Thursday, May 05, 2022

A Quick Clarification on "Replace" (as in "Jews Will Not ...")

Apropos of nothing in particular, I thought it was worth noting an easily-overlooked elision that sometimes makes the antisemitic chant "Jews will not replace us" more opaque than it need be. 

Some hear the chant "Jews will not replace us" and, in addition to being appalled, are perplexed. How could Jews "replace" White people when there are so few of us?

The issue comes from an ambiguity in the term "replace". Imagine you're at a baseball game, and you hear the sentence "Smith replaced Jones on the pitcher's mound." That sentence could mean one of two things:

  1. Smith could be the relief pitcher; the person who takes Jones' place upon the latter leaving the game.
  2. Smith could be the manager; the person who made the call to remove Jones from the game.
In the context of "Jews will not replace us", I think the latter meaning is far more likely to be operative. Jews are posited to be the power-behind-the-scenes that is making the decision to "replace" White people. This, of course, does not require any particular numerical supremacy, and it fits well with general White Supremacist tropes that obsess about Jewish hyperpower and shadowy control. It merges, in turn, with paranoia about racial minority groups (particularly immigrants), who in the antisemitic imagination are being brought to America by Jews in order to replace White people (so the immigrants are the "replacers" in the first sense of the word). Fitted together thus, the chant "works" -- or works, at any rate, within the warped and hateful confines of the White supremacist imagination.

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