I was standing on the corner of 1st street and Main in Cedar Falls when a flatbed truck with a confederate flag and straight pipes “slowed down to take a look at me.” Then roared through the intersection. The volume from its acceleration and the black smoke that came from its tailpipes stopped everyone in their tracks.
I turned to a friend and joked: “A hundred bucks says that wasn’t a Democrat.”
She offered a more openminded perspective. “We can’t be sure.”
She was correct. We can’t be sure. But….
My generalization was made from a preponderance of evidence. Generalizations are never fair, but inductive reasoning can identify trends.
For example, it is not fair to generalize that being a Republican (or a conservative in the broader political context) automatically makes someone a racist. However, even if someone is not racist, that does not absolve them if they participate in trends that are.
In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket, Fox News ran a banner that accused “Dems” of engaging in a “smear campaign to cast all Republicans as racist.”
Even if the majority of Republicans are not racist, there are trends within Republican/conservatism that allows platforms that are. That, in turn, breeds racism.
The shooter, a young white man, had written a screed posted online that said the shoppers came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”
The shooting was the manifestation of a theory called “The Great Replacement” that holds that America’s white population is being replaced by non-white immigrants as part of a leftwing conspiracy.
I could have flippantly responded after hearing the first reports from Buffalo: “A hundred bucks says the shooter wasn’t a liberal.”
(I just heard an angry roar as loud as that tailpipe from several readers)
No, I do not believe Democrats and liberals are always saints, all-knowing, altruistic, or incapable of horrendous acts. They can lose their minds, too. But even a pedestrian analysis of ideologies shows that the left will consider “Critical Race Theory” to cast light onto systemic issues of racism, while on the right, white nationalist ideas like “The Great Replacement Theory” find fertile ground.
Tucker Carlson from Fox News is wildly popular with conservatives and argues that Democrats encourage immigration to increase “obedient”voters.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), along with other Republican lawmakers echo tenets of such theories with anti-immigration rhetoric that fires up their base.
Stefanik, in a midterm election ad, states: “Radical Democrats are planning a permanent election insurrection” (through immigration reform).
What do Carlson and Stefanik mean if not to promote the idea that America could become less white if Democrats win? What do they mean other than to galvanize white voters afraid of being “replaced”? How is that anything but “The Great Replacement Theory”?
That’s how dangerous and nonsensical conspiracy theories trend and how the ugliness of xenophobia has been allowed to creep from the fringe into mainstream conservatism. That’s how a racist agenda finds its way onto the political platform of even those who don’t share such heinous ideas.
And that, unfortunately, is the trend that could keep me winning those hundred-dollar bets.