UPDATED: 10:30 p.m. ET, with more information about Payton Gendron’s manifesto.
The apparent white supremacist who was safely arrested Saturday following a deadly mass shooting in a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, left behind a manifesto that espoused a racist conspiracy theory that’s become increasingly popular among those holding far-right, ultra-conservative and mainstream Republican views, according to multiple credible reports.
The so-called “White Replacement Theory” was referenced in the manifesto written by Payton S. Gendron, the suspect who allegedly killed at least 10 people at a Tops Friendly Market location, according to unconfirmed reports from verified sources on social media that also claimed most, if not all of the fatal victims were Black.
Gendron’s manifesto also claimed he was most influenced by the racist terrorist who killed dozens of Muslims worshiping at a mosque in New Zealand in 2019, the New York Daily News reported. Other people Gendron named as his inspirations for his killing spree in Buffalo include Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine parishioners at a historically Black church in South Carolina in 2015.
That supports the suggestion that Gendron targeted the supermarket not only because he knew it was in a Black neighborhood but also because he expected Black people to be inside.
It also lends further credence to the reports that Gendron, who was arraigned later Saturday afternoon, was “espousing the White Replacement Theory” in the alleged manifesto.
What is White Replacement Theory?
At face value, the name of the conspiracy theory offers a generous hint at what people who ascribe to it believe. But on a granular level, it’s much more troubling than that because it is based on the insecure fear that white people will eventually go extinct.
“The idea is that somehow, nonwhite people or outsiders or strangers or foreigners will overtake the United States via immigration, reproduction and seizure of political power,” Kathleen Belew, co-editor of “A Field Guide to White Supremacy,” told NPR back in September.
The racist conspiracy has its origins in anti-Semitism but has since spread to Black and brown people, thanks to folks like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, former President Donald Trump and Texas Lt. Dan Patrick, who have all vehemently pushed the White Replacement Theory in one way or another.
White Replacement Theory incites violence
A report published last year addressed “how the perceived ousting of Whites can evoke violent extremism.” It found in part that “Increased immigration and demographic changes have not only resulted in political pushback, but also in violent attacks against immigrants.” The report said it found “evidence” that White Replacement Theory “has tremendous potential to lead to violent extremism.”
The report also pointed to “Several recent terrorist attacks committed by White supremacists” to back up its findings.
White Replacement Theory is especially popular among Republicans
The Washington Post reported that the Republican embrace of White Replacement Theory “has been a slow build” in recent years and began on the Party’s fringes. Trump’s candidacy and presidency seemingly helped usher White Replacement Theory into the Party’s mainstream.
One of those republicans apparently inspired by trump’s racist White Replacement Theory rhetoric has been Patrick, the lieutenant governor in Texas, who, not coincidentally, once blamed Black Texans for the state’s spike in COVID-19 infections even though data showed otherwise.
Referring to White replacement Theory as “a revolution,” Patrick went full-on white supremacist sympathizer during an interview about immigration on Fox News last year.
“When I say a revolution has begun, they are allowing this year probably 2 million—that is who we apprehended, maybe another million—into this country,” Patrick said about President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. “At least in 18 years, even if they all don’t become citizens before then and can vote, in 18 years every one of them has two or three children, you’re talking about millions and millions and millions of new voters, and they will thank the Democrats and Biden for bringing them here.”
White Replacement Theory has allegedly inspired other mass shootings
The massacre in Buffalo is not the first deadly mass shooting attributed to and allegedly inspired by White Replacement Theory.
Notably, Brenton Tarrant killed at least 51 people in an Islamaphobic terrorist attack at a mosque in New Zealand in 2019. It was later reported that Tarrant was “influenced” by Candace Owens, who, despite her own African American race, is known for her anti-Black views that routinely side with known purveyors of anti-Black racism like the aforementioned Carlson and Trump. Tarrant left behind a manifesto that cited Owens as “the person that has influenced me above all.”
Also in 2019, Patrick Crucius killed nearly two dozen people in a mass shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas. He left behind not only a manifesto but also a digital footprint that showed his support and sympathy for a white nationalist agenda. Underscoring Crucius’ membership in the White Replacement Theory movement, pages of his manifesto included anti-immigrant rhetoric that “decried race mixing,” supported the idea to “send them back” and predicted “genocide.”
Fear of a Black planet
Nearly a year ago, it was revealed that the 2020 Census found the number of white people in the United States fell for the first time since 1970, determining that it’s a matter of when — not if — they will become the minority.
According to the data, the number of white people in the U.S. dropped by nearly 3% in the decade from 2010 to 2020.
The 2.6% decline was eclipsed by the 35% growth shown by Asians in the U.S. and 23% for Hispanics.
The pace with which Black America grew was more than double that of whites with 5.6%.
That means white people now account for 11% less of the U.S. population than they did 10 years ago.
On a granular level, more than one-third of all adults in the U.S. identify as being non-white. That was compared to 25% in 2010. And nearly half of all children in the U.S. are non-white, a demographic that showed a double-digit growth over the last decade.
Thirty-six percent of adults are non-white, up from 25% a decade ago. Children are now 47% non-white, up from 35% in 2010.
That data likely exacerbated the urgency racists feel when it comes to White Replacement Theory.