An otherwise nice guy friend, who has become a leading apologist for Donald Trump and the Trumplicans, sent me this e-mail:
“Democrats turn a blind eye to illegal immigrants because they figure the more foreigners we can bring in, the more they (or their children) will vote Democratic, and the party will grow in size and influence. Also, they are hell-bent on destroying all semblances of Western European culture in America, so what better way to do that than heavily infuse more cultures into the mix?”
My Trump apologist friend insists that he believes what he wrote to be true but given his high level of education, I refuse to believe him. That he asserts such off-the-wall beliefs instead indicates to me his desperation. He understands the Trumplicans have lost the middle of the political spectrum because they lack rational arguments. They can retain power only by stirring up the most disturbed part of their base. Desperation that Trump may be on the road to political oblivion is the only reason he tries to sell this nonsense. He, of course, presents no proof of this thesis other than citing (and often misrepresenting) the works of some leftist academics, some of whom I never heard of.
However, to give the devil his due, let us try analyzing how this would work. To set the stage, I asked my friend to define ‘Western Civilization’. In several e-mails he wrote that western culture, as it manifests itself in the United States, is synonymous with English culture.
Further, he invents a whole new revision of American history, arguing that the English colonists fought the American Revolution only in order to get rid of King George III. Once they won, he asserts that the Founding Fathers did not want any new immigrants beyond the original English settlers. He offers no evidence for this assertion. Other than ignoring the significant community of Scots, Irish, and Germans who settled here with the English, he also ignores the fact that many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers were slaveowners, importing tens of thousands of black slaves into the new United States. But I digress.
Trying to prove that he is not stirring up racial hatred with this argument, my friend goes off on a tangent and attacks non-English immigrants as disloyal to American culture. As proof of their disloyalty, he wrote that he had watched Greek-Americans cheering for a Greek basketball team when it beat an American team. He also opposes allowing Greek-Americans to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. To be fair, he has not said if this applies to other non-English immigrants besides Greeks, but it would be logical to assume it does.
He wrote to me: “There are many, many of us throughout the United States who are not racists, but we have an aversion to trespass (referring to illegal immigration) … and we want whoever comes here to assimilate properly. We don't believe in the romanticized notion of America that it is a haven for the impoverished and downtrodden.” My friend seems to believe that Mexicans and Central Americans (who are Catholic or Evangelical Christian) cannot “assimilate properly.” I conclude it means that in his eyes they cannot become ‘real Americans’.
This sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it has become a mainstream mantra in Trumplican circles. Tucker Carlson, the FOX TV personality and chief philosopher for the Trumplican movement as well as the guru whom Trump consults religiously every weekday night at 8 PM (ET), has embraced this argument and given it the name “Replacement Theory.” Carlson on air, on September 22, said: “In political terms, this policy (i.e., support for more liberal immigration policies) is called the great replacement, the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries.” It has also garnered the support of social media maven Laura Ingraham and Congressman Matt Gaetz, currently under investigation for paying a 17-year old for sex. (Congressman Gaetz denies the accusation.) Laura Ingraham in 2018 said that Democrats "want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever-increasing number of chain migrants." Gaetz, for his part, tweeted last month “@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.” When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – which has led the fight against anti-Semitism and racism for decades – criticized Gaetz, he called it a ‘racist organization.’
Let’s not mince words. This is a blatant appeal for white supremacy playing up the fears of particularly poorer and more disadvantaged whites. In their fevered imagination, replacing Western Civilization in America really means replacing white control of the country with darker skinned immigrants who will magically vote Democratic. I have asked my friend to explain how this works given the fact that a high percentage of Indian American immigrants, whose skin hues are not English, tend to vote Republican, i.e., Nikki Haley.
These purveyors of ‘replacement theory’ have never been bothered by fact. But they are dangerous. Trump has made hatred of American blacks and (darker hued), an essential part of his campaign, no matter how hard his apologists try to argue otherwise.
The mass murderers in New Zealand and El Paso, Texas cited such theories to justify their crimes. The avowedly racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia took it one step backwards shouting slogans of “Jews will not replace us.” The ‘replacement theory’ resonates with that part of Trump’s base that lost its jobs because of financial engineering and automation to blame ‘Others’ (in the U.S. case, mostly people of color); Hitler did something similar with the Jews in Germany in the 1930s.
Unfortunately, Tucker Carlson, Matt Gaetz, and Laura Ingraham may sound like clowns, but they are not. And because the good and decent people of Germany regarded Hitler as a clown, they let him grab power because they did not care enough to fight for democracy.