Democrats can celebrate the migrants pouring into America as a hopeful new generation, but the moment a Republican suggests his political opponents see illegal immigrants as a potential new voting bloc, he’s a racist conspiracy theorist.
Just ask the Southern Poverty Law Center, which acknowledged Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., winning election to become speaker of the House by attacking what it called “hate groups” that celebrated his elevation. Toward the top of this screed, the SPLC slammed the new speaker’s “xenophobic rhetoric and policies” and faulted Johnson for echoing a “racist conspiracy theory.”
The “hate group” attack comes as no surprise.
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC weaponized its track record of suing the Ku Klux Klan into bankruptcy by branding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups” and putting them on a “hate map” alongside Klan chapters. A former employee called the hate accusations a “highly profitable scam,” and the “hate map” inspired a 2012 terrorist attack at a Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C.
The SPLC has used its “hate group” accusation to smear conservatives and Republicans while turning a blind eye to extremists such as Antifa on the Left.
Yet the claims about Johnson echoing a “racist conspiracy theory” mark a new line of attack against the new speaker—and they are so baseless, one need read nothing besides the SPLC’s own claims to debunk them.
“Some of Johnson’s statements on immigration mimic ‘great replacement’-style rhetoric,” the SPLC claims. “The ‘great replacement’ is a false and racist conspiracy theory purporting that white people are being intentionally displaced by ‘elites’ and replaced by immigrant people of color.”
Elsewhere, the SPLC specifies that this conspiracy theory often faults the Jews as being the “elites” responsible.
How has Johnson supposedly propped up this conspiracy theory?
“Johnson has repeatedly accused Democrats of encouraging immigration to secure a supportive voting base,” the SPLC breathlessly intones.
You see, the Louisiana Republican dared criticize President Joe Biden’s lax border enforcement during a July 2021 appearance on Fox News.
The ostensibly damning quote?
‘Why in the world would any elected official in this country go along with this terrible policy? This dangerous set of policies that they’re engaging in? You’re always drawn to that ultimate conclusion: They want to turn these people into voters,’ Johnson said.
Yet the SPLC has more evidence, dear reader.
Johnson repeated a similar argument during a July 2022 episode of his podcast ‘Truth Be Told,’ which Johnson hosts with his wife, Kelly. He described the Democrats’ ‘ultimate objective’ as being ‘to turn illegal aliens into Democrat voters.’ In a hearing later that same month with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Johnson said, ‘We have a literal invasion of lawless masses flooding over our border from more than 160 countries.’
Nowhere in these quotes does Johnson mention the illegal immigrants’ races. Nowhere does he suggest that a cabal of “elites” or Jews has orchestrated a replacement of “white people.” The only “replacement” he seems to worry about is a potential replacement of voters, the ultimate sovereign in America’s constitutional government.
Perhaps in an effort to distract from the paucity of its evidence, the SPLC rushes to explain the “great replacement” conspiracy theory in great detail.
Racial justice and civil rights organizations have been clear in their concern over politicians who spread this false conspiracy. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) wrote in their ‘From Scarcity to Solidarity’ guide that the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory takes for granted two racist assumptions based in a scarcity mentality: 1) that the United States should be run by white people and 2) that white people must be in a numerical majority to thrive. The guide states that this assumption ‘does not hold space for white people – for white Christians – to have shared belonging and democratic participation with people of other races or religions.’
Vanessa Cardenas, the executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, told reporters in August, ‘When elected officials amplify dangerous rhetoric like the white nationalist invasion and replacement conspiracy theories, they create a climate that fosters political violence.’
Perhaps some white nationalists are incensed that many immigrants have a different skin tone than your average Scandinavian or that illegal immigrants threaten the idea of a “white ethnostate.” If Mike Johnson had ever once mentioned such concerns, the SPLC would surely have trumpeted that fact from the rooftops.
As it stands, only the SPLC and its sources once mentioned the word “white.” Johnson’s concern appears to have nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with U.S. sovereignty and law. He described the “masses” not as “brown” or “black” but as “lawless.”
Johnson wasn’t echoing a racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory; he was wondering about the motives of Democrats who seem not to care a whit about the fact that more than 3.2 million people tried to enter the U.S. illegally in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The United States has a legal immigration system that allows America to vet immigrants before they come into the country. These millions of illegal immigrants are bypassing that system entirely, and some of them have been on the terror watchlist.
Johnson has suggested that Democrats favor open borders because they view these migrants as a potential new voting bloc. While some of these migrants pose a risk to the country, their raw numbers make them a political asset, this logic goes.
If Democrats secretly favor open borders for this reason, the migrants’ skin color has nothing to do with it. It doesn’t matter whether migrants are Anglo-Saxon, Maori, Swedish, Moroccan, Syrian, Indian, or Afghan. Every 18-year-old who can get into the system represents a potential voter, and unrestrained immigration might be able to resurrect the dream of the “Emerging Democratic Majority.”
The real question isn’t “Why is Mike Johnson skeptical of Democratic motives here?” but rather, “Why is the SPLC so invested in demonizing this suggestion?”
Perhaps the question answers itself.
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