The Other Columbus: There is nothing ‘great’ about the great replacement conspiracy

Drained of its slick Fox News graphics and congressional conniving, all the conspiracy really contains is naked fear

Scott Woods
Buffalo police maintain the perimeter while FBI collect evidence and take measurements from inside the Tops Friendly Market store on Jefferson Ave., Buffalo, NY on May 16, 2022.  The area around Tops is still closed off including the portion of the street in front of the store and on the streets bordering the sides of the store.

There is nothing new about the great replacement conspiracy.

The notion that people of color, interracial marriage and immigrants — basically anybody who isn’t a white person — will take over America and erase white people from existence is at least 100 years old on paper, and even older in the public mind.

The replacement conspiracy is one of the most disingenuous and unnecessary conspiracies to date. The idea that white people can be replaced isn’t particularly realistic, but more, no one is trying to. This is one of those reach-across-the-table problems in the minds of white people that creates a problem where there isn’t one. The only danger coming out of the replacement conspiracy is from the people who adhere to it. How many white people have been killed because of critical race theory? Zero. How many Black people have been killed because of the replacement conspiracy? Lots. And don’t even get me started on eugenics. 

The temptation to characterize this conspiracy as the fare of only rabid Nazis is great, but unrealistic. Aspects of this philosophy creep into most areas of civilized society. It is so present in one shape or another that Americans probably shouldn’t consider themselves particularly civilized. Ten people died last weekend in a Buffalo supermarket because of this. They weren’t the first victims and won’t be the last. Seven years ago, this is the kind of thinking that fostered the church shooting in Charleston. All of this is easy work to show, but do you really need me to?

Part of why this numbskull conspiracy persists is because we keep treating the incidents it inspires with kid gloves. We allow it to be called things other than what it is: white genocide fan fiction. We ignore its historical context and manifestations. We strip away education that attempts to warn or shield us from such ideas. (And let’s be honest: your school’s Black History Month program wasn’t addressing this before we let politicians get away with calling it critical race theory.) We act like Black people are being hyperbolic or sensitive. We do everything to not do anything.

The replacement conspiracy isn’t just a flawed idea; it’s a cancerous call to arms. People who espouse its values don’t just want people of color unemployed; they want them eradicated. And they want that because that’s what a nation whose society has been built on actual genocide, displacement and colonization perceives as karmic. They cannot imagine that anyone wouldn’t return the favor if given the chance.

Except that’s not what American history shows at all. It never has. At no point have Black people in any real number come into power and legislated the eradication of white people. White people have done that to several cultures we can name, but the reverse has not played out on any grand scale. And it’s not because we haven’t gotten the power we must so desperately crave. It’s because oppressed people can always think of an infinite number of ways to better spend that energy.

The year 2050 is key here. It has been surmised that by that year, white people in America will be outnumbered by people of color. As they see it, America has 28 years left before it’s overrun by non-white people. As if whites will not still be in control of the government; still wield the entirety of the media in the interest of white assurance; still be the near-exclusive owner of, well, everything.

Confusing one’s individual disenfranchisement with an epic call for the eradication of white people isn’t just bad math; it’s an indicator of a deeper, more personal problem. Their cause is ridiculous on every level. It is mathematically, ideologically and philosophically unsound. There is nothing intellectual about it. Drained of its slick Fox News graphics and congressional conniving, all it contains is naked fear. It is a fear of losing control, of not having the world bend to your existence in every room you walk into. Frankly, that’s a world that any decent person would want to go away.