On Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed that white supremacy “is a hoax…a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.”
Oh. My. God.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on Tuesday that white supremacy in the United States is a “hoax” and a “conspiracy theory.”
“If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns—of problems this country faces—where would white supremacy be on the list?” pic.twitter.com/4KxYJzOccP
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) August 7, 2019
As the country struggles to make sense of two mass shootings that claimed 31 lives—one in Dayton, Ohio, and another in El Paso, Texas—at least one thing’s for certain: white supremacy is no hoax.
Carlson’s words come after reports that the El Paso shooter was motivated by racist, anti-immigrant views, purportedly leaving behind a manifesto that was posted to 8chan, the well known alt-right haven. (The gunman responsible for the Christchurch, New Zealand shootings that claimed 51 lives had posted his 87-page Islamophobic and anti-immigrant manifesto on the site.) The El Paso manifesto included language that singled out a “Hispanic invasion” as a possible motive, echoing some of President Donald Trump’s favorite rhetoric.
But the El Paso shooter is far from the only piece of recent evidence showing white supremacy is a real threat to lives in the U.S. and around the world. According to CNN, an “audit by the Anti-Defamation League found white supremacist murders in the US ‘more than doubled in 2017.'” There’s also the nine dead at the hands of white supremacist Dylan Roof—intent on starting a “race war“—at black Charleston church in 2015. There’s the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, in Charlottesville, which left Heather Heyer dead at the hands of a white supremacist.
Just a week before the El Paso shooting, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate that over the past fiscal year, most of the bureau’s domestic terrorism arrests have involved some form of white supremacy.
“If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns—of problems this country faces—where would white supremacy be on the list?” Carlson said on Tuesday, in the face of these facts. “Right up there with Russia probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America.”
This language is no surprise. Media Matters has outlined Carlson’s history of remarks echoing and amplifying white supremacist language and ideologies. In 2007, Carlson claimed that the NAACP—one of the nation’s oldest civil right’s organizations—is “a sad joke that should be shut down.” In 2013 he said that a governmental diversity program in Phoenix, Arizona was based on “the same rationale that propped up Jim Crow for 80 years.” Last year, Carlson asked a guest “to be honest and make a negative generalization about any other racial or ethnic group in this country.” In March, the watchdog group unearthed audio of Carlson on a popular radio show repeatedly making racist remarks—as well as making misogynistic and sexual remarks about underage girls. “Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys,” he told the host. “They can just shut the fuck and obey, is my view.”
As Trump’s administration has ramped up their attacks on immigrants and asylum seekers, Carlson’s show has been integral to perpetuating the language used by the president to stoke fears about immigrant communities. His program—which was the number two watched cable news show of July, just after Hannity—played a key role in amplifying the president’s language of an “invasion” in relation to a migrant caravan that traversed Central America and Mexico in the summer of 2018, in advance of the the midterm elections where Trump and the Republican party lost control of the House of Representatives.