The “Great Replacement” Conspiracy Theory Is Another Republican Effort to Erase Our History
5/20/2022 | John B. King
The horrific, racist attack this week in Buffalo, NY should be a wake up call for all of us. The perpetrator drove hours to carry out a shooting that was motivated by a belief in the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory — a bogus iteration of white supremacy and antisemitism that believes that there is an effort to replace white people with people of color. That belief has frequently been cited by mass shooters, but is not just a fringe belief of extremists and terrorists. In fact a recent poll found that one in three American adults believes in a version of the replacement theory. That is a horrifying statistic and one that has come about because of right wing pundits like Tucker Carlson who have been parroting these theories on their platforms and directly contributing to their popularity.
Right-wing Republicans are trying to push this white supremacy theory on Americans, while simultaneously passing bills that restrict education and limit the history that Americans learn. Currently, more than 15 states have passed so called “anti-critical race theory” bills into law, restricting teachers from covering certain topics in the classroom and creating a chilling effect around teaching the truth of our history. More than one in three American K-12 students are affected by these laws.
In Virginia, Republican Governor Youngkin campaigned and unfortunately was elected on this anti-truth, anti-public education agenda, and has even created a “tip line” for parents to report teachers to the state when they’re unhappy with a lesson plan. In Maryland, where I live and where my daughter attends public school, Republican candidates for governor are taking a page from the Youngkin playbook and pushing for bans on teaching certain topics and books similar to those we’re seeing in Florida and Texas. Let’s be clear here — this is a concerted effort to erase the history of Black Americans and immigrants in this country — and we cannot allow them to succeed. Not nationally, and especially not here in Maryland.
My ancestors were enslaved in a cabin in Gaithersburg, MD — just 25 miles away from where my family and I live today. In only three generations, my family went from being enslaved in that cabin to serving in the Cabinet of the nation’s first Black president. The United States is full of stories like this, stories that remind us of the darker moments in our history — and also of the progress that we are capable of when we stand up together in the face of injustice and demand change. Erasing our history and refusing to acknowledge the difficult parts of our nation’s story is harmful.
John King stands in front of the cabin in Gaithersburg where his great-grandfather, Charles King, and his family were enslaved.
We must recognize that we live in a nation where too many are still left behind, where Black communities are being targeted by racist domestic terrorists, and where deeply cynical politicians are trying to rewrite history. We must tackle the systemic racism and white supremacy in this nation head on in order to truly build a brighter, more just, more equitable future.
Read John’s full Medium post here.