“White Replacement Theory” is in the news as a potential motivation for the recent mass murder in Buffalo. After a decent interval to mourn the victims, perhaps it is worth asking “Who could be responsible for spreading this false narrative?”
“It Was a Terrifying Census for White Nationalists” (New York Times, August 2021):
The white power acolytes saw this train approaching from a distance — the browning of America, the shrinking of the white population and the explosion of the nonwhite — and they did everything they could to head it off.
They tried to clamp down on immigration, both unlawful and lawful. They waged a propaganda war against abortion, and they lobbied for “traditional family values” in the hopes of persuading more white women to have more babies. They orchestrated a system of mass incarceration that siphoned millions of young, marriage-age men, disproportionately Black and Hispanic, out of the free population.
On every level, in every way, these forces, whether wittingly or not, worked to prevent the nonwhite population from growing. And yet it did.
Meanwhile, the white population, in absolute numbers, declined for the first time in the history of the country.
“What the ‘Majority Minority’ Shift Really Means for America” (NYT, August 2021):
In 2015, the Census Bureau published a report projecting that by 2044, the United States’ white majority would become merely a white plurality: immigration and fertility trends would lead to America’s ethnic and racial minorities outnumbering its white population.
Because of the status white people retain in American society, a degree of privilege and belonging still awaits those who can claim it. People who identify as white hold disproportionate power and resources today, and this pernicious reality seems unlikely to change even if white people do become a 49 percent plurality in about two decades.
“Fewer Births Than Deaths Among Whites in Majority of U.S. States” (NYT, June 2018):
Deaths now outnumber births among white people in more than half the states in the country, demographers have found, signaling what could be a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer a majority of the American population.
The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner.
For white nationalists, it signifies a kind of doomsday clock counting down to the end of racial and cultural dominance. For progressives who seek an end to Republican power, the year points to inevitable political triumph, when they imagine voters of color will rise up and hand victories to the Democratic Party.
Of course, the mass shooting was a terrible event and directed against non-elites who had no role in creating our open borders nor the economic policies that have reduced fertility among working class whites. (chart source)
(According to the chart, the best times to have kids are when you’re on welfare and when you’re rich. Note that there are a lot more poor people than rich people and, therefore, the United States is becoming increasingly a society of the children of the poor. See The Son Also Rises: economics history with everyday applications and The Son Also Rises: Policy Implications for what that might mean.)
The New York Times blames “far-right online platforms” for spreading this “racist belief” (5/14/2022):
The idea that white people should fear being replaced by “others” has spread through far-right online platforms, shaping discussions among American white nationalists, The Times has reported.
Should the paper look at its own triumphalist articles?
Circling back to the tragedy in Buffalo, are there any lessons to be learned? Republicans are often blamed for insufficiently restrictive gun laws, but New York State is free of political influence by Republicans. The perpetrator was mentally ill, but we don’t have effective treatments for mental illness. Two years of school lockdowns and mask orders probably did not improve his mental condition (he reportedly wore a hazmat suit to school for a week). Maybe he would have been happier if his parents had moved him to Florida. I see a fair number of mixed-skin-color teenage voluntary gatherings. Black guys in their 20s and 30s here generally refer to me as “brother”. I have not determined whether it is acceptable to reciprocate.
- “Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S., Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065” (Pew, 2015)
- Low fertility among middle-class whites explained… (a September 2019 post that contains the above chart; the author of the quoted Facebook post is married now, but has no children)