Tucker Carlson is using the Atlanta spa shootings to downplay anti-Asian racism and white supremacy

Fox News' top host has been busy trying to blame Black people for a rise in violence against Asian-Americans

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published March 19, 2021 4:28PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson (Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)
Tucker Carlson (Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

On Thursday, Fox News' Tucker Carlson attempted to attribute black Americans to the rise in anti-Asian violence despite the surge of white supremacist terror in the U.S.

"Asian Americans do suffer quite a few violent attacks in this country, unfortunately," he said, "but there is zero evidence that a rise in white supremacy is driving those attacks."

"We don't have to guess about this because the Justice Department keeps the numbers," he continued, "According to federal statistics, African American perpetrators are more likely than any other group to attack Asian Americans. It happens quite a bit."

Carlson's remarks come in response to suspicions that Tuesday's shooting in Atlanta –– in which a white conservative male targeted three Asian spas, killing six Asian workers –– was a racially-motivated hate crime. 

Despite evidence that the perpetrator, Robert Aaron Long, 21, specifically targeted Asian salons, Carlson adduced the testimony of Long's former roommate from rehab, who advanced the claim that Long's killing spree stemmed from his struggles with sex addiction.

"Robert Long seemed deranged," Carlson argued, "But his obsessive and violent behavior seems all too familiar if you follow the news closely."

Carlson also took issue with why "there is so much prostitution in Atlanta, openly," citing how there are more spas in Atlanta than Starbucks outlets. However, Carlson provided no direct evidence –– despite his seeming love for it the term –– that a substantial prostitution in Atlanta occurs in spas. Instead, he cited the issue of human trafficking in Georgia at large. 

"Violence in this country," he continued, "occurs within racial groups [...] The only exception we found in the federal numbers were from Asian Americans. Asians are more likely to be attacked by African Americans than by members of their own ethnicity."

Carlson also accused Democrats and the mainstream media of scapegoating white supremacism as a way to curry votes amongst minorities in advance of the 2020 election.

According to a Stop AAPI Hate report, 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents –– most of them directed at women –– were reported over the course of this year during the pandemic, a marked jump from last year's count of 2,600. According to the Anti-Defamation League, incidents of white supremacism have also skyrocketed by 120 percent over 2019.

"It is always wrong to blame an entire group for anything, ever," continued Carlson. Carlson's viewpoint is largely characteristic of much of the right-wing discourse surrounding the shooting, which has tried to frame Long as a troubled individual plagued by his own mental illness. However, as Brookings fellow Rashawan Ray put on Thursday:  "America over-individualizes and normalizes domestic terror incidents, particularly when committed by white men."

Ray cited, for instance, the excuse-making of Sheriff Captain Jay Baker of Cherokee County Police Department, which arrested Long. "Yesterday was a really bad day for him," Baker said, "and this is what he did."

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Fox News Tucker Carlson White Supremacy