Theory is a word that has been abused by attaching it to almost any idea that pops into one’s head. It’s especially egregious when attached to ideas based on fear and prejudice. The currently popular Replacement Theory falls into that category.
The idea is that there is a well organized and funded liberal socialist plot to overwhelm white voters with non white immigrants who’ve been allowed to get citizenship overnight. These people don’t have the cultural values that have made America great, and will be manipulated by liberal and other non white Americans to impose radical left wing socialism on the nation.
Their evidence? Many thousands are fleeing toward the US border in pursuit of opportunity, freedom and safety. For no reason other than repetitive assertions, the theory holds that Democrats want to open the border allowing entrance with no regulation. Look what’s already happened: There are millions of undocumented immigrants who have been here a long time leeching off tax payers. We can’t get rid of them and Democrats want to let them become citizens.
On top of that, it’s now clear that within a few years it will not be possible to divide the nation into discrete categories of color or ethnicity with whites in the proven majority. The non-dominant white scenario raises fearful anxiety based on strongly held prejudices. The conspiracy believers suggest that it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t well orchestrated, and in the end, the people who made America great will become an oppressed minority in a country no longer their own.
When it’s phrased that way it almost makes sense. I don’t think theory adherents reject the idea of America as a melting pot, but that pot was supposed to melt everyone into the ethos of white middle class culture, vaguely Protestant, and content with a right leaning republican democracy. Whatever other history might be taught, the principle theme should be the story of white settlers and their hard working pioneer spirit that built the nation – with others playing supporting roles as slaves, servants, and enemies to be conquered.
It’s a narrative that will be hard to dislodge because it is so deeply rooted. It helps explain the hysterical outcry against teaching a more authentic American history to children. The related fearful anxiety explains why out of control screaming at boards of education meetings are too common.
I have no clear idea about how to remedy this growing theory, but I stumbled onto a year old study from the U. Of Michigan reported on by Christiane Amanpour that may hold some clues. It examined the demographics and beliefs of persons arrested for the violent attacks on the Capitol, and others who were passive supporters. It may shed some insight on the mindset of those most fearfully concerned about how the American story is taught. The study concluded that about 4% of the adult population are willing to personally engage in right wing violent protests against the government, with as many as 10% willing to be passive supporters. (Note: no doubt the U. Of Michigan has also examined left wing protests, but they were not the subject of the report I heard summarized.) Most of the 4% are from urban areas experiencing rapidly shifting demographics and power structures where white dominance has been taken for granted. Most are over 34, with almost half of them educated, middle class business and professional men. The usual suspected youthful and rural libertarians are missing in large numbers. Massive public campaigns, to help the fearful unwilling to let go of their anxiety about unstoppable change, have worked in past decades. Maybe that could work again.
In the meantime I cannot write as Country Parson without saying something about the necessary role of Christian leaders. Pastors and theologians are compelled to proclaim the gospel in ways that strengthen the courage of the faithful to walk boldly as bearers of the light of Christ and agents of healing reconciliation into an unknown future. One cannot both follow Christ and defend white supremacy. I know there are some so called Christian leaders preaching the gospel of anxiety ridden white supremacy. They are not Christian no matter how often they shout Jesus’ name, and would be wise to stop claiming they are.