Midway through last week’s Republican presidential-primary debate, the entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy started running through conspiracy theories like a frustrated child mashing buttons on Street Fighter, alleging that the Capitol riot was an “inside job” and that the so-called “Great Replacement” theory “is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory, but a basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform.”
Right-wing apologism for January 6 is no longer shocking, not even from Republican presidential candidates. Trumpists often vacillate between denying it happened, justifying and valorizing those who attempted to overthrow the government to keep Donald Trump in power, or insisting that they were somehow tricked into it by undercover agents provocateurs. But the basic facts remain: January 6 was a farcical but genuine attempt to overthrow the constitutional government, which many Trump supporters think is defensible because only conservatives should be allowed to hold power.
It was slightly more bizarre to watch Ramaswamy justify “the Great Replacement,” a white-supremacist conspiracy theory holding that, in the words of the disgraced former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.” This conviction has motivated slaughter in Buffalo, New York; El Paso, Texas; and as far away as New Zealand. Seeing Ramaswamy invoke it was strange because he, the practicing Hindu son of Indian immigrants, is an obvious example of why it is a dumb idea.
Since Trump’s election, in 2016, the Great Replacement has gone from the far-right fringe to the conservative mainstream. [Continue reading…]