The great replacement can generally be understood as two core beliefs. The first is that “western” identity is under siege by massive waves of immigration from non-European/non-white countries, resulting in a replacement of white European individuals via demographics. The second is that replacement has been orchestrated by a shadowy group as part of their grand plan to rule the world – which they will do by creating a completely racially homogenous society. This group is often overtly identified as being Jews, but sometimes the antisemitism is more implicit…

The white supremacist Renard Camus introduced the term in his book De l’Innocence, warning of the replacement of white Europeans by peoples coming from the Middle East and North Africa. This is the text that influences much of the white supremacist discourse that we see today, and fuels the growing “identitarian” movement around the world. Identitarians advocate for an ethnically and racially heterogeneous world; they believe that racial mixing (ie sex and reproduction between people of different races) weakens the fabric of our society and is an imminent threat to the stability of majority-white, western nations – as well as the world.

This idea is echoed by the El Paso shooter, who writes that he is “against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems … Cultural diversity diminishes as stronger and/or more appealing cultures overtake weaker and/or desirable ones.” You may have heard about identitarians protesting against Muslim immigration in Berlin, or forcibly blocking asylum-seekers from disembarking from their boats in the Mediterranean. Identitarians point to the great replacement as both a direct threat and a key motivator.