[Marxism] The El Paso Screed, and the Racist Doctrine Behind It
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 7 12:51:10 MDT 2019
NY Times, Aug. 7, 2019
The El Paso Screed, and the Racist Doctrine Behind It
By John Eligon
From Pittsburgh to Christchurch, and now El Paso, white men accused of
carrying out deadly mass shootings have cited the same paranoid fear:
the extinction of the white race.
The threat of the “great replacement,” or the idea that white people
will be replaced by people of color, was cited directly in the four-page
screed written by the man arrested in the killing of 22 people in El
Paso over the weekend.
The phrase was coined in 2012 by the French author Renaud Camus, whose
writing on white genocide echoes at least a century of white supremacist
views. But some experts now fear the doctrine of replacement is being
embraced more readily by lone wolf white terrorists and even some
politicians, producing a particularly dangerous climate.
“These series of shootings all have an element of fear and anxiety
created by this concept of being replaced,” said Oren Segal, the
director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “When you
think your race is going to go extinct, you will do anything to protect
Mr. Camus has sought to distance himself from white supremacists,
writing in an email to The New York Times that nonviolence was central
to his philosophy. Yet he did not shy away from saying he believed that
people of white European descent were at risk of being wiped out by
immigrants and people of color. If white supremacists held those views,
“Good for them,” he wrote. “That is indeed my belief.”
The shooting in the immigrant-rich town of El Paso on Saturday was among
the deadliest attacks in the United States motivated by white extremism
since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, according
to the A.D.L. About 56 percent of the extremist murders committed in the
United States over the past decade were carried out by people espousing
white supremacist ideology such as the great replacement, A.D.L.
Mr. Camus disputed his role in inspiring the accused El Paso gunman,
whose screed, posted online minutes before the massacre, said the attack
was the result of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Mr. Camus also denied
influencing the man accused of killing 51 people in the mosque shootings
in Christchurch, New Zealand, who wrote a document using the same title
as Mr. Camus’s book, “The Great Replacement,” before the vicious attack
was carried out.
Mr. Camus questioned whether either gunman could have read his book
because it has not been translated into English, he said. The themes
however have been repeated on far-right websites and by right-wing pundits.
Analysts say Mr. Camus’s writing — and the idea of a great replacement —
has undoubtedly influenced the conversation among American white
nationalists. The ideas espoused in the great replacement build on the
most popular white supremacist talking point — the false notion that
white people are at risk of genocide, said Heidi Beirich, the director
of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
That is a shift in the narrative from 20 years ago, she said, when white
supremacists mostly talked about their superiority as a race. Now, their
discussions center on a belief that they are the victims of nonwhite
invasions, Ms. Beirich said.
“If you’re getting invaded, what do you need to do?” she asked,
explaining the logic of white supremacists. “You need to repel the
People who have that mind-set — fueled by the belief that violently
defending the white race is not only heroic but rational — can be
particularly lethal in this moment, experts said.
Ms. Beirich added that Mr. Camus’s writings lend an “academic veneer and
sophisticatedness” to these racist views.
“White nationalism isn’t new, but what we need to recognize is that from
Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to Poway to El Paso, these aren’t outliers
on a scatter plot,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the
Anti-Defamation League. “These are data points on a trend line. And
that’s a trend line that indicates clearly and unambiguously that white
supremacy is a global threat.”
Replacement theory also perpetuates the false and anti-Semitic view that
the end of the white race is part of a Jewish conspiracy.
During a march in Charlottesville two summers ago, white supremacists
yelled, “Jews will not replace us,” while carrying tiki torches. The
following day, one of them killed a woman when he rammed his car into a
crowd of counterprotesters.
In April, a gunman entered a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and began
shooting. Authorities believe the gunman posted a manifesto riddled with
anti-Semitic, racist slurs before the attack. Like the El Paso document,
the screed declared support for the shooting in Christchurch and warned
of the great replacement.
“It is the conspiracy theory du jour that they use to make sense of the
world and justify their racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic worldview,” Mr.
Representative Steve King of Iowa espoused replacement-theory talking
points in an interview with a far-right Austrian publication last year.
President Trump has repeatedly referred to an “invasion” of migrants
into the country. And his idea for a border wall is the kind of thing
that excites replacement-theory adherents, said Jeff Schoep, a former
leader of a neo-Nazi organization.
“It’s probably one of the greatest fears that people in the movement
have, is basically being replaced,” said Mr. Schoep, who says he now
denounces white supremacist views.
Mr. Camus’s philosophy aligns lock-step with a tradition of white
supremacist ideology that dates to Madison Grant, “the most influential
racist in American history,” said Jonathan Spiro, a historian who is the
chief academic officer at Castleton University.
Grant’s 1916 book, “The Passing of the Great Race,” argued that Nordics
were the master race and lamented the threat posed by people who were
not white. His book was a basis for the Immigration Act of 1924 that
mostly limited immigration into the United States to people from Western
Europe, and it inspired Adolf Hitler, who used the book as a manual for
his eugenic practices, said Dr. Spiro, who wrote a biography of Grant.
Mr. Camus’s theory of the great replacement shares the same ideas found
in Grant’s book, Dr. Spiro said.
Mr. Schoep, who is in his 40s and was the head of the National Socialist
Movement, joined the white nationalist movement as a teenager. In his
mind at the time, it was not about hate, he said.
“I was joining something to save my country, to save my race, to save my
people,” Mr. Schoep said. “Now I feel like that talk and some of that
hate is coming to a head where it’s more violent, more pronounced and
people are doing terrible things.”
That rising violence, as well as experiences he has had with people of
other races, led Mr. Schoep to leave the movement this past winter, he
said. He now disavows white supremacist beliefs, and he hopes that he
can steer other white supremacists away from the movement, he said,
adding that it will not be easy.
The sense of grievance among white nationalists remains deep, and many
still feel marginalized, which leads to more attacks, Mr. Schoep said.
What happened in El Paso “is exactly the type of thing that concerns me
and worries me for the future,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s going
to be the last one.”
For Ibram X. Kendi, a historian and director of the Antiracist Research
and Policy Center at American University, that might be true, but it is
not necessarily surprising.
“The United States has always been in the midst of a white nationalist
terrorist crisis,” said Mr. Kendi.
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