Tucker Carlson is a twit.
The Fox News commentator unfortunately has a lot of other “twits” who like him or at least watch his show, which ranks among the 20 most watched on television. He’s second on Fox only to Sean Hannity, another twit, with more than 3 million nightly viewers.
On an August night when the country was reeling from mass-shooting tragedy, he dismissed white supremacy as a legitimate or serious problem. That’s in the face of evidence that the El Paso shooter was motivated by strong racial and ethnic animus as he murdered 22 persons shopping at a Walmart on Aug. 3.
Carlson, of course, is a muse to President Donald Trump, whose rhetoric fuels the flames of racism and division in America. They speak regularly and Carlson offers advice. This is a president with a kitchen cabinet of right-wing gurus, Carlson and Hannity prominent among them. Their ideas belong in the kitchen all right. In the disposal.
White supremacy is real, Tucker. I am here to tell you.
In the 1980s I had a full-time bodyguard for a while at the Star-Telegram because there was a local white supremacist who was regularly threatening to kill me. He brazenly showed up several times at the newspaper offices trying to pay me a personal visit.
His beef? He disliked my views on race, particularly what he saw as my sympathies for people of color. So crazy and obsessed was he that he discovered my oldest daughter was a newspaper reporter in Memphis and he wrote to tell me he knew where she lived, her daily patterns, the make and model of her car, and of his deep suspicion that she shared my views. She parked her car in a covered garage that was supposed to be safe but the car was vandalized several times while she lived in Memphis.
As my antagonist progressed from disgruntled and irate reader to a real threat we had the FBI check him out. He was connected to a white supremacist group associated with the murder of a radio talk show host in Denver, Colorado.
So, yes, white supremacy is real.
In the darkest of scenarios there are those in this country who predict another civil war among our people. And that would be yet another reason for new and stringent gun control laws.
We all live in an El Paso or a Dayton. Don’t think we don’t. It’s now just a matter of when and where the next mass killings will take place. None of us are safe.
And when someone such as Carlson, who has ardent followers, spouts this sort of garbage it’s dangerous.
Here’s an excerpt from the Associated Press report on Carlson’s rant:
“On Tuesday [Aug. 6)], he dismissed the concept of white supremacy as a serious problem for the country.
“‘The combined membership of every white supremacist organization – would they be able to fit into a college football stadium?’ Carlson said. ‘I mean, seriously. This is a country where the average person is getting poorer, where the suicide rate is spiking.’
“Adopting a low, mocking voice, he said, ‘White supremacy, that's the problem. This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That's exactly what's going on.’
“He said he'd ‘never met anybody who ascribes to white supremacy. I don't know a single person who thinks this is a good idea. They're making this up. It's a talking point that they can use in this election cycle.’”
Luckily we have politicians, including presidential candidates, who are getting fired up over the issue of hate and taking it to the stump. Democratic White House hopefuls Cory Booker and Joe Biden both unleashed impassioned speeches against Trump’s brand of racism.
Biden said Trump’s speeches and Twitter posts have “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”
Here’s a quote from Biden’s speech in Iowa:
“Trump readily, eagerly attacks Islamic terrorism but can barely bring himself to use the words ‘white supremacy.’ And even when he says it, he doesn’t appear to believe it. He seems more concerned about losing their votes than beating back this hateful ideology.”
Trump’s response was predictable. Even as he traveled to El Paso and Dayton to ostensibly help heal the country, the president couldn’t resist the urge to dismiss Biden’s concerns and mock him on Twitter.
That’s what twits do. They tweet while the country is in agony and is gripped – or should be – with fear.
Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org