Fox News host Tucker Carlson has insisted that white supremacist violence is not a pressing issue in America. But such a declaration doesn’t seem to have stopped actual white supremacists in several instances of apparent domestic terror plots that have been thwarted by authorities in just the past two weeks.
On the August 6 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight — broadcast just days after a suspected gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, TX, and after the gunman allegedly posted a white nationalist manifesto online — Carlson declared that it was a “lie” that white supremacy is even an urgent problem in America. “If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns of problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list?” Carlson asked rhetorically. “Right up there with Russia, probably. … Just like the Russia hoax, it's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That's exactly what's going on.”
Since that statement, however, multiple suspects have been arrested on charges related to plotting attacks motivated by white nationalism:
On August 8, a Las Vegas man was arrested on suspicion of possessing parts to make a bomb, which he had intended to use against Jewish and LGBTQ targets, NBC News reported. Federal prosecutors also said that the suspect, 23-year-old Conor Climo, had connections to white supremacists via encrypted online conversations.
On August 9, Florida man Richard Clayton, 26, was arrested for allegedly making an online threat in a Facebook posting, in an apparent reference to the El Paso attack: “3 more days of probation left then I get my AR-15 back. Don’t go to Walmart next week.” Florida law enforcement officials say he has expressed belief in white supremacist ideology, ABC News reports.
On August 15, 22-year-old Connecticut man Brandon Wagshol was arrested for alleged illegal possession of large capacity magazines, with the FBI and local police statement claiming that he “had a Facebook post that showed his interest in committing a mass shooting.” Talking Points Memo also reports that Wagshol’s social media posts had displayed graphic hostility against African Americans and transgender people — as well as posts influenced by President Donald Trump’s comment about immigrants coming from “shithole” countries. (He also apparently reposted an image that Talking Points Memo describes as “a bizarre meme of Trump apparently defeating Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a sumo wrestling match.”)
On August 16, 20-year-old Ohio man James Reardon Jr. was arrested for telecommunications harassment, after he posted online about mass shootings and tagged a local Jewish community center. Reardon had also attended the 2017 “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, VA, ABC News reports, and police discovered anti-Semitic and white nationalist materials in his home, as well as weapons, ammunition, a gas mask, and bulletproof armor.
Also on August 16, Maryland resident Eric Lin, age 35, was arrested in Seattle for allegedly sending threatening messages to a Hispanic woman in Miami, according to NBC Miami. (He alsos allegedly plotted to have the woman kidnapped.) Lin appeared in federal court on August 20, the Miami New Times reports. Lin also allegedly said in one of the threatening messages: “I thank god every day Donald John Trump is President and that he will launch a Racial War and Crusade to keep the Niggers, Spics, and Muslims and any dangerous non-White or Ethnically or Culturally foreign group ‘In Line.’ By ‘in Line’ it is meant that they will either be sent to ‘Concentration Camps’ or dealt with Ruthlessly and Vigorously by the United States Military.” He also sent messages expressing an allegiance to Adolf Hitler.
These arrests come at the same time as a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that only 36% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the recent shootings in both El Paso and Dayton, OH, which stands in stark contrast to the past approval numbers of other presidents’ handling of mass tragic events (Barack Obama’s was 74% after the Tucson, AZ, shooting in 2011, George W. Bush’s was 87% after 9/11, and Bill Clinton’s was 84% after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995).
The poll also shows a stark partisan divide on whether Americans are worried about another mass shooting or other attack by white nationalists. While current events would seem to point to an obvious answer of “yes” (regardless of what the causes and possible solutions might be), the internals of the poll -- posted on Twitter by CNBC’s John Harwood -- showed that only 24% of Republicans actually said so, compared to 82% of Democrats and 58% of independents.