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Tucker Carlson speaks during the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) Feszt on August 7, 2021 in Esztergom, Hungary. (Photo: Janos Kummer/Getty Images)

Tucker Carlson's 'Great Replacement' Theory Comes From an Anti-US Nazi French Thinker

People like Tucker Carlson are pitifully ignorant of history and so are wielding an anti-American, highly unpatriotic notion for the sake of their television ratings.

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

A hate-filled 18-year-old murdered 10 and wounded 3 African-Americans in Buffalo on Saturday, having penned a rambling screed about replacement theory. The most common version of this whiny idea, imported from the more hysterical fringes of the French Right wing, holds that Jewish capitalists are importing cheap immigrant labor to replace more highly-paid white workers. Notoriously, the Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 against the removal of Confederate statues chanted "Jews will not replace us."

These useful idiots of the far right are symbolically still deployed around Hitler's bunker, defending it from the approaching Allies.

The shooter who killed 11 Jewish Americans at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 espoused the idea of the "great replacement."

The hateful ideology is shamelessly promoted by Fox Cable News, the CEO of which is Lachlan Murdoch, with the worst offender being the Lord Haw-Haw of the twenty-first century, Tucker Carlson, who exposed his audience to the great replacement excrement 400 times in the past year.

Republican legislators across the US have been putting in laws against the teaching of critical race theory, which helps us understand the hold and the effect of ideas like the great replacement, and which hasn't killed anyone. They don't seem to be as eager to legislate against Nazi ideas. (It is a Nazi idea.)

The racist notion of the "great replacement" originated in Europe and had many exponents of various stripes. Contrary to what is sometimes alleged, however, the phrase itself was not coined by Maurice Barres in early twentieth-century France, though he certainly believed in the ideas behind it.

The phrase, and the most extensive elaboration of the theory, originated with the French Nazi Rene Binet (1913-1957), who served during WW II in The Waffen Grenadier Brigade of the SS Charlemagne, which consisted of French collaborators. You don't get more fascist than that– the Charlemagne Brigade were the last troops to defend Hitler's bunker before his suicide, and staged a failed, desperate fight against the Soviet army's advance into Berlin.

Binet fulminated after the war against "the invasion of Europe by Negroes and Mongols," by which he meant Americans and Soviets. He saw Americans as an impure mestizo "race" (he was a biological racist). He also launched diatribes against unbridled capitalism and the ways in which Jews were using it to abet the replacement of civilized white Europeans.

So this supposedly far right American nationalist idea actually originated in hatred for Americans and a denigration of their supposed "whiteness" by the European Right, which did not see Russians as "white" either.

It is worth noting that unlike cowardly boot-lickers like Benet, the true patriots were the multi-cultural French. The French Army and then De Gaulle's Free French Army included thousands of riflemen (Tirailleurs) from Senegal. HIstory.net explains: "During World War II the French recruited 179,000 Tirailleurs; some 40,000 were deployed to Western Europe. Many were sent to bolster the French Maginot Line along its border with Germany and Belgium during the German invasion in 1940—where many were killed or taken prisoner. After the fall of France, others served in the Free French army in Tunisia, Corsica, and Italy, and in the south of France during the liberation."

I had two uncles who served in WW II, one at the Battle of the Bulge. In my family, we are not in any doubt that it was the Allies who were the good guys. And, yes, the Allies were multi-racial. They included the Tuskegee Airmen, who bombed Nazi targets, The Allies were the diverse American rainbow, and it was their diversity that gave them the strength to prevail.

People like Tucker Carlson are pitifully ignorant of history and so are wielding an anti-American, highly unpatriotic notion for the sake of their television ratings. Ironically, Tucker's intellectual forebear, Binet, would have considered him a mongrel "Negro." As defenders of illiberalism and implicitly of hatred of Jews, these useful idiots of the far right are symbolically still deployed around Hitler's bunker, defending it from the approaching Allies.


© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

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