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On Tucker Carlson and Sycophants

“Regardless of whether President Trump succeeds in his bid for re-election to the White House, those who think and speak like Carlson will likely suffer no retribution for throwing red meat to his base.”

Author’s Note: This piece is best read as a reply, side-by-side with Jim Proser’s recent article “The Singular Courage of Tucker Carlson.”

The United States has always been a country where merely existing has been physically dangerous and often socially and professionally suicidal for African-Americans, despite what grandiose proclamations about Constitutionally-enshrined rights may otherwise suggest. Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old black man, was stabbed in the back with a two-foot long Roman-style short sword nine blocks from Times Square on March 20, 2017  “simply because he was black.” According to a Washington Post story about his death, Caughman collected “cans from the trash to pay for trips to Washington, where he enjoyed attending congressional hearings.” The profile continues: “Standing on line waiting to vote,” he wrote under a selfie he tweeted on Election Day, ‘I love America.'”

Caughman was the target of white supremacist Harris Jackson. In high school, “Jackson belonged to a small group of more conservative students who stood out” on the campus of a liberal school. “One year, Harris’s friends proposed creating a White Students Union…There was every other kind of union at [the school], but there was no white union.”

Jackson was correct. There tend not to be White Unions because of the historical preference for white confederacy, a fact ignored by conservative media outlets as they stoke white grievance, misdirecting conservative Caucasians into blaming immigrants and minorities for their woes.

In the unscrupulous style of character assassination synonymous with Fox News, false outrage was continuously stoked during President Barack Obama’s historic eight-year presidency for everything from his wearing of a tan suit to his use of Dijon mustard. In the typical “big lie” style of right-wing journalism, Fox News also repeatedly gave then-private citizen Donald Trump a platform from which to propagate birther conspiracies. In a rare reprimand to an internal culture that encourages perpetual outrage, Fox News settled “a group of racial and gender discrimination lawsuits involving 18 current and former employees” for $10 million in 2018. Fox News did not follow suit with outrage when Senator Mitch McConnell wore a tan suit in 2020.

Physical and media attacks against those who seek to improve living conditions for the disenfranchised have always been prevalent as conservative politicians, civic leaders, and celebrities continue to condone the violent, political extremism of right-wing groups. As the United States’ philosophy, history, and culture suffer from a century of anti-communist paranoia and CIA-executed foreign interventions, leading American media personalities such as Tucker Carlson have unsurprisingly been institutionally fortified and handsomely compensated. In contrast to Carlson’s untouchability, his colleagues in Latin America have historically been the targets of American-funded intimidation. As anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of American foreign policy history could tell you:

Cultural revolutions are perceived by the American government as insidious because they seek to change the way people think, write, speak, and act. They are also dangerous because they tend to attract the self-righteous sanctimonious eye of American foreign policy advisors who express their motives in seemingly innocuous terms such as “liberty,” “self-determination,” and “justice”…Iraqis and Venezuelans got poor and killed; Dick Cheney and Chevron got rich. (Murderousness can be outsourced to the military).

They want to silence every prominent voice seeking to build local autonomy on their way to coronating playboy royals like Shah Pahlavi.

On his August 6, 2019 broadcast, Carlson called white supremacy a “conspiracy theory” designed to divide the United States and said it is not a “real problem.” The District Attorney who charged Jackson with hate crime and terrorism, on the other hand, noted: “The coverage of the case was not as extensive or as deep as I thought it would be, given all that was going on in America at time, and it’s outrageousness. Had he come from ISIS and hunted Jews and then killed a Jewish man, I think there would have been much more attention.”

This effort to silence a downtrodden minority by a leading American journalist seems to predate the dinosaurs now dwelling in subsidized coal mines. That the phrase “this is the language of blood politics” can be uttered as a revelation is deeply telling. This is the language of every third-world despot. This is the language used to silence in the name of anti-communism, a hundred uprisings against monarchy, colonialism, and fascism around the world for the last 100 years. In the United States, this has historically been the language of the establishment’s propaganda arm. They want to silence every prominent voice seeking to build local autonomy on their way to coronating playboy royals like Shah Pahlavi.

When I say that doxxing dedicated journalists is the language of blood politics, please consider this piece by the Committee to Protect Journalists, headlined “Journalists covering US white supremacists must weigh risks to selves and families”:

“Michael Edison Hayden was one of the first foreign journalists on the ground after the Nepalese earthquake in 2015—the “ground was still shaking” when he arrived, he said.…But, Hayden said, reporting on the far-right white identity movement in the U.S. has been his most traumatic professional experience.”

Only the newly enlightened think that the phrase ‘The phrase “blood politics” is not a euphemism’ is sufficiently surprising to warrant being placed on a separate line for emphasis.

Hayden, a Newsweek reporter, said “he has become accustomed to anonymous threats—both veiled and explicit—and has weathered a deluge of menacing messages about his family, including an incident in which his parents’ home address was circulated on far-right chat rooms. Late last year, he saw an anonymous post in an online forum urging someone to throw a molotov cocktail through his parents’ window.”

Perhaps threats against journalists should not come as a surprise when right-wing journalists often encourage the far-right. Blake Neff, Tucker Carlson’s top writer recently resigned after revelations of racist and sexist remarks; in one instance, Neff wrote, “Would u let a JET BLACK congo n— do lasik eye surgery on u for 50% off?” Suffice to say such statements are problematic for Carlson, since, according to Neff: “Anything [Carlson’s] reading off the teleprompter, the first draft is written by me.” Neff had “gotten used to what [Carlson] likes and what he thinks about.”

It is no surprise then that plastered posters around Washington, D. C. show Carlson’s face with the indictment: “Block the Alt-Right. Racist with a huge following and platform, uses it to promote racist dogwhistles.” This, of course, is not any defense against Antifa targeting Carlson’s family. But, if a provocateur that can afford private security to maintain a defensive line at his home can feel victimized, then it goes without saying how disenfranchised populations who mind their own business feel when they learn of incidents like police shooting Breonna Taylor eight times in her home as she slept.

In a delicate, miniature snow globe of the gratuitous military force deployed by the United States against civilian populations in neutral countries like Laos, several insured blocks have been damaged by protestors and police. In rhetoric that would seem at home on a Nixon flashcard, this has been attributed to “Marxists, anarchists, socialist Democratic mayors, governors, and a presidential candidate.” The American elephant deep in slumber rustles slightly from this flea bite.

Regardless of whether President Trump succeeds in his bid for re-election to the White House, those who think and speak like Carlson will likely suffer no retribution for throwing red meat to his base. After all, the fires of dissent are effectively snuffed by a paramilitary police force, abduction of peaceful protestors and their leaders in unmarked vans, and the infiltration of city, state, and federal law enforcement by Neo-Nazis. If Americans want to re-build any accurate self-concept of their country, they must examine both the police—and their schools and universities—to undo the damage from generations of right-wing, do-no-wrong, nationalist propaganda.

For those of us who have anything resembling even a prosimian sense of ethics—and are against dog-whistle racism pussyfooting behind First Amendment rights—we should acknowledge the courage of oppressed groups, zealously protect them, and actively, vocally join their lonely voices.

Duluxan Sritharan is a PhD candidate at Harvard University.

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David Cockayne
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David Cockayne

“The United States has always been a country where merely existing has been physically dangerous and often socially and professionally suicidal for African-Americans, despite what grandiose proclamations about Constitutionally-enshrined rights may otherwise suggest.” We could reasonably expect some Pinker like deluge of data to support such a claim but instead we get a set of disconnected anecdotes, vague assertions and aimless meanderings from tan suits to the former Shah of Iran via Dick Cheyney’s wealth and Laos. It’s astonishingly confusing stuff, descending at times into preposterous hyperbole: “In a delicate, miniature snow globe of the gratuitous military force deployed by the United States against civilian populations in neutral countries like Laos, several insured blocks have been damaged by protestors and police.” The suggestion that the treatment of the faux-communards of Portland is comparable to that of the people of Laos in the 1960s-70s, who were subjected to the equivalent of “a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years” – is gtotesque. One might laugh off such poor stuff, were it not for the final paragraph which implies that those on the right lack “even a prosimian sense of ethics”. This kind of casual demhumanisation… Read more »

Duluxan Sritharan
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Duluxan Sritharan

My piece seems to have gone over Mr. Cockayne’s head. This is a symmetric paragraph-by-paragraph response to an op-ed published by Proser (https://merionwest.com/2020/08/05/the-singular-courage-of-tucker-carlson/), as clearly indicated in the prefatory author’s note. I encourage other readers to pull up Proser’s article side-by-side while reading (as also suggested in the preface), so as not to make the same mistake as Mr. Cockayne. Following Carlson’s own style, Proser’s piece cherrypicks isolated sensationalist incidents in the US and conflates the media reaction to them with uprisings around the world, in some of the most muddle-headed thinking I’ve ever encountered. For example, Proser somehow manages to link BLM to Venezuela using propagandist rhetoric straight out of the Cold War. All of this to inspire pity and “defend free speech” for a race-baiting media personality with the largest audience in the history of cable news, during a time of heightened racial tensions. If my response comes off as ‘aimless meandering and disconnected anecdotes’, this is a direct consequence of, and intended reflection on, the original, which is such a piece of scatter-brained toadyism that it is difficult to distinguish from satire. Readers who have no qualms with Proser’s unsolicited op-ed (which takes quite a few liberties),… Read more »