Tucker Carlson tried to use his white daughter as a shield the way many white parents are using their kids when talk turns to race and "Critical Race Theory"
I have more faith in white kids than many white adults seem to
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the short video from this past weekend about Fox News Channel primetime talk show host Tucker Carlson being confronted by an angry dude in Montana. The interaction is instructive, says a lot about where we are.
Full disclosure: I’m no fan of Carlson. I despise what he does on a nightly basis. He uses his big platform to whitewash white supremacist conspiracy theories about white people supposedly being replaced. He raises doubts about vaccine efforts even as hundreds of people are unnecessarily dying in this country. He lies and distorts. And though I’ve been in this business for a long time and have been in confrontations like the one in that video with readers upset with something I had written, I have no sympathy for him in this exchange, given that not too long ago, Carlson was telling his audience members to confront strangers about mask wearing. Seems that advice boomeranged on him.
I suspect Carlson will use this incident in whatever way he thinks will most enhance his brand. He will either cry victim or pump out his chest and say “Bring it on!” But it won’t be a principled stance, rather a calculated one. That’s my assessment of him and his character. Did I mention I’m no fan of his?
Fox News has already taken the “Tucker is a victim” route:
A quick aside: I was recently in a teacher training session on Zoom with professors from a variety of universities and colleges. One of them said she swore by Carlson, that she demands complete silence at 8 every weeknight while she watches his show. I was horrified. No, I don’t want her fired or punished and will not be mentioning her name. Just wanted to point out his influence even over some people in higher education.
The most interesting part of the interaction was the mention of Carlson’s daughter, as though the man was wrong - and egregiously so - because Carlson’s daughter could see and hear what was going on. She must not be discomforted even if it is just her father getting a small bit of comeuppance for his own nastiness, for all he’s done to hurt black and brown kids and so many others. Truth matters less than her comfort. Her comfort clearly matters more than the comfort level of the black and brown kids, and their parents, Carlson has no problem spitting on nightly.
Did I mention I’m not a fan of his?
I’ve seen that happen more frequently, particularly during debates and discussions related to race and what some people have referred to as Critical Race Theory even though it’s not CRT. That phenomenon is illustrated well by a Washington Post story from this past weekend. You should read the entire thing, but in a nutshell: An extremely racist act — white students “selling” black students — created an urgency to deal with racism in a school district. Officials pushed forward with diversity efforts - and angry white parents began pushing back, claiming it was “CRT” indoctrination.
It’s the kind of thing that is happening throughout the country, white parents angry their white children might be discomforted by lessons about race. It’s getting beyond ridiculous. In this case, the diversity statement was scaled back in multiple ways.
From the Washington Post:
By that time, school board members — wary of the building backlash — had already reworked the document. The second version lacks the line about applying a “social equity and diversity lens” to the curriculum. It also no longer suggests the district will add “marginalized” authors to their libraries, nor that Traverse City schools will give students more opportunities to learn about “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging issues.”
Officials furthermore deleted the terms “racism” and “racial violence” from a list of things the school district condemns. Also deleted is a passage that stated “racism and hate have no place in our schools or in our society.”
Despite those changes, even backing off a stance against racism and racial violence, those angry white parents remained angry. Truth is not as important as their comfort.
It’s akin to what happened in Texas recently, when Republicans there voted to remove mandates to teach subjects as divisive as, um, Martin Luther King Jr. and saying that the Ku Klux Klan was morally wrong.
They also objected to lessons that dealt with slavery’s role in the Battle of the Alamo.
Not to be outdone, Republicans in Missouri decided to have a legislative committee about the teaching of race in public schools without a single black person testifying. And don’t forget that some white parents in Tennessee now believe
No one should be surprised by what’s happening. It is precisely the outcome men like Christopher Rufo - maybe the most prominent and influential among the anti-CRT brigade - said they wanted. They wanted to label as many things as possible CRT and distort the meaning of CRT as well as any diversity concepts with which they disagree.
Take a look at these scary - scary! - lessons about race that are now being highlighted as a threat to the sensibilities of white kids:
This is all being done on purpose. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let Rufo’s words speak for themselves:
Which brings me back to Tucker. White kids are being weaponized by their angry white parents and high-profile propagandists and elected officials to maintain a status quo that is quite comfortable teaching black kids to revere the white men who beat, raped, robbed and murder their black ancestors. They are being weaponized by opportunists like Carlson and Rufo for their own purposes. We must not let them succeed.
I’ve taught a lot of white students, and it is clear that they are fully capable, and often eager, to learn more about these difficult subjects even when it discomforts them - especially when it discomforts them. They aren’t the snowflakes Carlson, Rufo et al are making them out to be. I have a lot more faith in white kids and students than I do many of the adults who are using them like pawns in their political games.