From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Bilbo
Good piece about the roots of the theory that is both dominant among Republican elites and repeatedly inspiring racist massacres:
This far-right conspiracy theory, known as the “great replacement theory,” has inspired a lot of recent violence, including the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, where the shooter warned of “White genocide.” He later pleaded guilty to 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and engaging in a terrorist act.
Some of the torch-bearing “Unite the Right” demonstrators, including Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis, who terrorized Charlottesville in 2017 were also motivated by the theory, which warns that an increase in the non-White population fueled by immigration will destroy White and Western civilization.
The Buffalo gunman, identified by authorities as Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old White man, is believed to have posted online a 180-page document arguing that White Americans were in danger of being replaced by people of color.
But while the great replacement theory has inspired horrific violence in the past five years, it’s a lot older than that. More than 70 years ago, a U.S. senator published a book warning of the same destruction of White civilization.
Theodore G. Bilbo, a Democrat, had twice been governor of Mississippi before he served in the U.S. Senate from 1935 to 1947, when “the growing intolerance among many whites toward public racism and anti-Semitism” led to his fall, according to an account in the Journal of Mississippi History.
An equal-opportunity racist, he addressed some of his letters with slurs against Italians and Jews, depending on the recipient. But the bulk of his loathing and fear was reserved for Black Americans, as spelled out in his 1947 book “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization.”
Can’t believe how far back this economic populism goes!