Republican border ‘invasion’ rhetoric is a racist political campaign dog whistle – The Arizona Republic

Peter Cvjetanovic (R) and other White nationalists march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville on Friday, August 11, 2017. (Via OlyDrop)

At the end of some less than charitable messages I’ve received lately there is an acronym, set in capital letters, sometimes with a hashtag mark, that reads:


It stands for “you will not replace us,” a white supremacist slogan based on an ugly conspiracy theory that started in France, was picked up by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, and has become the campaign strategy of Republicans all over the country.

Including many in Arizona.

It’s sick. And sad.

But it’s here.

Where the ‘replacement’ theory came from

The first time it got any attention was when the supremacists rallying in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”

They were playing off a book published in France some years earlier claiming that Europe was being overrun by immigrants (in this case, Muslim and Black immigrants) under a plan by “elites” to replace native-born Europeans.

This ugly “replacement theory” was quickly picked up by nativists here and expanded to “you will not replace us.”

Fox host Tucker Carlson has repeated claims on his show that President Joe Biden wants to “to change the racial mix of the country” through immigration.

Carlson said, “In political terms, this policy is called ‘the great replacement,’ the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries.”

It’s sick. And sad. And this being America … it caught on.

Arizona candidates have joined the chorus

The Ohio senate candidate J.D. Vance, who, along with Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, is backed by PayPal billionaire Peter Theil, said not long ago on Carlson’s show, “Democrat politicians have decided that they can’t win reelection in 2022 unless they bring in a large number of new voters to replace the voters that are already here. That’s what this is about. We have an invasion in this country because very powerful people get richer and more powerful because of it.”

That word – “invasion” – as become the racist dog whistle for Republican campaigns and the ugly “replacement theory” behind it.

Resident conspiracy fanatic and Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers jumped on the bandwagon.

She tweeted: “We are being replaced and invaded.”

GOP is using fear and hate as a campaign strategy

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican candidate for Senate, tried to get some attention by claiming that the border crisis fit the “constitutional definition of an invasion.”

Republican Senate candidate Jim Lamon heeds the call of the dog whistle as well, saying things like, “Joe Biden’s and Mark Kelly’s border invasion is wreaking havoc on America and destroying our country!”

Kari Lake, the Trump sycophant and Republican candidate for governor, said, “On day one, I will issue a declaration of invasion. We’re going to send our troops down to the border – the Arizona National Guard Troops – we’re going to arm them and allow them to arrest and detain people until we process them and send them back over the border.”

Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters says as much, pushing the replacement theory. In a video posted on Twitter he claimed that Democrats want to “change the demographics of this country” in order to “consolidate power so they can never lose another election.”

Creating an honest and fair immigration system, and a secure border, is a sensible, necessary national policy. This isn’t that.

This is an attempt to use fear and deep-seeded insecurities to win elections. And it works.

It’s politically effective and also deadly

An Associated Press/University of Chicago poll showed that nearly a third of Americans have bought into the “great replacement” theory.

But while it is being used by the GOP to try to win elections, it is also getting people killed.

Several mass shootings have been linked to gunmen who bought into the “great replacement” theory.

The Aug. 3, 2019, shooting in El Paso, for example, in which a gunman opened fire inside a Walmart.

Likewise the Oct. 27, 2018, mass shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

It’s sick. And sad.

And this being an election year, it’s just getting started.

Reach Montini at

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