For decades, white nationalists have invoked the specter of nonwhite immigration, multiculturalism, and declining birthrates to argue for the existence of a vast conspiracy aimed at eliminating white populations as a dominant demographic. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson is distributing the language, grievances, goals, and inherent call to action of the conspiracy theory to massive audiences.
On the April 8 broadcast of Fox News Primetime, Carlson offered perhaps his most explicit justification yet for the core belief of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory: that a wave of “Third World” invaders is coming to replace you and reshape your environment, and that you, the audience, should do something about it.
The Fox News host claimed that “what’s true” is that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” and no one should “sit back and take that.”
The great replacement theory has inspired a bloody trail of horrific events across the world. The racist mass shooters in both Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, wrote of their belief in the theory. The neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, did so to chants of “Jews will not replace us” and “You will not replace us.” These events shocked people around the globe, but the beliefs that motivated them are not confined to the dark corners of online message boards; they are increasingly present in the mainstream right-wing lexicon, especially where Carlson is involved.
Following the murder of 51 people in a New Zealand mosque, Nathan Robinson in the Guardian pointed to the striking parallels between Carlson’s own writing and the writing of the shooter in his manifesto.
Here, for example, is a passage from Carlson’s most recent book, on the topic of why “diversity” makes us weaker:
When confronted or pressed for details, [proponents of diversity] retreat into a familiar platitude, which they repeat like a zen koan: diversity is our strength. But is diversity our strength? The less we have in common, the stronger we are? Is that true of families? Is it true in neighborhoods or businesses? Of course not. Then why is it true of America? Nobody knows. Nobody’s even allowed to ask the question.
And here is an excerpt from the manifesto issued by the man who killed 51 people in a New Zealand mosque:
Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength? Does anyone even ask why? It is spoken like a mantra and repeated ad infinitum … But no one ever seems to give a reason why. What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength? What part of diversity causes this increase in strength? No one can give an answer.
The man who killed 23 people, most of them Hispanic, in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart left similar declarations in his manifesto, adamant in particular that the United States was at the mercy of a migrant “invasion.” And Fox News is one of the primary outlets casting immigrants as a threatening force invading America. In 2019 alone, prior to the El Paso massacre, Fox News’ fearmongering about a migrant invasion included over 70 on-air references to an invasion of migrants, at least 55 clips of then-President Donald Trump calling the surge of migrants an invasion, and at least 21 uses of invasion rhetoric by hosts Carlson, Brian Kilmeade, and Laura Ingraham.
Carlson spoke of the United States supposedly being invaded on nine occasions, including stating, “This is an invasion, and it’s terrifying.” And he regularly broadcasts this sort of messaging regarding diversity and immigration:
Media Matters has compiled hundreds of examples of Carlson pushing white nationalist rhetoric. Here are a few of them.
- May 2004: Carlson: “I don’t see” that “diversity is the strength of our country.” In a 2004 interview with NYTV on the launch of his PBS show, Carlson “I want a place where if you’ve got an opinion that you think is right, but a little out of step with the mainstream, and you’re embarrassed to express it, you feel comfortable expressing it on this show.” He added, “I was thinking this morning: ‘Diversity is the strength of our country.’ Oh yeah? How’s that? Why don’t you explain that to me? I don’t see that. I mean, is diversity the strength of the Balkans? No.”
- April 17, 2017: While ranting about “more than 350,000 migrants” arriving in Europe, Carlson referred to the refugee influx as an “invasion” changing Europe’s demographics. Carlson reported that “more than 7,000 African migrants” had arrived in Italy in the days prior, and warned that “many of them will remain, some for generations, as beneficiaries of European welfare states.” He said that the refugees arrived “without invitation illegally and at public expense” and fearmongered that they would “forever and profoundly change the demographics of the continent in ways that pretty much nobody who was born there ever asked for or wanted.”
- September 18, 2017: Carlson claimed that striving for diversity “gets you to civil war.” During a discussion of the 2017 Emmy awards ceremony, Carlson bizarrely attacked actress and director Issa Rae for saying she was rooting for Black people to win, saying that is “opposite of diversity." Carlson also claimed that advocating for diversity in entertainment “gets you to civil war.”
- November 1, 2017: Carlson referred to the victims of a New York terrorist attack as “martyrs to a diversity cult worshiped by our ruling class.” In response to a deadly terror attack in New York City allegedly carried out by an immigrant who came to the U.S. on a diversity visa, Carlson claimed the victims were “martyrs to a diversity cult worshiped by our ruling class” and accused “this country's leaders” of deciding “that diversity, in and of itself, is of greater importance than the well-being of this country's people.”
- January 18, 2018: Carlson attacked immigration and ethnic diversity for “radically and permanently changing our country." While slamming Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for saying “diversity is our strength,” Carlson questioned the value of diversity and claimed, “Our leaders are radically and permanently changing our country, wholly on the basis of their faith that diversity is, in fact, our strength.” He then said diversity would lead people to “hate each other.”
- January 18, 2018: Mark Steyn, the Fox guest host that Carlson was talking with on April 8, appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight and defended white supremacists and claimed that Hispanics in Arizona represent the end of American society.
- September 7, 2018: Carlson attacked American diversity, saying that it makes “marriage or military units” less cohesive. In a racist monologue attacking the value of diversity in American society that echoed white nationalist talking points, Tucker pitted “diversity” and “freedom of speech” against each other and claimed “racial discrimination” against white people is “acceptable” and “encouraged” in today’s society. After the segment prompted widespread criticism, Carlson attempted a defense on Twitter. White supremacists online celebrated the segment and agreed with Carlson.
- July 8, 2019: Carlson argued it’s racist and disgusting to want more diversity in Congress. He singled out Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and claimed that “the argument Tlaib is making” -- for Democratic leaders to uplift the voices of women of color in Congress -- is “‘give us power because of our skin color.’” Carlson called Tlaib’s desire for diversity “a racist pitch” and compared it to white candidates asking for votes because of their race during Jim Crow.
- January 20, 2020: Carlson: “The long-term agenda of refugee resettlement is to bring in future Democratic voters.”
- November 19, 2020: Carlson attacked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for tweeting that the GOP is “stronger because of our diversity.” Carlson said, “We need to find the person who decided that tweet was a good idea and fire him immediately.”
- February 8, 2021: Carlson claimed President Joe Biden’s immigration policy is “an act of aggression” meant “to punish you.” Carlson: “Reckless and destructive immigration policy is the penalty you are paying for your white supremacy.”
- March 16, 2021: Carlson: Immigrants are being brought in as new citizens “to replace the disobedient ones.”
- March 25, 2021: Carlson warned viewers that immigration will “change your country forever, possibly for the worse.”
- April 5, 2021: Carlson: The immigrants currently in America “devalue your political power” and “subvert democracy.” Carlson: The number is “high enough to devalue your political power as a voter. It's high enough to subvert democracy itself. It's high enough to make this country a different place.”
The effects of the great replacement theory have already been felt, with a long list of lives lost to the hateful fiction. In America, on an uncomfortably regular basis, the host of the most-watched cable news show on television comfortably recites its tenets and calls for his viewers to mobilize, setting the stage for the next act in a seemingly neverending play of violence.