descendants, and they will turn out in such ways that we would barely recognize them.

My Confederate forebears would be displeased to find that I would sooner burn a Confederate flag than fly one -- and that I live in the Land of, yes, Lincoln. My agrarian ancestors would lament that I couldn't farm my way out of an NPR tote bag.

Present-day white supremacists and others who believe there is a master plan to change America, of course, are not focused on how little their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will resemble them. They are obsessed with racial identity and the prospect that whites will see their dominance erode. One adherent is the man accused of targeting and killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

But the gravity of his alleged crime should not obscure the howling idiocy of the theory that inspired him. Demographic shifts are hardly at odds with our national history and character. In fact, nothing could be more quintessentially American.

The settlers who first came to these shores to displace the original inhabitants were overwhelmingly from the British Isles, but it didn't take long for migrants from elsewhere to show up uninvited.

There was a time when other Europeans were seen as alien, indigestible and not white. Benjamin Franklin objected that "the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted." Today, their descendants are deemed part of the same race -- because race is a social concept, not a biological fact.

 

Later, it was widely feared that Roman Catholics could never be loyal Americans. Today, prominent Catholics include the president of the United States, the speaker of the House and six members of the Supreme Court.

The Great Replacement theory posits that evil elites are bringing in dark-complexioned immigrants to take power away from whites. But the vast majority of African Americans didn't immigrate in the last few decades; they arrived centuries ago against their will. Even if the fantastical plot were real, African Americans wouldn't be part of it.

Why whites should worry about the foreigners who come here is a mystery. Without the many-hued immigrants who have streamed in over the past two centuries, America would be far less populous, innovative and rich.

Immigration is a big reason that the U.S. has long been one of the fastest-growing nations in the industrialized world. Contrast it with Japan, which is largely closed to immigration and whose population has steadily shrunk over the past decade.

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