On Thursday, the first segment of Tucker Carlson’s nightly white supremacist rage-fest was a doozy. Carlson—best known for his mediocrity, his thin skin, his rage, and most importantly his intellectual dishonesty—really let the U.S. military have it on … critical race theory. Carlson’s only talent, if it can be called that, is using the same rhetorical parlor trick that the rest of the conservative movement has been employing for decades: articulating every problem facing our country and then saying the answers are the reverse of what reality dictates.
The No. 1 conservative talking point these days is “critical race theory.” The term has been co-opted by the right to mean that liberals want to say white people are all bad, America is all bad, white people should be turned into slaves, and the United States should be turned into Liberia or some kind of reverse 1980s apartheid South Africa. That’s not hyperbole—that’s the basic understanding that the Fox News’ audience viewer has concerning academic discussions of critical thinking on race in America and our country’s history of systemic racism. The Tuckster began his show in a predictable fashion, employing an old debate trick by opening his rant with a rubric we can all agree upon: Racist ideas promoted by batshit racist pro-slavery folks in the 19th century were bad. He then proceeded to explain that critical race theory is the same thing as saying Black Americans are lazy. But more importantly, critical race theory’s end game, according to Carlson, is to “abolish the white race.” I’m just reporting what he spewed on Thursday night.
The Tuckarlatan began by talking about “Drapetomania,” a pseudoscientific theory that Black American slaves kept running away in their struggles for freedom not because slavery was the bloody sin our country built its independence on top of, but because they were suffering from a mania-induced mental illness that lazy and mentally wandering slaves suffered from. This was one of the last-ditch efforts in the 1850s by racist Samuel Cartwright to stop the arc of history from bending towards justice in the Civil War. Why does little Tuck bring this up? Is it because saying it’s bad science and racist is an easy truism to defend? Yes, and also because according to Carlson, it’s identical to the concept of critical race theory.
Are you following? No? Turn your critical thinking off! First, Tucker and his production team showed heavily edited clips of academic Michael Eric Dyson speaking on CNN about critical race theory. Tucker tells his audience that Dyson sounds no different than David Duke when discussing race. The clip begins with a quick edit of Dyson calling MAGA “maggots” and then jump-cuts to him saying: “And we have stood by to listen to mediocre, mealy-mouthed white men, who are incapable of taking critique, who are willing to dole out infamous repudiations of the humanity of the other; and yet they call us snowflakes, and they are the biggest flakes of snow to hit the earth. They are incapable of criticism, they are incapable of tolerating difference, they’re scared of—‘oh my God, critical race theory is going to kill your mother.’ And they don’t even know, they’re not even critical, they have no race, and they don’t understand theory.”
What’s amazing about this is when they cut back to Tucker, he is yelling: “White men, they are the problem! You hear that so often that you don’t pause to consider what a change this is.” Dyson’s explanation of the problem with the right is embodied in Tucker so specifically and Tucker’s abject rejection of the criticism is so acute that I must confess I was worried a black hole might appear as the fabric of space and time ripped apart.
Tucker then goes on to say that while you may be confused at home as to what critical race theory is—a confusion born entirely out of the relentless barrage of misinformation coming from people like Tucker Carlson—that’s okay. That’s okay because it is a theory created by those in power that is “designed to confuse you.” You see? Tucker can’t explain it to you because it isn’t explainable; just know that your kids are being taught in school that white people are “inherently” bad.
Carlson then goes on to deal with the gorilla in the room. Thursday saw news stories and clips of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley ripping apart the right-wing talking points on critical race theory and the need for education on our racist systems and history in front of Congress. He’s a decorated general in the U.S. army. Tucker’s job here is to now discredit Milley. Carlson explains that “race hate” has oozed out of the universities and infected people like Milley. In fact, according to Tucker, Milley didn’t get his job “because he’s brilliant, or because he’s brave, or because the people that know him respect him. He is not. And they definitely don’t.”
Carlson proceeds to say that Milley is “obsequious. He knows who to suck-up to, and he’s more than happy to do it.” As an aside, Tucker using the word “obsequious” followed by the layman definition of what he just said is a perfect example of Carlson. It’s sort of like my way of using big words like calling Carlson a “dirtbag,” followed by me explaining in easier to understand language that Tuckered out is a dirt. Bag.
Then Carlson played some of the clip of Milley talking about the Capitol insurgency and the need to understand the racism and fascistic tendencies of the MAGA crowds that day, and the “white rage” that seems to fuel anti-democracy domestic terrorism. Carlson comes back, almost pink with rage, saying: “What is white rage?” [Pausing writing in order to search for the tear in the fabric of space and time.]
Tucker—doing what makes him not simply full of shit but intellectually dishonest—takes the false rhetorical leap of saying that Milley (who he has stopped referring to as a general at this point) “reads about white rage as if it is real. It’s a medical condition! And by the way, since it’s a medical condition, at what age can you catch white rage?” You see what he’s done? He goes from pretending he’s making a joke, in essence saying all of this critical race theory is like a medical condition, and then saying “since it’s a medical condition.” He’s gone from Milley saying that the fascistic, violent, terroristic tendencies of a group of people—connected by their anger over what they believed to be Black people cheating by voting in our elections—should be studied in order to best defend our democracy against it is identical to saying that Black slaves running away from bondage is a mental illness. He’s changed what was said, taken the term “white rage” and pretended it is being presented as a “medical condition.”
Carlson finishes by saying: “Pundit after senator after professor after general: each one of them spewing race hate. Whiteness, white rage—dressed up as some new academic theory. We certainly have the tape. We’ll spare you, because you’ve seen it, it’s everywhere. The question is, and this is the question that we should meditating on day in and day out, is how do we get out of this vortex, this cycle, before it’s too late? How do we save this country before we become Rwanda?” Rwanda, best known to Fox News audiences as a place where horrible genocide has taken place, is not so much a dog whistle as it is more hate-filled fascistic rhetoric from a racist who has spent hours threatening his audience that our country was turning into every non-European country on the globe at one point or another.
Tucker Carlson is sort of a poor man’s George Fitzhugh, promoting an idea that the best way for the world to run—the most moral way—is to keep people of color subjugated and controlled and allow white folks to retain their natural superiority. Tuckey’s universe, in part because of how mediocre a person he is, is filled with the illusion that we live in a meritocracy. It is self-serving, of course. His belief is that he has a show on Fox News because he deserves the show and is more talented than other people who could provide news. It is hard to know whether or not Tucker is so far gone up his own ass that he truly believes the fatuous and intellectually corrupt things he says, or if he’s wrapped the world up in such a dreadful cynicism as to believe that once he is gone, everything disappears and the screaming and crying he hears inside of his soul will be relieved. Who is to say?
Warning: This is Tucker Carlson spitting his old-timey invective for dozens of minutes uninterrupted.