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In the news coverage of white supremacist marches and demonstrations, you may have heard the slogan “You will not replace us!” and wondered what it meant. Me, too – so I decided to find out.
I did learn the origin of the phrase, but I regretted my decision to explore its meaning almost immediately, because it took me down a dark hole of ugly, xenophobic nationalism and led me to confront the concepts behind its most destructive tendencies.
The vile slogan “You will not replace us”, it turns out, comes from a White supremacist conspiracy theory called the “Great Replacement.” The theory has taken many different forms in Europe, Canada, and the United States, but usually follows the same general pattern: it insists that a conspiracy exists to replace native-born European-Americans (or people from various European countries) with non-White “outsiders,” and therefore gradually “take over” the country when those “foreigners” have children who become citizens and voters.
In other words, the so-called “Great Replacement” theory – which various neo-Nazi and extremist groups have also labelled “White genocide” or “genocide by substitution” – maintains that non-European peoples will gradually replace Whites as a result of higher birthrates and mass immigration to formerly majority-White countries.
If that specious theory sounds familiar, then you probably know something about the race-based values of the early 20th century eugenicists, or the vicious ideology of the Third Reich.
“National Identity” or Human Identity?
At its most basic, the Great Replacement ideology presumes that “national identity” trumps our inborn identity as human beings.
But as we’ve all learned during the past few centuries, your nationality can change, whether through war, shifting borders, or migration to another country. National identity is fungible. We may think of ourselves as citizens of one nation today, and permanently relocate, whether voluntarily or not, to another nation tomorrow. Your nation may break up into smaller countries, like Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union or Sudan did, or it might simply cease to exist, the same way South Vietnam did when North Vietnam took over and united both countries.
Also, because of advances in transportation, technology, and mass media, many of the world’s people can now figure out where to best live, and simply go there.
However, way beyond nationality we claim, we’re all human beings.
That core identity never changes, regardless of where we were born. Our essential humanity is an inborn trait common to all of us, while national identity is socially constructed. The Great Replacement theory is based on the idea that our nationality and our racial inheritance is somehow more important than our shared humanity. The Baha’i teachings directly challenge that assumption.
So in this set of essays, we’ll examine the Great Replacement theory, check to see if it has any actual validity, and contrast it with this polar opposite principle from Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
The Baha’i Principle of Human Oneness
The theme of the oneness of humanity creates a common thread throughout the entire body of the Baha’i sacred writings, and represents the central principle of the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah wrote that all of the major Faiths and their messengers teach that “spirit of oneness:”
The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. …
In this day, Baha’u’llah taught, humankind’s hopes for well-being, peace, and security can only be met by its unification:
The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. …
Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. … So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.
When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person, whether he be of your family or of another. Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, colour or shade of political opinion. Heaven will support you while you work in this in-gathering of the scattered peoples of the world beneath the shadow of the almighty tent of unity.
You will be servants of God, who are dwelling near to Him, His divine helpers in the service, ministering to all Humanity. All Humanity! Every human being! Never forget this!
Do not say, he is an Italian, or a Frenchman, or an American, or an Englishman, remember only that he is a son of God, a servant of the Most High, a man! All are men! Forget nationalities; all are equal in the sight of God!
Baha’is, then, believe in and advocate not only the oneness of humanity but also the unification of the world’s countries into a single global unit.