Groups of white nationalists converged on Charlottesville this past weekend. The slew of Nazi flags and calls and salutes merged with American and Confederate flags. They chanted a range of slogans, among them “We Will Not Be Replaced.” Yes, you will. Being replaced is the nature of the world. Parents are replaced by their children. The horse and buggy were replaced by cars. Leaded gasoline was replaced by unleaded. Artificial Intelligence is poised to replace us all. This is the nature of the world. Some industries survive, but most go away in time to be replaced by something else. My father’s business printed business forms. They shipped their family business all the way from Nazi Germany. Who prints business forms anymore? There are a few businesses I’m sure, but for the most part, home printers have replaced industrial ones. Email has even replaced the household printer for many.
You can claim lay the blame for your dying industries at the feet of the immigrants or the elites or you can do as your ancestors did and move somewhere else and find another industry as many did after the Dust Bowl. This is what immigrants are doing – finding opportunities elsewhere when none exist nearby. Of course this is difficult and agonizing. But blaming others for searching for opportunities is just not helpful. You can blame your parents for your faults all you want but it won’t help you fix them. What will help is finding strategies and solutions to use in the moment, not wallowing in anger at a past that can’t be changed. The doors to immigration were opened with colonization. We can’t undo that. It’s a done deal.
White America has much to be proud of. We’ve made automobiles, medicines, spaceships and more. But we screwed up too. Slavery, Native American indoctrination schools, Japanese Internment camps are a few of our less proud legacies. Eventually we will be replaced, just like the Roman empire and the Ottoman empire and the British empire. The world is moving toward greater equality. With the advent of technology and the internet it is all too obvious that the wealth of one nation is the poverty of others. To a large degree, White America’s language has forged the way: “All men are created equal.” It didn’t used to be that way. Royalty was placed above all others. Not anymore. Perhaps that is our lasting contribution to the world. While the Romans paved literal roads, we paved metaphorical ones. We have paved the way for all beings to be treated with equality and fairness. Can we all get behind that?