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Republicans want to ban abortion and starve immigrant babies because of the Great Replacement Theory

The implications of the Great Replacement Theory are openly genocidal

Noah Berlatsky
New York
Tuesday 17 May 2022 16:05
<p>Elise Stefanik took issue with baby formula being sent to the southern border </p>

Elise Stefanik took issue with baby formula being sent to the southern border

The nationwide baby formula shortage is caused by numerous factors: there are supply chain issues related to Covid, and there was a closure of a major plant because of safety concerns at the beginning of the year. It’s a nonpartisan, logistical issue, without much potential for racist animus.

Or so you’d think. But a number of leading Republican politicians have been quick to use the shortage to whip up hatred.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott attacked the Democratic Biden administration for providing formula to immigrant infants held in detention. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, tweeted: “White House, House Dems, & usual pedo grifters are so out of touch with the American people that rather than present ANY PLAN or urgency to address the nationwide baby formula crisis, they double down on sending pallets of formula to the southern border.”

Stefanik’s irresponsible, hateful, and baseless claim that her enemies are child abusers is not even the most horrific part of that tweet. In demonizing the provision of formula to immigrant children, she and Abbott are saying that the government should allow babies held in detention to starve to death.

The callous disregard for the lives of babies seems at odds with Republican claims to be a party that is particularly and even obsessively focused on the welfare of fetuses. As the Supreme Court appears prepared to strike down abortion protections, state Republicans are moving to ban abortion even in cases where the mother’s life is threatened and in cases of rape and incest. For Republicans, fetuses must be protected, no matter the suffering of their mothers — until they are born, at which point the viable infants should be denied food by the government.

Republicans don’t see a contradiction because for them reproductive policy is inseparable from racist nationalism. American fetuses are to be preserved as a precious state resource — per Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s suggestion in his leaked draft opinion that banning abortion would help ensure a “domestic supply of infants” for adoption. In contrast, the fetuses of non-white immigrants are a threat. They are bad babies, literally sucking resources away from good babies.

The politics here are not a politics of life. They’re a politics of cramped, cruel reproductive nationalism. Pregnant people and infants in this view are not valuable in themselves. Their lives only matter insofar as they advance the nationalist goals of a racialized state. Lives that are in line with those nationalist goals are to be preserved; those that don’t — whether mothers or infants — are disposable.

Reproductive nationalism is an extremely volatile ideology. Its most dangerous form is the Great Replacement Theory. People who adopt this racist conspiracy theory believe that there is a plot to diminish the influence of white people across the western world.

Various forms of this conspiracy are intertwined with the history of racism going back decades and even centuries. On the right, the most popular current form of the theory claims that the Democratic party and/or Jewish people are trying to flood the US with immigrants who will vote against Republicans and put in place policies which disadvantage white people.

The Great Replacement Theory has become a staple of right-wing media. Fox pundit Tucker Carlson, who anchors the most popular show on the network, has advanced some form of the theory in more than 400 episodes going back to 2016. His regular guest Glenn Greenwald was warning of “unmanageably endless hordes of people [who] pour over the border in numbers far too large to assimilate” in a flagrantly racist post as far back as 2005.

The implications of the Great Replacement Theory are openly genocidal. The existence of immigrants is presented as a nefarious, deliberate threat to white people. Violence against non-white people can therefore be framed as self-defense.

Sure enough, a grim parade of right-wing extremists have been inspired to violent action by these theories. The Great Replacement Theory was cited by the shooter who killed 11 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018; he believed Jewish people were plotting to increase immigration. In March 2019, a white supremacist citing the Great Replacement Theory murdered 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand. In August 2019, a white supremacist inspired by the Great Replacement Theory killed 23 people at a Walmart in a Hispanic neighborhood in El Paso. And this weekend, a white supremacist drove to a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY, and killed 10 people. In an online document, he too said he was motivated by the Great Replacement Theory.

For white nationalists, individual human beings have little value in themselves. They’re merely pawns or chits in a sweeping drama of racial conflict. They believe that white supremacy must triumph, and in pursuit of that goal they are happy to hijack uteruses, harm infants, and murder people in stores and houses of worship.

This isn’t just the rhetoric of isolated extremists; it’s increasingly the open ideology of right-wing pundits and Republican politicians. When a mainstream political party openly advocates for starving babies, the future looks bleak.

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