Racist White Replacement Theory Goes Mainstream With Republicans

Racial responses to immigration begin with the arrival of the first non-white immigrants on U.S. shores during California’s gold rush. While the United States was actively attempting to increase immigration from Northern and Western Europe, as soon as a different group of people began to arrive, Americans developed mechanisms to exclude them. In the 1870s, the slogan was “and whatever happens, the Chinese must go,” and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 did exactly that: exclude non-white immigration from China. By the 1890s, a wide range of different immigrants sailed to American ports who did not look like the northern Europeans who were the first wave of settlers. 

V. S. McClatchy, the newspaper publisher, president of the Associated Press, and virulent anti-Asian campaigner, embodied the growing animus toward immigrants through his writings and testimony before Congress as he pushed for a ban on all Asian immigration. Politicians set out to stop the new arrivals, and scholars promoted the superiority of the Nordic race through eugenics and race pseudoscience. In the 1920s, President Calvin Coolidge campaigned to “keep America American” and signed into law the Johnson-Reed Immigration act of 1924, which banned Asian immigration and severely curtailed immigration from anywhere outside northern Europe. Senator David Reed of Pennsylvania, the co-author of the law that is commonly referred to as the national origins quotas, wrote an article that ran on the front page of The New York Times under the title “America of the melting pot comes to an end.” Reed concluded, “We have closed the doors just in time to prevent our nordic population being overrun by lower races.” In the 1930s and 1940s, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime took eugenics to its grisly conclusion with the "Final Solution" and the murder of 6 million Jews and other minorities, which forced a national reckoning in Germany with the consequences of racial pseudoscience. In the United States, there was never a complete reckoning with the race science that justified the 1924 national origins quotas. Although the underlying pseudoscience was disproved, the immigration policies that were created based on eugenics persisted through the 1960s. Obscure foundations like the Pioneer Fund continued to provide money for eugenics research and white supremacist causes. Even as the Immigration Act of 1965, which was passed as part of the Civil Rights Movement, removed the discriminatory national origins quotas, Senator Ted Kennedy pledged that the racial makeup of America would not be affected: “Our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. The ethnic mix of this country will not be upset.” Kennedy’s pledge turned out to be wrong, and a new anti-immigrant movement emerged in the 1970s at the intersection of environmental population control efforts and white supremacy, mirroring the eugenics and white supremacist coalition of the 1920s.

In the late 20th century, John Tanton, a small-town ophthalmologist in upstate Michigan, built an anti-immigrant movement from scratch by founding dozens of different organizations and courting donors like Cordelia Scaife May, who was one of the wealthiest people in the United States. Even as the Tanton network of anti-immigrant groups including FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA eventually distanced themselves from Tanton’s racist writings and affiliations, Scaife May’s funding dramatically increased their influence in Washington, D.C., and around the country. The Tanton network built alliances with conservative politicians like Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. They also spread their anti-immigrant message through right-wing radio hosts and like-minded media figures such as former CNN and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Steve Bannon, then chief executive at Breitbart News, as they looked for a presidential candidate that could take their anti-immigrant campaign to the White House. They found him in 2016, when Donald Trump ran for president on a pledge to build a wall to stop an invasion of “criminals, rapists, and murders” from crossing the border. as president, he enacted a Muslim ban and sought to stop all immigration to the United States in order to put “America First” and “Make America Great Again.” Even though Trump lost in 2020, the fact that over 74 million people voted for him demonstrated that his brand of nativism continues to be a potent force in American politics.

Source : https://www.teenvogue.com/story/great-replacement-theory-immigration-laws

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