Donate now!

US politics Guess who said it: Tucker Carlson or a far-right shooter

The Fox New host’s nightly diatribes are making the US an ever more terrifying place for immigrants and people of color

It’s not surprising Tucker Carlson doesn’t think white supremacy is a threat to the United States. It’s easy not to notice a problem when the problem is you. Speaking on his show, Carlson called widespread racism a “hoax” and said: “Just like the Russia hoax, it’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.” Carlson encouragedviewers not to think about racism, saying that “every minute you’re angry about race is a minute you’re not thinking about class, which is of course the real divide in this country”.

If I were Tucker Carlson, I wouldn’t want people to think about racism either. If they did, they might start to notice that Carlson’s rhetoric about non-white people has long been virtually identical to that of white supremacist terrorists in New Zealand and El Paso. Here, for example, is a passage from Carlson’s most recent book, on the topic of why “diversity” makes us weaker:

When confronted or pressed for details, [proponents of diversity] retreat into a familiar platitude, which they repeat like a zen koan: diversity is our strength. But is diversity our strength? The less we have in common, the stronger we are? Is that true of families? Is it true in neighborhoods or businesses? Of course not. Then why is it true of America? Nobody knows. Nobody’s even allowed to ask the question.

And here is an excerpt from the manifesto issued by the man who killed 51 peoplein a New Zealand mosque:

Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength? Does anyone even ask why? It is spoken like a mantra and repeated ad infinitum … But no one ever seems to give a reason why. What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength? What part of diversity causes this increase in strength? No one can give an answer.

Likewise, the El Paso killer spoke of the need to combat Hispanic “invasion” of Texas. (Not realizing, apparently, that “El Paso” has been Hispanic since the 1500s. Next the white nationalists will be complaining about people speaking Spanish in Los Angeles or New Mexico.) The same “invasion” rhetoriccomes out ofCarlson’s mouth on his show, where he spreadsphony crime statisticsdesigned to terrify people about immigrant populations.

Carlson has made it clear that he thinks having more members of non-white racial groups is bad. In his book he writes:

Thanks to mass immigration, America has experienced greater demographic change in the last few decades than any other country in history has undergone during peacetime. If you grew up in America, suddenly nothing looks the same. Your neighbors are different. So is the landscape and the customs and very often the languages you hear on the street. You may not recognize your own hometown. Human beings aren’t wired for that. [W]e are told these changes are entirely good. We must celebrate the fact that a nation that was overwhelmingly European, Christian, and English-speaking fifty years ago has become a place with no ethnic majority, immense religious pluralism, and no universally shared culture or language.

Most conservatives don’t dare speak overtly about the need to maintain a white “ethnic majority”. Carlson is different. He wants to make sure the country “looks the same”, meaning that it doesn’t have too many brown people in it. After all, “human beings aren’t wired for that”. It’s talking points like these, which directly echo Richard Spencer’s call for a white ethno-state, that make Carlson the darling of neo-Nazis. The Daily Stormer has called him“literally our greatest ally” and David Duke has said: “God bless Tucker Carlson.”

Carlson has developed a dangerous ideological brew that combines economic populism with white nationalism. (A kind of “national socialism”, if you will.) Notice that in his original comments, he talks about the need to focus on “class”.

He comments that “workers of all races” have more in common with each other than they do with the rich, and believes talk of white supremacy is designed to keep them from getting “unauthorized ideas about economics”. In fact, on economic issues Carlson often sounds very close to Berne Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, condemning giant predatory companies like Amazon and skewering free-market dogma.

Of course, as a leftist, I think Carlson is right about that part, and when he says that workers have more in common with each other than with the boss, he could be quoting a pamphlet from the Wobblies. But that’s precisely why his anti-immigrant material is so wrong and toxic.

The solution to class inequality is for workers to band together. Yet Carlson speaks of an “invasion” in which poor Hispanics are coming for the jobs of slightly-less-poor whites, who must preserve their “ethnic majority”. He says that it’s the “elites” who want to divide the working class, then tells people to be scared of their Muslim neighbors. If class is “the real divide in this country” then why is he also claiming that “diversity” is tearing us apart?

Carlson may not even notice what he is doing, or realize that he has a “white nationalist” viewpoint. That’s, in part, because he accepts the definition of racism as “racial hatred”. Instead, we should define it as valuing people of different races differently, and accepting a racial hierarchy of wealth and power as natural. If you care about what happens to white auto workers, but don’t care about what happens to Guatemalans or Somalis, that’s racism.

Carlson thinks about the experience of the white person with an immigrant neighbor, but not about that of the immigrant neighbor. Carlson believes that white supremacy isn’t a problem because “The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium.” It’s true that outright neo-Nazi groups are fringe. But if racial “hatred” is marginal, acceptance of racial hierarchy is ubiquitous. And the people who believe in that don’t need neo-Nazi groups, because they’ve got Fox News.

We should hesitate to directly blame particular killings on the media. After all, an unstable person can pick up bad ideas from anywhere. But when people like Carlson say that diversity is destabilizing the country, and there is an active invasion that will wipe out “our” people’s culture, they make armed attacks sound rationally justified. Even on the assumption that violent white supremacy remains marginal for the moment, the more Carlson persuades people of his anti-immigrant talking points, the more people may be tempted to reach for a gun to “solve the problem” themselves.

I, too, wish we could focus on economic divides, but we can’t so long as Carlson’s nightly diatribes are making the United States an ever more terrifying place for immigrants and people of color.

Nathan Robinson

The Guardian