This past weekend, an 18-year-old white man murdered 10 people and wounded three
others with an AR-15. The shooter traveled more than 200 miles to get to
a predominantly Black neighborhood, where he put on heavy body armor and
live streamed his attack as he gunned down people grocery shopping.
Eleven of those he shot were Black.
The Buffalo Police Commissioner, Joseph Gramaglia, said, "The evidence
that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute
racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. This is
someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind."
Before his attack, the shooter published a 180-page screed on Google
Drive. It is mostly a list of his weaponry, but in it he also explained
his belief in what is known as the "great replacement theory," embraced
by white nationalists. This is the idea that white people are losing
economic, cultural, and political power to Black people and other people
of color. The name is usually associated with a French agitator who
argued in a 2011 book that immigrants were destroying European culture,
but the theory that an "other" is destroying traditional society has
roots stretching far back in European history. In the twenty-first
century, that theory has launched right-wing political parties and
shootings around the world.
But the Buffalo shooter's ramblings drew not only from the European
theory -- although there is plenty of that in his 180 pages of racism and
anti-Semitism. They also drew from America's own version of a theory of
That theory comes out of the 1870s and was explicitly connected to
In 1867, Congress began the process of recognizing the right of Black
people to have a say in their government. In the Military Reconstruction
Act, it called for conventions in former Confederate states to write new
state constitutions and permitted Black southerners to register to vote
to choose delegates to those conventions. White supremacists scoffed at
the idea that formerly enslaved people and those white men willing to
work with them could produce coherent constitutions.
When their constitutions not only were coherent, but made adjustments to
give more representation to poorer white men than the prewar
constitutions had provided, white supremacists set out to make sure
voters did not ratify the new constitutions. Needing to avoid the U.S.
Army, still stationed in the South to protect Black people and their
white allies, the white supremacists dressed up in white sheets to look
like dead Confederate soldiers (no one was fooled) and tried to
terrorize voters to keep them from the polls.
It didn't work. Voters ratified the new constitutions, which guaranteed
Black voting. Congress readmitted the southern states to the Union, but
not until they ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
That crucially important amendment dissolved the state laws
discriminating against Black Americans. It established that Black people
were U.S. citizens and guaranteed that the U.S. government would see to
it that no state could take away the rights of any citizen without the
due process of law.
In 1870, white politicians in Georgia tried to undermine their new state
constitution. The American people then ratified the Fifteenth Amendment
protecting the right of Black men to vote. Congress also created the
Department of Justice to enable the federal government to enforce the
Fourteenth Amendment, which it promptly did. Attorney General Amos
Akerman, a former Confederate who had become a Republican, oversaw more
than 1000 cases against the Ku Klux Klan.
With the federal government holding them to account for their racist
attacks on Black Americans, southern white supremacists began to argue
that their objections to Black equality were actually about voting. By
1871, they argued that Black men voted for leaders who promised roads
and hospitals and schools. Those social investments would require tax
levies, and since the Black population was poor almost by definition
after enslavement, those taxes would fall almost entirely on the white
men who owned property. In this telling, Black voting was essentially a
redistribution of wealth from those with money to those without, from
white men to Black men. It was socialism.
White supremacists began to say that they objected to Black voting and
to the governments Black people elected not on racial grounds, but on
economic ones. They promised to "redeem" the South from the profligate
state governments that they said were bleeding tax dollars out of white
landowners to provide services for the poor, generally characterized as
Black, although there was no racial monopoly on poverty in the
post–Civil War South.
In 1876, the "Redeemers" took over the southern states, thanks partly to
the rhetoric that made them sound reasonable to northern observers and
largely to the violence that enabled them to keep Black men from the
polls. The "Solid South" would stay Democratic until Arizona Republican
senator Barry Goldwater, running for president on a platform that called
for the federal government to leave states' racial discrimination alone,
won five deep southern states in 1964.
The violence of the 1876 election, along with fears of what their lives
would look like in its wake, led Black Americans to leave the South in a
movement known as the Exodus. In 1879 and 1880, about 20,000 Black
southerners went west to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. "[T]he whole
South...had got into the hands of the very men that held us slaves," one
recalled, "and we thought that the men that held us slaves was holding
the reins of government over our heads.... [and] there was hope for us and
we had better go."
About two thousand of those migrants went to Indiana.
Indiana was a contested state in which the Republican and Democratic
parties traded power. In 1876, it had gone to the Democrats by a few
When Black Americans began to come to their state, Indiana Democrats
immediately howled that the Republicans were importing Black migrants to
shift the state back toward the Republicans in the 1880 election. Their
clamor was loud enough to cause a Senate investigation. The Democratic
majority on the select committee concluded that the Republicans must
have induced the Black southerners to leave their region because there
was well-paid work and no violence in the South; Republicans retorted
that if they were really trying to flood the electoral system, they
would have left Black Americans where they were.
But the conspiracy theory took root. White Hoosier Democrats met Black
migrants with showers of rocks and vowed to "clean out all the g–d d–
–n***ers in the county before the  election." After a political
rally in Rockport, Indiana, Democrats attacked local Black inhabitants,
shouting: "Kill them, kill them." After they shot Uriah Webb, one rioter
stood over his body and said, "One vote less," while the others cheered
Democratic presidential candidate Winfield Scott Hancock.
Racial hostility kept the Black population of Indiana small, but it also
fed the cultural and social discrimination that made Indiana the beating
heart of the resurgent Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Under violent con man
David Curtis Stephenson, who raped, mutilated, and murdered a female
state employee, the Indiana Ku Klux Klan developed the idea of "100 percent
Americanism," which argued for a hierarchy of races in which the white
race was uppermost. Immigrants and Black Americans, that theory said,
were destroying traditional America.
That argument has poisoned American politics since the 1870s. Yesterday,
the Buffalo shooter echoed the modern European great replacement theory,
but he also echoed the racial "socialist" argument of the U.S. He railed
against Black Americans, whom he wildly insisted take, on average,
$700,000 apiece from white Americans. He urged those who thought like
him not to pay taxes, which he said would be wasted on such people. Then
he warned white Americans not to become a political minority because
minorities are never treated well.
Today's Republican politicians, including Elise Stefanik of New York,
the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, have
pushed the great replacement theory for years and even after yesterday's
massacre have refused to denounce it. That theory is based in racial
hate, but it is not only about racial hate. It is also about politics,
and today Republicans are using it to create a one-party state.
"I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become
literally hysterical if you use the term 'replacement,' if you suggest
that 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," Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson, who
is one of the country's leading proponents of the great replacement
theory, said on his show. "But they become hysterical because that's
what's happening actually. Let's just say it: That's true."
It was not true in 1879, it is not true now, and people making this
argument have blood on their hands.
Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American
SEAT BELTS FASTENED?
QC | With Covid fading from our alarm systems -- it's no longer the topic of
most conversation -- and with the protesters having left Ottawa, we have
one more distraction: the war in the Ukraine. What we know we do have
to face ultimately, what's waiting outside, is huge: the climate crash.
It's too big to compare to even war and pandemic.
The conspiracy-brains among us are preparing again to "pivot", and they
will read conspiracy into even talk about our collapsing climate.
These modern-day Contras are already gearing up, sharpening and
polishing their push-back -- and, of course, collecting money. Big
money, for such a big topic. There will be plenty flowing from all the
interests who would rather ignore or deny the climate threats and get
back to business-as-usual. Go ahead, list all the possible sources of
support for questioning the reality or severity or time-frame of climate
disintegration. Start with the tar-sands and fossil fuels.
This coming contest is just shaping up its battle lines now, and the
forces already on board with questioning climate change will easily
multiply their efforts. They have buckets of money to "convince"
professional politicians, the media and celebrities in general. Elon
Musk's capture of Twitter is one example.
But equally the environmentalists and the youth are mobilizing. They'll
be blamed for focussing only on the ill-effects of what we claim is our
civilization. Watch the movement grow to cancel the radioactive dump on
the Ottawa River, just upstream from most of us, as one example. The
Friday protests of school kids will multiply; but so too will
youth-attractive celebrities selling anything except climate collapse.
Big money, yes, of course. So many of the largest corporations and
banks are inter-twined with fossil fuel industries, we can't expect an
easy struggle to contain and even remake our changing world. We've
already heard plenty from the corporations. Musk has already
characterized any modification of society to avoid the worst as an
assault on "personal freedom". Freedom, to this bright light, is more
valuable than mere existence.
And include something else here: the cry, "we need to earn a living!"
Because someone can earn their living here, we are immoral to shut down
or even restrict oil and gas, mining, clear-cutting forests, and, I
suppose, chemical agriculture. These employ millions around the world,
and those millions all have families to feed, mortgages to pay, and
debts to cover. Again, being debt-free or being able to buy a new car,
an ATV, buy groceries, go on a trip, even to space, is more important
than to continue existing. Pretty strange logic!
Sure, none of this is amusing. We, on the sole planet in the universe
which supports any form of consciousness (that we know of), will be
asked to give even that up if it threatens the corporate fortunes of the
Will money flow to those think-tanks arguing that our existence is just
an evolutionary accident, anyway, so why limit the happiness of many
just so the majority can survive?
Will money flow to organizations, to organizers and leaders of
Will money flow to social media, the famous stuff that makes people
suicidal -- but free! -- and which will confuse the issues and
smoke-screen the possibilities of improving and innovating ourselves
out of this future?
Must the four or five percent who own most of the world's resources keep
control of those assets, even if it means a surprisingly quick end to
Just Outside Washington
I SUPPORT THE UKRAINE ~
WHAT TO DO?
I sat down
the other day and said to myself: "I support the Ukrainian people and
the Ukraine government in their battle to remain a sovereign nation. Why
we even have a vase of sunflowers, the Ukrainian national flower, on the
table. But wait, that is moral support, what about actual support that
can make a difference?"
FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
CANADA'S NDP TO SUPPORT
SHAWVILLE, QC | The three-week old alliance of the federal
Liberals and NDP has generated plenty of comment by the media's talking
heads. It's not difficult to predict that the NDP will get some clear
wins out of this agreement -- pharmacare is a big one, but others cover
health, climate change and affordability legislation. These should all
aid the population as a whole, although paying for these new programs
seems to be the second big question. But, after Covid's expenses, what
are billions more?
IN CANADA: OUR NEIGHBOURS
SHAWVILLE, QC | But wouldn't Putin also be smiling (if he ever
does smile) over last weekend's big rally in Orlando, Florida. The
America First Political Action Committee (of the Republican Party)
hosted this event which concluded with ten minutes of chanting, "Putin!
...Putin! ..." . "Even America supports me," Mr Putin must have told
FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
Just Outside Washington
piece is targeted at my grandchildren and others in the younger set. It
is the result of a conversation over lunch with my friend, who is an
economist, investment advisor, former banker, and currently
international consultant. The piece recommends saving money because as
Tennessee Williams said: "You can be young without money, but you can't
be old without it."
FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
JANE DOES THE
This is one of 30 short
poems in the chapbook Placing No Markers by Jason Krpan. You can
download the book for free at Bookfellows.