The May 17 editorial (“Our View: Great Replacement lie runs deep in GOP,” Page A4) appropriately calls on Republican leaders to condemn racial violence and correctly notes that many in the Republican Party will sadly remain silent or, worse, continue to fan anti-immigrant fears.

Migrants in Mission, Texas, just over the Mexican border, are part of a surge of illegal crossings that a recent Press Herald editorial disregarded, a reader says. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via TNS

But you’ve missed an opportunity to thoughtfully address a complex issue. You went awry by failing to distinguish between a false conspiracy theory and legitimate concerns that the country is growing more diverse and that we Democrats welcome that change.

The numeric 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 Oct. 22 that the prior 12 months saw the highest number of illegal crossings of the southern border “since at least 1960.” And rather than showing a reversal in the decline of America’s white population, the U.S. census documents the percentage of white American residents declined from 88 percent in 1900 to 62 percent in 2020, with the largest single decline occurring in the most recent census. The population of white residents dropped from 72.4 to 61.6 percent between 2010 and 2020.  Those aren’t “lies”; they’re facts.

We Democrats tend to favor diversity, and we have not generally advocated for enforcement of immigration laws. We can and should make strong arguments for liberalized immigration laws, for welcoming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, for recognizing that most immigrants seek to work hard and help reinvigorate the great American experiment. But when we disregard laws on the books and dismiss our rural neighbors’ concerns with false claims that they are “lying,” we feed into the sense that we disregard, scorn and disrespect heartland, rural communities – and the law.

We need thoughtful leadership addressing difficult questions: Should our immigration laws be liberalized? How should they be enforced? What are the blessings of diversity? How do we respect both rural, anxious American communities and those fleeing deprivation for this land of opportunity? How do we coax our fellow man toward empathy across racial, ethnic, religious and cultural divisions?

Thoughtful discussion of those vital questions is unlikely if we dismiss genuine concerns by falsely claiming they are founded on “lies.”

Ed MacColl
Cape Elizabeth

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: