Letter to the Editor: ‘Great Replacement’ Editorial Fails to Address Legitimate Concerns

The May 17 op-ed (“Our View: The Great Replacement Lie Runs Deep in the GOP,” page A4) rightly calls on Republican leaders to condemn racial violence and rightly notes that many members of the Republican Party will unfortunately remain silent or, worse, will continue to fan anti-immigrant fears.

The migrants in Mission, Texas, just across the border from Mexico, are part of a wave of illegal crossings that a recent Press Herald editorial ignored, according to a reader. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via TNS

But you missed an opportunity to thoughtfully address a complex issue. You did the wrong thing by failing to distinguish between a false conspiracy theory and legitimate concerns that the country is diversifying and that we Democrats welcome that change.

The numerical decline of America’s white majority is a reality. Your example of a supposed “lie” is that the decennial census reports immigration at its lowest level in decades. European immigration may have declined, but The New York Times reported last October 22 that the previous 12 months had seen the highest number of illegal southern border crossings “since at least 1960”. And rather than showing a reversal of the decline in the white American population, the US census documents that the percentage of white American residents fell from 88% in 1900 to 62% in 2020, with the largest single decline occurring during the most recent census. The population of white residents grew from 72.4 to 61.6 percent between 2010 and 2020. These are not “lies”; these are facts.

We Democrats tend to favor diversity and have generally not advocated for immigration enforcement. We can and must make a strong case for liberalizing immigration laws, for welcoming the weary, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe freely, for recognizing that most immigrants seek to work hard and help invigorate the great American experiment. But when we disregard the laws on the books and dismiss the concerns of our rural neighbors with false claims that they are “lying”, we fuel feelings of contempt, contempt and disrespect at the heart of rural communities – and the law.

We need thoughtful leadership to answer tough questions: Should our immigration laws be liberalized? How should they be applied? What are the benefits of diversity? How do we respect both rural and anxious American communities and those who flee hardship for this land of opportunity? How do we coax our fellow man into empathy across racial, ethnic, religious and cultural divides?

Thoughtful discussion of these vital issues is unlikely if we dismiss the real concerns by falsely claiming they are based on “lies”.

Ed MacColl
Cape Elizabeth

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James C. Tibbs