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What is the great replacement theory?

Rachel Carroll Rivas, lead senior research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center, explains the false white supremacist theory of replacement. #newdaynw

SEATTLE — In his online manifesto, the alleged Buffalo mass shooter repeatedly cited the false "great replacement theory," which suggests that Jewish elites are bringing people of color into the United States to replace white people.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, a lead senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined New Day to explain the theory and why people are buying into it.

Carroll Rivas said that the theory states that nefarious actors are manipulating the country's demographics in hopes of gaining political power.

“It is a false idea,” she said.

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This theory is not exactly a fringe idea either. Carroll Rivas explained that it’s continuing to be spread by people in leadership positions, politicians, media pundits and the like. They might not even be aware of the danger and harm that these ideas can cause, she said.

“It seems like from what we know that this accused perpetrator is someone who really was bombarded with this message in many, many ways, particularly online, and then acted on it,” she said.

When hearing about these acts of violence, the perpetrators are often coined as “lone wolves," and while they may have acted alone, Carroll Rivas said that takes the blame off of people who are continuing to contribute to this idea of great replacement.

“So we actually try to kind of move away from that term, because it takes the blame off of the fact that there were people pushing this out there,” she said. “And this case, you know, it does look like the case perpetrator was in a lot of online spaces, regular spaces that people engage in.”

The question remains: How do we put a stop to this?

Carroll Rivas said that the first thing we need to do is talk about our history as a country because learning about our past is how we grow.

She also encouraged working together. 

"So we have to both you know, talk about the falsity and what we hear, but also offer powerful ideas," Carroll Rivas said. "Because I actually think we all want to be able to thrive together."

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Segment Producer Rebecca Perry. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.

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