In recent years, American culture has seen an explosion of conspiracy theories and outright deceptions becoming more mainstream. None has more devastating implications than the “Great Replacement” conspiracy.

In recent years, American culture has seen an explosion of conspiracy theories and outright deceptions becoming more mainstream. None has more devastating implications than the “Great Replacement” conspiracy. So what is the “Great Replacement?” Why is it so dangerous? And how will this conspiracy be on Ohio’s November 2022 ballot? Let me explain.

First, the Great Replacement conspiracy is a relatively new version of a conspiracy that has roots going back to the founding of America. In a nutshell, this conspiracy states that immigration policies, particularly those impacting non-white, non-European immigrants, are designed to increase the non-white, non-European population in an effort to undermine (or replace) the political and cultural power of America’s white majority. Unfortunately, xenophobic political parties are nothing new in the United States, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push back against them. We’ve seen how dangerous these ideologies and conspiracies can be if they infect the minds of the unstable and impressionable. Worse yet, the rhetoric commonly used by Great Replacement supporters centers on defending America from an “invasion” of immigrants looking to “take over.” This framing produces the depraved mindset that mass murder is necessary to “save America.” 

For instance:   

In 2017, the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally was a hate-filled demonstration comprised of white supremacists, anti-Semitics, and neo-Nazi sympathizers marching through the streets chanting: “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.” Later on, a man would drive a car through a crowd of counter-protestors, killing an innocent woman.

At a Walmart in El Paso, Texas in 2019, a gunman entered the store and brutally murdered twenty three shoppers. Minutes before the shooting started, the gunmen posted a manifesto online identifying the Great Replacement as the reason for his murderous tirade.

Recently in Buffalo New York, a teenage gunman entered a grocery store in a predominately Black neighborhood and murdered thirteen people. Like in El Paso, prior to committing his mass murder, the gunmen posted a 180-page document online embracing the racist dogma of white Americans being under attack, and stating that his actions were necessary to “protect and serve my community, my people, my culture, and my race.”
These are extreme examples of the dangers of the Great Replacement conspiracy, but there are also more subtle ways this fringe philosophy can manifest itself. Here in Ohio, we are seeing one of those more subtle examples:

Last month, the Ohio General Assembly swiftly passed a joint resolution to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot declaring that only US citizens have the right to vote in Ohio elections. Now you may be thinking that is already the law – and you’d be right. But that didn’t stop state lawmakers from proposing this amendment anyway. During committee testimony on House Joint Resolution 4, one Ohio lawmaker asked a telling question to  the resolution’s sponsors. The question was:

 “Why in the world would any Ohioan, and I don’t know the answer… why would any Ohioan want someone that is not registered…. er, why would we want these people to vote? I mean I think I know why, but why?”

 “I think I know why.” If that’s not a dog whistle tacitly endorsing the Great Replacement conspiracy, then I don’t know what is. 

This non-controversy started because the Village of Yellow Springs passed a municipal charter amendment in 2020 that would extend voting rights to non-citizens for local elections only. Immediately following the passage of the charter amendment, Secretary of State Frank LaRose instructed the Greene County Board of Elections to reject the proposal because allowing non-citizens the right to vote is against state law. The leadership of Yellow Springs backed off, and the charter amendment has not been implemented.

So, Ohioans will be forced to vote this November on whether or not we should be afraid of Black and Brown voters, and suspicious of any voter we see exercise their constitutional right who doesn’t have Anglican heritage. It’s a dangerous and deceitful way to govern. Our lawmakers already know that non-citizens cannot vote in Ohio, but they will go ahead and put trash like this on the ballot anyway in hope of capitalizing on an under belly of fear and anti-immigration resentment for political gain.