The Replacements

Resqusa.net - Home | FacebookTo some, the term “replacements” will evoke a smile recollecting the 2000 motion picture comedy starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman about a group of misfits recruited to play professional football.

However, there are advocates of a sociopolitical replacement theory who share a certain xenophobic belief with those in America who seek to separate (see VoxFairfax, https://wp.me/p9wDCF-2d6) themselves from the world around them and congregate and aggregate with others of similar political and social beliefs. IFor example, in the country’s northwest region, there is a dedicated effort to amalgamate parts of Idaho, western Oregon, and eastern Washington.

More recently, in August 2017, Virginians and the nation were presented with a band of white folks dubbed “very fine people” marching in Charlottesville with Tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us.” The chant presents much to consider about political dialogue in the nation. Its components – Jews, replace, and us – are resonant with threatening code signals reflecting values antithetical to what most believe to be the best of the nation’s values.

For one, who is the Jew? Surely, even the most fervent among the marchers could not articulate an actual instance where a Jew sought to stand in for a marcher. It may be supposed that the Jew is a metaphor for some other threatening personality or group. No media reports recorded that there were Jews along the marcher route demanding to take the place of a Tiki torch bearer. Clearly, the Jew was not an existential problem in Charlottesville on the day of the march.

The rise of populist nationalism in the United States and abroad has led observers to conclude that the Charlottesville chant relates to migrations of immigrants threatening to replace the extant population in some manner, answering the definition of the “us” who are to be replaced.

For these reasons, it may be concluded that the Jew was indeed symbolic or metaphoric. On a broader scale, the rise of populist nationalism in the United States and abroad has led observers to conclude that the Charlottesville chant relates to migrations of immigrants threatening to replace the extant population in some manner, answering the definition of the “us” who are to be replaced.

This thread motivated a significant segment of the British electorate to support Brexit and has also been seen in Austria, Hungary, and France. In Belarus, migrant populations have been imported from Middle Eastern countries and encouraged to cross the borders into Poland and Lithuania, weaponizing the replacements as an instrument of foreign policy.  

The United States has engaged in demonization of Mexicans in a similar fashion. Immigration is a vital force in the forthcoming French elections, championed by nationalists and white supremacists as a threat to the French identity. Anti-immigrant sentiment in the US has been spurred by advocacy of a return to Anglo-Saxon founding origins.

In Oakton, Virginia, a not-for-profit called American Renaissance characterizes its mission as promoting white identity. The Commonwealth has been an incubator for nativist agitation, from Richard Spencer to the Unite the Right fiasco in Charlottesville. The state is the birthplace in 1999 of the VDare organization, a virulent anti-immigrant not-for-profit now located in Connecticut. Replacement advocates have emerged as part of a GOP caucus in the House, led by Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) called the America First Caucus. The group issued a policy statement in April 2021 that stated:

America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.

There is no dearth of separatists or replacement theorists. Fox News’s Tucker Carlson has broadcast his views employing the Biden administration as a proxy for Jews and directing a plot of replacement stemming from Mexico. In a recent episode, Carlson said:

America will never be the same after this, and of course that’s the whole point of the exercise. The Biden administration is subverting democracy, diluting the political poweru of American citizens by importing a brand-new population. That is exactly what’s happening.

Now the radical right has two chorale groups vocalizing in stereo to the faithful about the imminent threat of replacement of that flock. The former president in a recent interview with an Israeli journalist squirted more gasoline onto the theory by excoriating American Jews when he said:

in the election they still get a lot of votes from Jewish people, which tells you the Jewish people — and I’ve said this for a long time — the Jewish people in the United States either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel.

In the same interview, he blamed Obama and Biden for Israel’s loss of influence in Congress, which he characterized as “absolute” in prior years. Trump added that the Sulzberger family, which owns The New York Times, as “Jewish people” who run the newspaper that “hates Israel.”  His words ae tropes that echo centuries of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jews as internationalists and globalists, and metropolitan, with a mission to rule.

The chant of the Charlottesville marchers succinctly expressed the racist tactic of the radical right to gin up nationalist fervor by demonizing Jews and invoking the fears of replacement of the Anglo-Saxon America cherished by their followers. So long as you are one of us, the conspiracy chimes, you will not be replaced; you can proudly identify as white and speak out for separation of cultures, races, and political communities.

The chant of the Charlottesville marchers succinctly expressed the racist tactic of the radical right to gin up nationalist fervor by demonizing Jews and invoking the fears of replacement of the Anglo-Saxon America cherished by their followers. So long as you are one of us, the conspiracy chimes, you will not be replaced; you can proudly identify as white and speak out for separation of cultures, races, and political communities.

Certainly, the replacements portrayed by Reeves and Hackman are light years more enjoyable than the grim dystopia of the radical right. The Hollywood version is also closer to reality and the values of this nation. Tolerance of inanities such as the replacement conspiracy is an American value but, to the contrary, a credible tenet for the Charlottesville marchers and their kinsmen or Klansmen.  Prayerfully, some maturation will function as a replacement to separate them from their unhealthy views.

 

 

 

 



Categories: cultural icons, Immigration, Issues, native americans, political discourse, political parties, politics, racial symbols, republicans

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