By Victor Davis Hanson
“What was really regrettable about the political manipulation of these crimes is the hunt for all sorts of political opponents who can be smeared by falsely attributing to them direct responsibility for the El Paso tragedy.
The subtext of these twisted efforts is that Trump brought out from the woodwork toxic white supremacy that is now everywhere and is the root of violent extremism.
Fox News’s Tucker Carlson has recently questioned all these narratives and now he, too, is a target of the media and the online outrage industry, in calls for sponsor boycotts and his firing.
His sin? Carlson, over the past few months and especially the past few days, has voiced some inconvenient truths that earn outrage but not refutation:
• One, while white supremacy ideology always must be monitored and can trigger the unhinged – as the El Paso shooting may turn out to suggest – it is no longer a ubiquitous movement as it once was in the 20th century.
The days of the Klan and the American Nazi Party are mostly over. They are now fringe organizations. They and others like them are derided by the public, and uniformly condemned by conservatives. To suggest that white supremacy is some all-encompassing, 21st-century existential threat to our collective security, rather than fringe extremism to be carefully monitored, is simply untrue.
• Two, Carlson emphasized that in comparison to America’s real existential challenges – homelessness, drug epidemics, the threat of Chinese mercantilism, keeping a vibrant economy going – white supremacy simply does not register with the general public as a major threat. Certainly, in terms of annual fatal shootings, the staggering death tolls in Chicago and Baltimore suggest a national crisis that is ignored for largely political reasons.
Nonwhite immigrants still sense that reality when they risk their lives to immigrate to a white-majority America. The public knows that the media’s reporting of near-daily anti-Semitic bias is far more likely to emanate from the so-called squad in the Houseor an unhinged speech of Louis Farrakhan than from the old suspects of the past in bed sheets and swastika armbands. Yet, left-wing anti-Semites are still welcomed or at least tolerated by many in the progressive movement.
• Three, Carlson argued that the United States, while not perfect, is a good nation of good people who daily go about their business judging others by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Its Constitution and popular ethos have always been self-critical, and saw moral and ethical improvement as inevitable as the nation’s stunning technological and material advances. Compared to the alternatives abroad, a multiracial and multiethnic America works and constantly seeks to improve. And Carlson often points out that widening class differences have superseded race as the more worrisome divides in American society.
• Four, and most controversially, Carlson repeatedly has cited political opportunism as the fuel that powers these untruths. He has been unapologetic that those who falsely charge that white supremacy defines America, past and present, have clear agendas. Without such venomous charges, they cannot win popular support: “They promise some Americans reparations, they denounce others for their skin color. They call it ‘privilege.’ The entire country, they’ll tell you, is fundamentally racist and therefore, evil.”
The charge of “white supremacy” has now become the natural heir to the failed narratives of the past three years that Trump should be removed under the 25th Amendment, or that Robert Mueller would find him indictable on charges of collusion and obstruction, or that he is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and, thus, impeachable. All reflect a lack of progressive confidence that they can vote Trump out of office in the next election, and instead seek to use extraordinary means to abort his presidency.
We are already well into the 2020 election cycle. National Democratic candidates are promoting agendas – open borders, free health care and education for undocumented immigrants, reparations, the Green New Deal and “Medicare for all.” None so far poll anywhere near 50 percent approval.
The current effort to tar the country and conservatives with the charge of white supremacy should be seen in just that context of whipping up popular outrage for policies that otherwise do not appeal to most Americans. So often, the charge of white privilege, Carlson has argued, is leveled against those who do not enjoy it by those who do, for a variety of careerist and perhaps psychological reasons.
• Fifth, and finally, Carlson has emphasized that the outrage machine is asymmetrical and there is no disinterested standard by which to adjudicate extremist speech and conduct.
Americans are confused over which standards suddenly are applied to whom. Do the racialist past smears of former Vice President Joe Biden or former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) illustrate widespread hate speech? What did then-candidate Barack Obama mean when he talked of a “typical white person,” or former attorney general Eric Holder infer when he referred to “my people“? When Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) compares Israelis residing on the West Bank to “termites,” or Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) cites Jewish money and Israeli politicians as running U.S. foreign policy, are there commensurate condemnations?”