After Fox News host Tucker Carlson doubled down on his support of the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory this week, prominent white nationalists across America expressed glee at what they saw as a possible mass radicalization event.
“This week Tucker redpilled 4 million people and there’s nothing liberals can do about it,” Nick Fuentes, the Holocaust-denying leader of the “America First” movement tweeted Monday night. (Being “redpilled,” or “taking the red pill,” is far-right lingo for adopting a white nationalist worldview.)
VDare, a well-known white nationalist website, gushed over Carlson’s monologue like a proud parent.
“This segment is one of the best things Fox News has ever aired and was filled with ideas and talking points VDARE.com pioneered many years ago,” the website’s account tweeted. “You should watch the whole thing.”
Carlson, who hosts one of the most watched programs on cable news, last week expressed his support for the core tenet of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, the white nationalist belief that immigration into the U.S. and European countries amounts to an extinction-level event for white people.
Although Carlson has long used his show to disseminate white nationalism into the homes of millions of conservative Fox viewers, promoting the “great replacement” on air still felt — to both his white nationalist cheerleaders and his left-leaning detractors — like an escalation.
During Thursday’s prime-time show, Carlson said: “Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But … let’s just say it: That’s true.”
Carlson then continued to ascribe other nasty, immutable characteristics to immigrants, falsely claiming they have “shown absolute contempt for our customs, our laws, our system” but are “being treated better than American citizens.”
Immigration, Carlson added, is part of an effort to “dilute the political power of the people” by altering who lives here. “Every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter,” he said.
This is a conspiracy theory cited in the writings of some of the worst white nationalist mass murderers in recent history, including men who killed 51 Muslim worshippers at mosques in New Zealand; 22 mostly Latino people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; and 11 Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
When neo-Nazis marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 with tiki torches, they too invoked the “great replacement,” chanting, “They will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.” Proponents of the “great replacement” believe Jews are responsible for hastening nonwhite immigration.
Fox News did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Following Carlson’s rant, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, took the rare step of calling on the cable news channel to fire Carlson, citing his “full-on embrace of the white supremacist replacement theory.”
But Fox, as it has done for years, stood by its star, and by Monday Carlson was doubling down on the theory during prime time, stating: “It was true and therefore worth saying. America badly needs a national conversation about it.”
Carlson then went further: “Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions,” he said, adding that “Democrats plan to change the population of the country” in order to win elections.
White nationalists quickly picked up on the barely concealed subtext of “demographic change.”
“Great segment mentioning unmentionable reality of demographic replacement,” tweeted Kevin MacDonald, an author beloved by neo-Nazis. “Doesn’t explicitly mention Whites but obviously implied.”
MacDonald — who published a series of books claiming to show that Jews are genetically motivated to destroy white European culture — then referred to a portion of Carlson’s segment in which the host lashed out at the Anti-Defamation League as a “must-see for conservatives.”
The organization, Carlson argued, has itself embraced “replacement” theory in the past — not for America, but for Israel. Carlson pointed to a paper the Anti-Defamation League reportedly published arguing against allowing more Palestinian refugees into Israel, stating that it would lead to Jews becoming a “vulnerable minority” in their own country.
“Why would any democratic nation make its own citizens less powerful?” Carlson said. “Isn’t that the deepest betrayal of all? In the words of the ADL, why would a government subvert its own sovereign existence? Good question. Maybe ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt will join ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ some time to explain and tell us whether that same principle applies to the United States.”
White nationalists were delighted and energized by this part of Carlson’s segment, which they viewed as the ultimate “gotcha” moment, and which echoed an argument they’ve made for years.
“Demographic replacement, ADL, Israel, it’s all there… a full redpill,” tweeted Fuentes, the “America First” leader. “On primetime Fox News for 4 million mainstream conservatives. Can you feel it? We are inevitable.”
According to Ben Lorber, a research analyst at Political Research Associates who studies anti-Semitism, a “full red pill” means Fuentes understood Carlson’s rant to be anti-Semitic.
“For white nationalists,” Lorber explained in a Twitter thread, “Jews engineer white replacement through a quintessentially duplicitous sleight of hand — demanding open borders for the West and refusing ‘open borders for Israel.’ That’s Tucker’s logic here, using ADL as a stand-in for ‘Jew.’”
This tactic, Lorber wrote, is extremely common “on the radical Right,” which has long seized on the ideological inconsistencies of the ADL and “some liberal Zionists, Jewish and non-Jewish” who “support liberal policies in the U.S. and illiberal policies in Israel” as a way of portraying all Jews as hypocrites.
“White nationalists have always loved Tucker, but they often bristle that he doesn’t go far enough,” Lorber wrote. “Not last night — they know a ‘full redpill’ when they see one.”
[White nationalists] are trying to leverage the kind of reflexive support that’s been fostered in the GOP base for the last few years to back Tucker Carlson up on this message.
Jared Holt, resident fellow at The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab
Jared Holt, a resident fellow at The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who studies domestic extremism, saw similar enthusiasm for Carlson in white nationalist channels on Telegram, a messaging app popular among fascists.
“Deep in the trenches of online white nationalism, they are lauding Tucker’s recent defiance of criticisms from the Anti-Defamation League, and using that as a segue to peddle some of their anti-Semitic ideas,” Holt told HuffPost.
Holt pointed to a Telegram post by prominent white nationalist and anti-Semite Michael Peinovich, aka “Mike Enoch,” who helped organize the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville and who has been filmed giving a Nazi salute.
“The fact that Tucker is making this sort of argument is a breakthrough, I will give him credit for going where no TV host has gone before,” Peinovich wrote. “Not in criticizing in Israel, because he did not do that, but in pointing out that Jews take their sovereignty seriously while ours is up for grabs.”
Holt explained that white nationalists — who have long seen Carlson as an ally — have rushed to the Fox News host’s defense over the past week.
“They view him as somebody who is being criticized for speaking some kind of existential truth that’s forbidden from discussion in politics,” Holt said.
And what’s scary, Holt continued, is how white nationalists are borrowing a page from the GOP’s playbook, portraying liberal outrage over Carlson’s “great replacement” remarks as simply another example of “cancel culture” run amok.
“They’re trying to leverage the kind of reflexive support that’s been fostered in the GOP base for the last few years to back Tucker Carlson up on this message, which I fear would have the effect of giving people the impression that the ‘great replacement’ is not a third rail of politics that is soaked in the blood of decades of mass murders of minority communities.”
White nationalists love to talk about widening the “Overton window” — a term for the range of acceptable political discussion — to better include their vile ideas.
Steve Sailer, a longtime anti-immigration activist and neo-eugenicist, saw Carlson’s segment as a breakthrough.
“Tucker’s Overton Window-Smashing Broadside: ‘The Truth About Demographic Change’” was the headline of the article he published Tuesday on VDare, the white nationalist website.
Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters, fears that when it comes to the “great replacement,” the Overton window has been thrown wide open.
“What scares me is that Tucker Carlson was saying this stuff six years ago on Infowars, with Alex Jones,” Carusone said, referring to the far-right conspiracy theorist. Now, Carlson is talking about the “great replacement” on “Fox’s anchor program,” Carusone said.
“The part that’s so concerning and dangerous is that it’s an illustration of how what used to be so far removed from political power and relevancy is now centered,” he continued. “So that’s the part that I find alarming. It’s not just how much it’s moved, but it tells us where it’s going.”
Carlson has been laying the groundwork for decades to openly support the “great replacement” theory on Fox News, Carusone said, pointing to the ways in which he’s repeatedly fearmongered on air about immigrants “invading” the country, and about Black people forming armed gangs to roam white neighborhoods, among other examples.
Carusone and Media Matters have been at the forefront of documenting Carlson’s bigotry for years. This experience has led him to a conclusion he knows might sound unbelievable to some.
“Unless we interrupt that trend line and short circuit” what Carlson is doing, Carusone argued, “the inevitable end in all of this is what Carlson has been talking about for quite some time, which is a race war. That’s what this guy wants. It’s what he advocates for. It’s what he believes.”
Asked to clarify what he meant by “race war,” it was Carusone’s turn to double down.
“I mean that Tucker Carlson wants white people to start killing people of color,” he said. “And I know that sounds outrageous and terrifying, but I could back it up with a ton of receipts.”
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