Fox News host Tucker Carlson has long been a fan of anti-immigrant screeds that claim “demographic change” will inevitably “change this country completely and forever” in ways you, dear viewer, should be terrified of. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting national economic crisis ravage U.S. cities, Carlson has fearmongered about the Black Lives Matter movement, using his coverage as a new cudgel against “demographic shifts.”
This summer has been marked by nationwide protests against police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Right-wing talking heads, including Carlson, have seized on sensational images of police-protester clashes to argue that there is an atmosphere of unrestrained chaos in major cities.
On August 10, Carlson declared that residents of Georgetown, an affluent neighborhood in Washington, D.C., would eventually get tired of “screaming BLM lunatics on their streets” and flee.
The claim is a novel twist on Carlson’s previous comment that immigrantion makes America “poorer, dirtier, and more divided.” And it sheds light on Carlson’s vision of the country, one in which upper class — often implicitly white — Americans are the stabilizing force in society, and if they were to retreat from cities there could be nothing left but mobs of uncontrolled protesters and, apparently, immigrants. Carlson comes close to explicitly stating this by suggesting that the “BLM lunatics” are destroying “order and decency” in American cities.
Carlson’s coverage of protests has not focused on an honest analysis of the social and economic causes at the root of disproportionate levels of policing in communities of color. Instead, he uses the perceived “chaos” of civil unrest to create a narrative in which the role of law enforcement in society is an “ancient battle” between “thugs” and “normal people.”
To Carlson, the changes desired by Black Lives Matter protesters -- change that would address systemic oppression of people of color -- “challenge Western civilization itself.” In his telling, the wealthy, mostly white city dwellers fleeing to the suburbs are taking the structure of civilization with them.
If we look back at Carlson’s coverage of liberal cities, it’s clear he thinks the absence of the affluent class would leave behind a society dominated by immigrants, homeless people, and the multicultural “terrorist” group BLM. He skips over the possibility of beneficial change and into a future where “violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them.” Carlson warns his viewers that they “will not want to live here when that happens.” But he also offers a solution, much like he offers “solutions” to the perceived immigrant invasion: vote Republican, as the Republican Party will be your protector. Only Republicans can stop Democrats from abolishing the suburbs and “remak[ing] America completely.”