Is Tucker Carlson Inciting Racist Police & “Karens” to Harm Minorities?

This latest stunt by Fox News and Tucker Carlson goes way beyond bad taste or a cruel prank. Its intention appears to be to terrify & harm the most powerless in our society.

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Bill O’Reilly spent months working to get Dr. George Tiller, calling him “Tiller the Baby Killer” 24 times on the air. His efforts finally succeeded when the abortion doctor was assassinated by a zealot in May of 2009.

In terms of creating chaos, pain and human misery, Tucker Carlson appears to be following in O’Reilly’s footsteps.

It’s the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump deciding that since Covid was mostly killing Black people in Blue states he was going to stop all government efforts to do anything about it.

And it wasn’t just Trump: the entire right wing media and think-tank crowd were in on it that month, as I documented in detail here.

And on this anniversary, it looks like the white supremacist right and their most prominent hero, Tucker Carlson, are trying to do the same thing all over again: Put the lives of as many people of color in jeopardy as possible, while gleefully making life as miserable as they can for them at the same time.

Until a few months ago, conventional wisdom was that “vaccine hesitancy“ was principally an issue in the Black community. There were shows about it, articles about it, and a concerted effort to convince Black people that Tuskegee was another era, medicine was more colorblind, and this vaccine really is what the government says it is.

Turns out the whole effort was unnecessary: Black people have known for a year that the risks of Covid are greater for them, and have been among the most careful in our population when it comes to wearing masks, practicing hygiene and getting vaccinated.

Which means when some ass comes along and says that white Fox News viewers should be calling 911 on people wearing masks, or parents with children wearing masks should be turned over to Child Protective Services, the weight of that state power will fall mostly on Black and Brown people.

If you think Tucker and his friends at Fox News hadn’t figured this out before they began this campaign, I have a bridge to sell you. 

While it helped amp-up his sagging ratings and fed the perpetual outrage machine that has become right-wing media, what’s really going on here is that Tucker Carlson and his friends are encouraging a nationwide army of “Karens” to harass minorities who are simply trying to go about their own business and keep themselves and their children safe from a deadly disease.

He actually said, on national television:

 “Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.” 

While police power can be both brutal and deadly, particularly when directed toward Black people in America, the corollary power of Child Protective Services can also be downright terrifying to parents.

Louise and I worked in the field 40 years ago, and, as anybody who knows the system can tell you, the ease and capriciousness with which children can be taken from their parents can be absolutely shocking compared to the due process afforded people in the adult criminal justice system.

Low income parents, and particularly low income Black parents, often live in fear of Child Protective Services. Louise once went to court and got in a rather heated fight with a judge over whether 10- and 12-year-old siblings she represented should be removed from a group home because that facility’s vegetarian diet constituted, in the minds of the social worker and the judge, “child abuse.“ The judge wanted to put the kids in the county’s equivalent of a children’s prison, where they could be brutalized, but at least would get meat.

The system is confusing, opaque, and often is capricious and practically impossible to appeal. It’s one of the most frightening things you can threaten a low-income family with, particularly a family of color who may end up before a white social worker and judge.

And if the family is here without documentation, multiply that fear, terror and risk of being turned in to authorities by 100.

Which is why, of course, right-wingers like Tucker Carlson would encourage their white viewers and listeners to do exactly that. 

Hard-right white supremacist commentators also want to make sure that Black and low income parents know that they’re promoting telling their white middle-class viewers to do this: it adds to the terror.

The fear of confronting the state can also change behavior. If Tucker and his white supremacist buddies can frighten enough people of color into not protecting themselves or their children with masks, they can increase the rate at which these “least of the least among us” suffer infection, disability and even death.

That’s a bonus: fewer people of color to “replace” white people…

This latest ratings stunt by Fox News goes way beyond bad taste or a cruel prank. It is a vicious, racist, intentional effort to terrify and harm the most powerless in our society.

It defines the word “reprehensible,” and those who program, promote and sponsor such hateful, petty and barely human behavior share responsibility for its consequences.


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