Replacement theory in America has a much older domestic antecedents than Renaud Camus and Jean Raspail. Henry Ford, among other Americans, promoted “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, which – through an entirely fictional depiction of a powerful Jewish conspiracy that controlled world events – influenced racist theories and beliefs from its initial publication in the early 20th century.
Concerns about the body politic and threats to the nation’s racial makeup inspired eugenics campaigns, anti-immigration activists, and other progressives, including Theodore Roosevelt. These ideas were woven with environmentalism not only by ecofascists in the recent past, but also by late 19th and early 20th century environmentalists who worried about population burdens and wondered how to preserve nature for whites.
When neo-Nazis, Klansmen, militiamen and skinheads came together in the 1980s and 1990s, they worried about the “Zionist occupation government” or the “New World Order”. They also made it clear that their nation was do not the United States, but a transnational body politic of white people that had to be defended against these conspiratorial enemies and against racial threats – defended through violence and race war. This current still runs through the writings of those associated with the attacks in Charleston, Christchurch, Oslo, El Paso, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.
It is impossible to separate the replacement theory from its violent implications, as decades of terrorism by its proponents show us. The mainstreaming of replacement theory, whether on Tucker Carlson’s show or in Elise Stefanik’s campaign ads, will continue to have disastrous consequences.
The long game of white power activists isn’t just about terrorizing and intimidating non-whites: as “The Camp of the Saints” shows, these activists fear apocalyptic extinction if they don’t take up arms. The American equivalent, “The Turner Diaries,” imagines what it would be like to establish a white-dominated world through race war and genocide.
Why wouldn’t people immediately condemn such an idea?
Thoughts and prayers are never enough after a mass shooting, but even those messages seem more sparse than usual. Wendy Rogers, an Arizona state senator and member of the far-right extralegal Oath Keepers militia involved in the Capitol storming, suggested online that the shooting was a false flag operation perpetrated by a federal agent.
It is clear that this is no longer a marginal idea. Decades of violence at the hands of extremists tell us that such ideas will lead to further violence; integrating the idea means that the action window closes.