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July 7 2022 9:55 AM ˚
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Rhetoric that serves a purpose

donald trump
(File photo: Jordan News)
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Make no mistake: The idea that apparently inspired a white supremacist who is accused of killing and injuring more than a dozen people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York — that nefarious elites are using immigration to “replace” white Americans with pliant foreigners — is virtually indistinguishable from mainstream Republican rhetoric.اضافة اعلان

“This administration wants complete open borders,” said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin last month.

“And you have to ask yourself, why? Is it really (that) they want to remake the demographics of America to ensure that they stay in power forever?”

“The media calls us racist for wanting to build Trump’s wall,” said J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for the US Senate in Ohio, in a campaign ad.

“They censor us, but it does not change the truth. Joe Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans, with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country.”

Hours after the shooting, a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, Blake Masters, said on Twitter that “The Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens — that is their electoral strategy.” On Monday, the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, Elise Stefanik of New York, declared that it was a “FACT that DEMOCRATS have been explicitly pushing for amnesty for years — specifically for political and electoral purposes.”

Republican politicians aside, there is also Tucker Carlson, whose Fox News program is a direct conduit for white nationalist ideas, including the idea of “the great replacement”. There are more than 400 episodes of his show, according to a recent New York Times investigation, in which Carlson has either amplified or promoted the theory that Democrats and other members of the liberal elite (like billionaire philanthropist George Soros) are using immigration to replace the native-born majority with a new, foreign-born electorate.

The reason President Joe Biden has not ended illegal immigration to the US, Carlson charged in a monologue last year, is because he wants to “change the racial mix of the country” and “reduce the political power of people whose ancestors lived here, and dramatically increase the proportion of Americans newly arrived from the Third World”.

This policy, Carlson continued, is “sometimes called the great replacement — the replacement of legacy Americans, with more obedient people from faraway countries”.

One way to try to foreclose the most expansive and progressive possibilities — to secure capital and hierarchy against equality and democracy — is to weaponize divisions and anxieties and perceived prejudices; to play to the fear of loss in hopes of overcoming a call for solidarity.
The point of making the connection between this rhetoric and that of the accused shooter is not to say that Carlson or Republican politicians are directly responsible for the ideas in his manifesto or for the slaughter itself. But the shooting in Buffalo is only the latest in a series of mass shootings inspired by this particular racist conspiracy theory.

The Republican politicians and conservative media personalities who traffic in this rhetoric did not create the idea of the “great replacement”, but they have adopted it. They have chosen to swim in the same ideological waters as the people responsible for these shootings and have chosen to amplify the “great replacement” theory to the world even as it poisoned minds and produced violence.

But in American politics, this rhetoric serves a purpose.

We are living through a moment of social and political tumult. Our society is more than a little unsettled, and as a result there are many new opportunities for change and transformation. One way to try to foreclose the most expansive and progressive possibilities — to secure capital and hierarchy against equality and democracy — is to weaponize divisions and anxieties and perceived prejudices; to play to the fear of loss in hopes of overcoming a call for solidarity.

It is not as if this comes out of nowhere. It would not be the first time in this country’s history that reactionaries fanned violence in order to win a favorable settlement for themselves.


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