Voices: ‘Great Replacement’ theory comes from Putin’s playbook – via Trump

In order to obtain the hallowed Trump endorsement, candidates must embrace ‘the big lie’ without qualification (Getty Images)
In order to obtain the hallowed Trump endorsement, candidates must embrace ‘the big lie’ without qualification (Getty Images)

Before he became a Senator, Al Franken was a full-time comedian who wrote a book entititled “Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell them, “with the subtitle “A Fair and Balanced Look At the Right.”

Fox News sought an injunction and damages for violation of its mendacious trademark, “fair and balanced.” Fox called him “intoxicated or deranged” and “shrill and unstable.” The suit was dismissed and the audio version of the book won a Grammy.

Franken’s book compared the policies of George W Bush and Bill Clinton on the environment, the economy and defense. He included a comic called “The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus,” satirising those who invoked conservative economic policies as motivated by Christianity.

Another animated featured was called “Operation Chicken-hawk,” where John Kerry and Al Gore – who actually fought in Vietnam – led into battle well known neoconservatives, who did not serve. The chicken-hawk neocons end up fragging the actual Democratic veterans.

From the vantage point of 2022, this all seems like a bit of harmless fun. Public discourse in the early years of the new century seemed to make some distinction between truth and lies – and pointing out dishonesty had some resonance. People even resigned when caught in a flat-out lie.

Not any more. And now the blithe propagation of obvious falsehoods for political advantages is getting people killed.

Trump’s 30,000 or so lies during his single four year presidential term turned truth into a vague, elusive, even irrelevant concept. The truth no longer has objective referents; the truth has become what the Trump tribe either wants to be true – or reflects a projection of Trump’s dishonesty on various core issues onto his opponents.

In order to obtain the hallowed Trump endorsement, candidates must embrace “the big lie” without qualification, and vie to go further and further into the Universe of Shameless Mendacity: the election was “rigged” and “stolen”. The 6 January insurrectionists were non-violent patriots. Mike Pence had the power to change the result, but lacked the cojones to do so.

They have to believe the conspiracy theories that George Soros funded Antifa, who was running a false flag operation. And that Soros was the vanguard of Jewish-inspired Replacement Theory, seeking to replace “real” native-born Americans – white Christians – with immigrants, African Americans, Hispanics, miscegenationists, and, of course, Jews (never mind the millions of white Christians who were born abroad, or whose parents or grandparents were born abroad, like Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump – or the millions of immigrant, Black, Hispanic and Jewish soldiers; as well as LGBT+ people forced to deny their identities who have fought in America’s wars, while Trump and McCarthy and Tucker Carlson and Elise Stefanik were climbing the greasy young Conservative pole).

After initially being terrified and outraged by the events of 6 January, the Republican leadership fully fell into line with the new Trump orthodoxy, which supports insurrection (and now, the Great Replacement Theory) and flirts with QAnon’s paedophilia obsession. This is no longer psychotic, tin-hat extremism. It is picking up converts at the highest levels. No doubt, the next Congress will be far worse.

When called on these obvious racist dog whistles by mainstream outlets, they quickly and angrily denounce any suggestion that they are advocating Replacement Theory. They are trying to have it both ways, narrowcasting racist poison to their internet acolytes and Trumpist “base,” while trying to maintain a veneer of respectability to a wider audience.

And Republican Governors from Florida to Texas indicate grave concern that “our children” are somehow going to “catch” being gay or be coerced into transitioning. They seem to have no problem with far-right social media indoctrination, but believe kids need to be prevented from even considering issues of identity. From Pittsburgh to El Paso to Orlando and now Buffalo, people are dying from this opportunistic bigotry.

The truth is irrelevant; fealty is all that is required to the Great Leader. Blind loyalty to any and all of the Great Leader’s Doublespeak, no matter how ludicrous or disprovable, is all that matters. All of this has an eerie current parallel: it seems to be right out of the Putin playbook of lies, projection, hatred of foreigners and the LGBT community and, of course, that old standby – antisemitism.

There are no inhibitions to telling the most outrageous lies or fear of legal consequences. Russian-speaking Ukrainians are under threat of persecution by Ukrainian fascists and Nazis. Ukrainians are preparing to use bio-weapons carried by migratory birds. Ukrainians are faking the deaths of women in maternity wards and on the streets in Bucha.

Putin’s foreign minister said on an Italian TV show, “So what if Zelensky is Jewish? The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. Hitler also had Jewish blood…the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

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All of this is false and virtually no one in Russia cares. Putin’s Russian Civilisation is preoccupied with “traditional values,” which is deeply homophobic and xenophobic

There is a difference, however, between Russia and the United States. Russia’s independent media has been shut down. American media can still call out obvious lies; it can and must take responsibility for the violence and insurrection that it has and continues to spawn. It does not.

The Republican Party’s attack on the truth and free speech – in media, in textbooks, by Disney and other multinationals – is accelerating rapidly and the Republican party values MAGA loyalty than any of the neutral values at the core of ordered liberty.

There is a great deal of opinion of all stripes in the public square; but some things are true and some things are lies – and we are at great risk that naked political power will blur the difference between opinion and fact and destroy the ability to speak and defend the truth. Alexander Vindman wrote a book called “Here Truth Matters.” He lost his job. It may well be just the beginning.