Replacing Americans by killing Americans.

That doesn’t make much sense to me and to most people in this country. But there are a few who believe in this crazy replacement theory that continues to breed radicalized, un-American acolytes who think it is OK to kill innocent people across this country.

It is hard to dismiss the irony of President Joe Biden standing between the president of Finland and the prime minister of Sweden this past week as he welcomed their request for admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The two, long-neutral European democracies have recently decided that the world and their own people will be better off and much safer as part of the 73 year-old mutual defense pact that grew out of the ravages of World War ll. And, from all appearances, NATO will soon welcome Sweden and Finland as equal partners in an effort to further solidify efforts toward a more peaceful world.

Meanwhile, here at home in the United States of America — the nearly 250-year old democracy to which all other countries look for guidance, support, example and encouragement — we see murder after murder of innocent people ( Buffalo comes immediately to mind) because our political leadership, unlike that of Sweden and Finland, can’t see their way clear to promote peace and condemn violence.

Correction … some of our political leadership.

There is an old children’s song about thigh bones connected to back bones and back bones connected to the head bone, etc, etc. The meaning is clear. The body works best because everything is connected, one to the other. It doesn’t work when there is a break or dislocation.

America is dislocated. Americans are breaking from each other and our democracy — as fragile today as it has ever been — hangs in the balance.

It has never been OK for political or civic or religious leadership to rationalize unpatriotic behavior by those who take up arms against their innocent fellow citizens, who threaten them with AR-15’s and who kill them indiscriminately for no good reason. Or any reason at all.

And, yet, here we are. No one less than a former president of the United States told every would-be killer that there were good people on “both sides” of a Nazi march in which participants chanted that “Jews will not replace us.”

Is it so hard to imagine that the 18-year old Buffalo killer, who was barely a teenager when the former president approved of the Nazis who marched for hate in Charlottesville, Va., chartered his murderous course at that time? And, if not him, what about so many others who share their sick and deranged rants in chat rooms on social media across this country? Can you honestly believe there is no connection between hateful rhetoric and hurtful actions?

It must no longer be OK to give our political leaders — whoever they are — a pass for their supportive rhetoric or passive encouragement of this sickness that pervades our democracy.

Their words of approval or worse, failure to disapprove, gives the vulnerable in society the air they need to breathe life into their crazy conspiracy theories and the inexorable desire of some to act upon them.

There are people in both political parties who have found ways to raise money with their violent rhetoric and tacit approval of the violence of others. This has to stop.

It falls to the voters — white ones, Black ones, brown ones, yellow ones and every other color of the rainbow — Americans all, to vote against anyone who gives aid and comfort to the enemies of our democracy.

Whether it is the Big Lie about the 2020 election or the conspiracy theories about Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ or others, we have a choice.

We can either support those who want to divide us for their own personal gain or vote against them in a united stand against this unprecedented attack on American democracy.

Just like the members of NATO who commit to each other to come to their aid in case of an attack on any one of them, so too must Americans commit to mutually defend our democracy against these attacks from within.

Listen to what those who want your vote say about the haters and the Big Liars. More to the point, listen to what they don’t say about them when they should “just say no!”

Then act as if your life and your country depend upon it. Because no one I know wants to be replaced by the ugliness lurking just outside the front door.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.

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