White Men's Swan Song
I’m writing this in response to today’s mass murder of Black people in Buffalo, New York by a shooter who mentioned the “Replacement” conspiracy theory. My emotions are still raw as I write this but I want to acknowledge care for those impacted by this senseless act of violence. As a child of the Columbine generation, anxieties surrounding these violent events have always been at the forefront of my mind. While I recognize that ideologically based mass shootings are statistically rare, the impetus for these attacks should not be ignored. With the potential of Roe v. Wade being overturned in the next month and cultural division growing by the day, it’s hard to deny that we are living in precarious times.
In the past decade, there have been more than a few in which the attacker alludes to a “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. This theory was first concocted in France nearly a century ago and asserts that the “elites”(which is used interchangeably with Jewish people) plot to replace White ethnic Europeans with politically compliant migrants. Any logical person digging deeper into this theory would realize it does not go much deeper than that. It would be easy to write it off as a fringe thing if it weren’t for the fact that nearly 1/3rd of Americans supposedly believe in it.
Outside of clear mentioning of racist intentions, many other mass shootings and acts of violence have been carried out by attackers who self-identify as incels. A man killing women because he can’t get laid and another killing Black/Jewish/Latino/Asian people out of fears of “replacement” may not seem related. However, they are one and the same.
Mass shootings, the slated overturning of Roe v Wade and the cultural chaos that we’ve all been experiencing for the past decade or so is the swan song of White men. I acknowledge that there is a substantial amount of white women, Black men, and perhaps other groups that have also adopted elements of this panic. However, for the sake of simplicity, I will focus on how these issues have galvanized mediocre White men into action.
From a utilitarian standpoint, working-class men(regardless of race) have become obsolete. Their woman counterparts have been able to find comfortable employment in retail, the public sector, and other “pink collar” professions. However, men across the board are not doing well. There are a number of factors that influence the disparities that impact men. The unemployment rate for Black men far outnumbers any other group in the country. While White American working-class men still enjoy many privileges of associations to power, they are falling far behind women and new Americans who enjoy upward class mobility.
It is quite apparent now that America is a dying empire. I consider the word ‘dying’ to be subjective considering a large amount of wealth and power is still held by our country. However, as we move to a post-industrialized age, much of our country’s working and middle class dwindle in number by the year. This is no secret. We are constantly reminded of this slow, agonizing death with the widening wealth gap and divisive culture wars. Although globalization has largely emancipated millions of people from poverty, it has had devastating impacts on the Western working class.
There’s evidence that after large global economic recessions, people turn to nationalism. Examples of this: Jim Crow policies, the establishment of KKK, and lynchings after the South loses the Civil War(and its resources). Nazi Germany / The Holocaust after Germany lost World War I and financial desperation. Most recently, the world turned to nationalism after the 2008 Great Recession which is now exacerbated by the current pandemic and another incoming financial crash.
As someone who spent a large part of my youth glued to the internet, I tend to consider myself very tuned into the zeitgeist. I was already well aware of K-pop, cryptocurrencies, and Twitter when I hit 9th grade about a decade ago. I know this sounds hipster of me at best and mildly narcissistic at worse, but I have a knack for recognizing cultural shifts. My keenness for understanding people led me to study social sciences academically. With that being said, The Great Replacement theory is far more insidious than many realize. A good portion of White Americans rarely, if ever, talk to people
I’m technically a social scientist but you could pretty much consider me a layperson. Given that I live in the Bay Area juxtaposed with Midwest roots I reckon I can look at the world pretty fair pulse on reality. I’ve never been one to yell the sky is falling but I have a pretty grim prediction for the Western world in the coming years. The advent of rapid technological advancement has improved the lives of billions. With this rapid change far too many are being left behind. The next few years may be tough, culturally. We are on the brink of another economic crash. Many young men are no longer able to provide for themselves let alone a woman or a family, which is considered the hallmark of masculinity in our society. Inequality is at an all-time high and these young people are understandably angry. Instead of strategizing around a common enemy, bad actors play up existing tensions to gain power. While White men still hold a substantial amount of power in our country, the working class ones are steadily losing the little they had. They are dying and they will insist on taking our nation with them.