TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): So, there are a million places to start, there are so many things happening. I want to look a little more deeply into one story, into several facets of a story in the news today, because I think it might tell us what's happening more broadly. And it's a story of a woman called Amanda Gorman, who is a poet, she's 23, when she was 22 she gave the inaugural poem at President Biden's inauguration.
The key thing to know about Amanda Gorman is that she is the representative of an oppressed group — that is the way we are introduced to her in every profile. Amanda Gorman, in addition to being called “Amanda,” is the product of the most expensive private school in Los Angeles, $42,000 a year for 13 years, Harvard College for 4 years, a semester abroad in Spain — all paid for by others, no student debt. In what sense is she oppressed?
DOUGLAS MURRAY (ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE SPECTATOR): Well, obviously the age we live in has a strange value system. Many of us grew up in societies where we admired people who were brave or heroic, who strove to show people the way to be brave in their lives.
In our own lifetimes, this has changed. Now, if you want to be a leader, you have to show that you are an oppressed minority, you have to show suffering, you have to show beleaguerment, that everything's been done against you. People are meant to not admire heroism but to admire suffering. And so we have created a suffering Olympics, where even very very privileged people wish people not to recognize their privilege but rather to think of them as being downtrodden. And this is just this era's passport to elite success.
CARLSON: It does seem like sometimes the most privileged spend the most time telling us that they're oppressed. And I guess that's what's so bewildering as you watch this.
MURRAY: Yes. And of course, it's an impossible game because we could point out that this is nonsense. We could just say, I don't recognize your right to claim victimhood. You seem not to me to be a victim. But then there are clever little things you can do as a part of that. You can say back to that, well, I'm part of X oppressed group. So even though I might have been lucky in my life, I'm part of a group that can give me the passport to elite success by being oppressed.
There are other ones like this. People can say, Oh, I've got mental health as if everybody else doesn't have any mental health issues. You can do various things like this. But the point is to show yourself to be the most oppressed person so that you win, so that you win, and then you can tell everyone else what to do.
And Amanda Gorman has this to an extraordinary extent. It's almost as if it's the whole thing of her doing this alleged poem, just a list of banalities, really, at the inauguration, it was almost just, I dare you -- I dare you to criticize this work. There were people who criticized the poem who immediately were lambasted for criticizing how dare you criticize the poem.
Amanda Gorman, by any normal measure, has, as you pointed out, had a much luckier life than almost anybody in America.
But if you point out that even you don't like a poem, it doesn't seem to rhyme, doesn't seem to scan, doesn't seem to be memorable. You're doing that against somebody you're not meant to criticize because the person you're criticizing can claim oppression. This is an irreducible game. I mean, we can all play it. It's just that I think decent people wouldn't and shouldn't.
CARLSON: What does it do to art? I mean if you care about -- I actually like poetry and I think it's interesting, it's important, it's difficult to write. If you tell a population this is beauty, this is art, when it's so obviously not what does that do to art?
MURRAY: Well, our age has decided that beauty isn't very important.
It's decided that political banality is of utmost importance, that your life will be find meaning if you demonstrate and wave placards and much more. I think this is a horrible view of life. It's a radical left view of life that thinks you'll find meaning by protesting and yelling. These people forget that actually, I think nobody on their deathbeds looks back at their life and thinks, I wish I'd attended that protest, I wish I'd made placards. Wouldn't it have been good? No. Most of them deathbeds regret they didn't spend more time with loved ones.
MURRAY: So the whole sense of what's important in our society has changed radically and in an ugly direction.
It makes everything political. It wants to politicize everything. It wants to politicize art. It wants to politicize poetry. All of the things that were meaningful in our lives have been picked up and spun through this cycle of politics. And it's boring. It's ugly.
And I think that it's the job of any sensible person to say, I refute this. I refuse to join in this game. I refuse to have this vision of life. I have a better vision of life and how it should be lived. And we should have said that.