“It’s not immediately obvious how the “great replacement” theory, often framed as anti-immigrant doctrine meant to preserve predominantly white societies, is connected to the shooting of Black customers and employees at a grocery store in Buffalo last weekend. Those at the store, who lived over 100 miles away from the man accused in the killings, were simply going about their lives (picking up groceries, buying a birthday cake, taking their children for ice cream).
But the explanation for both the choice of targets and the brutality of an attack that killed 10 people can be found in the history of the theory. In the American context, it has in its cross-hairs a host of future targets, among them democracy itself.
The great replacement is the latest incarnation of an old idea: The belief that elites are attempting to destroy the white race by overwhelming it with nonwhite groups and thinning them out with interbreeding until white people no longer exist. This idea is not, at its core, about any single threat, be it immigrants or people of color, but rather about the white race that it purports to protect. It’s important to be cautious and not too credulous when reading the writings of assailants in attacks motived by race, but we should note an important pattern: their obsession with protecting white birthrates.
For decades, white power activists have worried about their status as a majority. They see a looming demographic crisis, and talk about when their community, town or the United States will no longer be majority white. Even when demographic change slows, this fear has not abated.”