Reams and volumes have been written about neo-fascist opinionator Tucker Carlson and his firing last month from Fox News. Up until this AM, I thought there was little or nothing I could add to the clamor over his exit from the nation’s leading disseminator of whiteness, fear, grievance, and disinformation.
But I caught the news of one of his in-house texts in today’s New York Times and, for pity’s sake, I just wanna scream. Failing that, I’ve decided to throw my dollar’s worth herein.
Here’s the text in question :
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I’m sure I’d hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?
Perhaps I’d be better off letting psychiatric professionals parse his text. In it, Carlson is clearly torn between being a somewhat decent human being and an ugly, violent, reactionary beast. Carlson is, as of this date, 53 years old. He’ll be turning 54 in twelve days. We like to think a middle-aged person in his mid-sixth decade on this mad, mad, mad, mad planet might have a better handle on who he is.
Certainly there’s grey area in our thoughts and feelings even as we push 70 or 80 or 90 years old. We’re all constantly growing and maturing (it is hoped), fine tuning our philosophies and morals, becoming (again, it is hoped) a better human being today than we were yesterday or 25 years ago.
Clearly, though, Carlson is grappling with contradictory moral certitudes more befitting a 13-year-old. And, inasmuch as Carlson has reflected and led a huge swath of the American citizenry these last six or seven years, that moral ambiguity is far more prevalent than any of us would ever want to acknowledge among our +330 million national sisteren and brethren.
Now, any one of us might say I’d like to see so-and-so get the shit kicked out of him. That’s throwaway stuff, reminiscent of the key line from “12 Angry Men” where the angriest of the eponymous jury panel shouts “I could kill you!” at the guy he disagrees with. The idea being, those were just angry words not a statement of actual intent.
I don’t know how many times I heard someone say about the 45th President of the United States, “I wish somebody would shoot him.” I never said that myself but I get the emotion behind it. The people who said that weren’t advocating for assassination. They simple wished the then-President Trump would go away.
Let’s put it in simple domestic terms. Even couples in the strongest and most loving marriages are likely to have said to each other, at some point in time, I hate you!
They don’t hate each other, as a rule, but perhaps they do in that moment. In less emotionally charged moments, they wouldn’t grapple with the question of whether or not they hate or love each other. They don’t say, I love my spouse dearly. Our marriage is strong. Yet I hate the hell out of her/him, too.
Then again, a lot of married couples do say that in their most honest moments. Those couples probably are on a fast track toward divorce. If you’re wrestling with the question of love or hate re: your mate, your marriage is teetering.
Similarly, the marriage we share with our fellow Americans is teetering. The hoped-for unity citizens of a single nation should share is being chipped away day by day, hour by hour, thanks to internet-driven polarization and and cable news sensationalism. Thanks, largely, to people like Tucker Carlson.
That said, I haven’t even mentioned Carlson’s line, “It’s not how white men fight.” That one was a stunner. Does he believe white men always fight acc’d’g to the rules of the Marquess of Queensberry? And that, say, black men, women, brown people, and all others not included in Carlson’s idealized bunch — gays and lesbians, trans people, Democrats, liberals, progressives, foreigners, immigrants, civil servants, and so on — fight unfairly, ganging up on individuals, slipping horseshoes into their boxing gloves?
White men, if you follow Carlson’s train of thought here, are the paragon of fairness and decency. In that, he entertains no qualms. He’s as certain as a middle-aged person should be about, say, whether or not someone he disagrees with should be beaten by a passel of thugs. And, in that, he again reflects the belief of a huge swath of the American populace. We’re better, say many in white America, than all those others.
Carlson wraps it all up with the line, “How am I better than he is?” Which, push comes to shove, is the key idea here. Not the question of whether an antifa kid should be beaten or killed. Not Carlson’s visceral craving to see the kid in pain. Not whether his bloodlust is right or wrong.
All that stuff is secondary to Carlson’s main point — that he and his kind are “better” than others. That’s why Americans are on a fast track to divorce.