The manifesto is entitled ‘The Great Replacement Theory’, a conspiracy theory that has been around for a long time and has gained more support in the past 10 years. People who believe in this think that white people in Europe and the US are being replaced by minorities. Terrorists such as Anders Breivik (Oslo, 2011) and Brenton Harrison Tarrant (Christchurch, 2019) used the theory for their attacks.
In the US, there have been racist attacks like this before: in 2018 a man shot and killed 20 visitors in a synagogue in Pittsburg and in 2019 there was an attack on Latinos in El Paso.
1. What does the Buffalo shooter manifest say?
The gunman Payton Gendron writes in the manifesto that he was bored in his teenage room during the pandemic and went to check the website 8chan. There he discovered all kinds of stories about how white people would not reproduce well enough, and how other population groups are growing faster. He radicalized and came to believe in the theory of ‘population’: that white citizens would be consciously replaced by citizens of color.
Finally he got to the act this weekend. Eyewitnesses tell in the video below that they saw a man in a military uniform, who suddenly started shooting:
2. Where does this extreme right-wing, racist ideology come from?
It has been circulating in the neo-Nazi community for decades, but has been cited repeatedly by mass murderers since the 2000s. In the internet storyline, the demographic change would have been deliberately orchestrated by “left-wing elites” controlled by powerful Jewish men.
The goal would be to import more left-wing voters so that “classic Americans” or the “traditional natives” (read: white residents) have less power. There is no evidence for this, it is a conspiracy theory based on racism.
3. Why is this idea now alive?
In the US and in other countries too, the population is changing rapidly. White people will no longer be in the majority in America by the year 2045. They are then simply one of the population groups, although the largest group, but no longer the majority. Some people find it difficult to accept that and speak of the end of a culture.
4. Is this limited to vague corners of the internet?
The erroneous theory of depopulation is also being disseminated in a watered-down form by Fox News, the right-wing cable channel. Presenters on that channel tell their white viewers night after night that “you are being replaced by immigrants” or that President Biden wants to “radically change the race mix of this country.” Guests on the channel talk about ‘a war against white people’.
And because Fox has had a huge impact on the Republican party, you can now also see politicians talking about an ‘invasion on the southern border’ with the intention of ‘replacement’.
5. Do we know how large the group is that adhere to this ‘population theory’?
Not exactly, but America’s largest news agency, the Associated Press, had a poll conducted. Thirty percent of those polled said they think there is “an effort to replace US-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains.”
Supporters of ‘population theory’ in the Netherlands
Historically and in contrast to countries around us, the Netherlands has few right-wing extremist organizations and activities. That says the NCTV, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism. Right-wing extremist groups in the Netherlands have a low degree of organization, lack charismatic leaders, lack cooperation and are often divided among themselves.
The biggest threat at the moment is ‘accelerationism’. Supporters of this ideology glorify and justify terrorist violence in order to accelerate a race war. They want to create chaos and replace the current political system with a white (National Socialist) ethno-state. The depopulation theory is popular within these circles. It is estimated that there are several hundred young people in the Netherlands who are engaged with these ideas online, and some of them pose a threat, according to the most recent report of the NCTV. They are usually young men with psychosocial and/or personal problems, but they can also be ‘system hating angry citizens’.