Tucker Carlson's insecurity and the "great replacement" theory

Tucker Carlson and his white supremacist allies are going to be replaced by a generation repelled by his ideology

By Heather Digby Parton


Published April 12, 2021 10:00AM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson (Getty/Rich Polk)
Tucker Carlson (Getty/Rich Polk)

Tucker Carlson's at it again.

As Salon's Kaity Assaf reported last week, the unctuous Fox News host delivered more grotesque, racist commentary last week, this time explicitly endorsing the hardcore white supremacist "great replacement" theory on his top-rated TV show. Throwing it out there in a discussion of the assault on voting rights around the country Carlson said, "the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate" with "new people, more obedient voters from the Third World." It's a line Carlson has been called out for before.

Back in 2019, in the wake of the mass murder of mostly Latinos at an El Paso Walmart by a violent racist who quoted great replacement theories in his manifesto, Carlson declared that "white supremacy" is "a hoax" that is "used to divide the country and keep a hold on power." I wrote then about Carlson's affinity for the belief system that inspired the killing and explained the crude fundamentals of the theory:

[T]he "Great Replacement" theory is a big deal among white nationalists worldwide. Essentially it comes down to two intersecting ideas. They believe that "the west" is threatened by immigrants from non-white countries resulting in white people being "replaced." And the whole thing is part of a secret Jewish conspiracy to rule a one-race world. The Fox News "mainstream" American version doesn't fully embrace the second idea, at least not publicly. But they are all-in on the first one, cleverly couching it in partisan political terms as a Democratic Party strategy to deny Republicans (who are, as we all know, nearly all white) their God-given right to be a majority of this country.

You can see why so many Jewish groups were appalled by Carlson repeating his comments again last week, this time blithely insisting that "left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term 'replacement.'"  Yes, people do get a little bit upset when major TV celebrities use their platform to sell anti-Semitic drivel to their viewers.

The Anti-Defamation League demanded that Carlson be fired, but there is no word yet as to whether any action will be taken. Just because these toxic beliefs have influenced the recent mass murderers at an El Paso Walmart, a Pittsburgh synagogue and a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, along with the Nazi marchers in Charlottesville Virginia who were literally chanting "Jews will not replace us" apparently doesn't mean that Fox News has a responsibility to not spread them further.

It's important to note here that the gunman in El Paso also criticized corporations, which made many observers scratch their heads at the time, but it shouldn't have. White supremacists who believe in the great replacement theory consider corporations enemies, but not for economic populist reasons, as I wrote at the time of the Walmart shooting:

They see anti-corporatism and environmentalism as necessary to save Western civilization, not because corporations are sucking the life from working people and killing the planet but because corporations and climate change are creating conditions that make brown and Black people migrate to countries with predominantly white populations. And among the "ecofascist" alt-right and the neo-Nazis, environmentalism is based upon reverence for "the land of your people" which explains the Charlottesville marchers chanting the Nazi slogan "Blood and Soil." Carlson hasn't gone that far but these people are all walking in the same direction.

Carlson's recent rant also tied the great replacement into one of the hoariest, right-wing tropes of all: the insistence that the only reason Democrats want to have humane immigration laws is that they believe immigrants will vote for them and make it impossible for so-called real Americans to be represented in "their own country." He said, "if you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter."

That's right. The people who are moving heaven and earth to suppress voting all over the country in the wake of Donald Trump's Big Lie, are being disenfranchised by voters who don't look like them. People like Carlson and Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham have been selling this line forever, but it is finding new life being tied in with the great replacement.

The funny thing is that as ridiculous as it is to believe that immigrants are "replacing" real Americans in a country where the only people in it who aren't the descendants of immigrants or trafficked African slaves are Native Americans, there actually is a sort of great replacement going on —but it's coming from within the country.

Those corporations the white supremacists hate for creating the conditions that incentivize migration have responded to the tax incentives offered by conservative states and have relocated there, bringing a bunch of those loathsome progressive social values with them. It's one of the reasons some of those former red states have been turning purple. And the recent corporate activism on voting rights has been driven at least in part by the last few decades of diversity in hiring which means that many of them have high-level Black and Hispanic executives who bring their own experiences to the job and they are influencing policy. The Texas Monthly reported that the state GOP is becoming quite agitated by the influx of Californians who have recently invaded their state. Tucker Carlson is agitated about it too:

In December, [Governor Greg Abbott] made a comical appearance on Tucker Carlson's popular Fox News show. Carlson, a San Francisco–born, San Diego–raised pundit, congratulated Abbott, who grew up in Wichita Falls and Longview, on Texas's population growth. But why, Carlson wondered, had Abbott let in so many coastal elites?

Above a characteristically calm chyron—"The Next California: Onlookers Horrified by Recent Texas Trends"—Carlson argued that Californians would be the death of Texas. "We've seen this across the country, where people flee a collapsing, crummy state and then wreck the state they go to," he said. "Are you worried that all these Californians will bring their values and degrade the state of Texas?"

Apparently, the great replacement isn't just a threat that immigrants are going to replace God-fearing real Americans. Californians (as well as residents of other blue states, of course) are also threatening to replace God-fearing real Americans by moving to their states and "degrading" the place with their presence. What do you suppose Carlson has in mind to put a stop to that?

The fact is that we are all going to be "replaced" by the generations that come up behind us. And I'm afraid that Tucker Carlson and his white supremacist allies are going to be replaced by a generation that is overwhelmingly repelled by his ideology and everything it stands for. That, of course, will be really, really great.  

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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Commentary Fox News Tucker Carlson White Nationalism White Resentment White Supremacy