COMMENTARY

Let's talk about Tucker Carlson's obsession with "legacy Americans"

Sure, Tucker's fave new term is an unsubtle euphemism for "white folks." But it's even more revealing than that

Published May 23, 2022 6:00AM (EDT)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Fox News host Tucker Carlson (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Yes, Tucker Carlson, you are allowed to ask the question about whether diversity makes us stronger.

The answer, as the vast majority of us in America see it, is yes. 

The "melting pot" metaphor for immigrants coming to America still holds, though these days we require less melting of what makes each person's native culture unique. Don't worry, Tucker. The people who come to this country want desperately to be here and would outperform most of "legacy Americans" you are so obsessed with in true patriotism and knowledge about civics and our history.

RELATED: Fox News exploits Buffalo shooting to further radicalize Republicans

How is diversity a good thing? Let us count the ways:

  • In biology, the genetic push toward diversity is the natural law. (You probably have to pretend not to believe in evolution, I realize. We'll keep that between us.)
  • In agriculture, our monoculture approach to farming created great gains for the food supply but has set us up to fail in numerous ways, in terms of soil depletion and crop failures. Diversity is good.
  • As we have seen recently, having too few companies producing baby formula can lead to shortages. I shouldn't have to tell a Republican this, but competition (i.e., diversity) in business is good for everybody: It keeps companies on their toes and compels them to innovate, and for consumers it means better products, more efficient services and lower prices).
  • We are constantly advised that diversity in an investment portfolio (as a true elite like you, Tucker, must have learned in the cradle) is highly desirable.
  • In the tweet I linked to above, you insist that diversity in families does not make us stronger. Gosh, that's an incredibly reductive view of complex family dynamics. The differences between mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers (if one is lucky enough to have siblings) are to be treasured. We learn so much about the world and our lives from the varied personalities and interests of our family members. We are often saved by them.
  • Much of the corporate world is actively working on increasing inclusion and diversity among employees, not just in order to attract the best and brightest (although that's important), but also to bring in different insights into customers and frames of reference. They are not, however, at this time seeking hateful points of view. So you and the bigots you entertain every night — and even certain state governors — are howling mad about this turn of events. (Don't look now, but your own corporate heads are at least paying lip service to this diversity stuff. That may be a way to cover their asses, legally and otherwise, for the ceaseless pandering of their on-air hosts to white nationalists and other bigots.)

In many older neighborhoods around the country, built in an era when we still believed in ourselves and the ideals of America, you can find a diversity of economic class apparent even in the architecture and urban design, with houses of different sizes and styles all mixed together. Most of that construction happened before the time when we were actively taught to fear each other, before the era of gated communities and mini-mansions (though not before the institution of redlining, which kept people of color from moving into those charming neighborhoods — something you don't want taught in schools). Poet Carl Sandburg famously called Chicago the "City of Big Shoulders," and once upon a time America was a country where various levels of middle-class and working people literally lived shoulder to shoulder.


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My wife and I were drawn to such a neighborhood (Tuxedo Park in Webster Groves, Missouri), when we were starting out as parents. We swallowed hard and purchased what seemed an impossibly-priced small bungalow there and for years were able to walk our young daughters around a lovely neighborhood with sidewalks and a lot of architectural interest. It was a place where young couples could start out, people in mid-career could move into larger homes, and retired people could downsize to stay in an area they loved.

"Legacy Americans" sounds a lot like "legacy admissions," meaning the kids who get into Harvard or Yale or Stanford not because they worked hard and earned it, but purely on the privilege of birth.

Let's talk about those "legacy Americans" you so often extol — meaning white people of European descent, and at least a couple of generations away from being, you know, immigrants. It seems likely you have borrowed that term from legacy admissions to colleges and universities. Those are the kids who get a leg up in admissions to Harvard or Yale or Stanford, not because they earned those spots with their sterling grades and inspiring extracurricular activities but because at least one of their parents is an alumnus. One of the things one learns at these schools of higher learning is that legacy admissions are just another manifestation of privilege, a key that opens up a different kind of gated community. 

But privilege is what drives members of the elite classes like you, Tucker, to cry like a small boy about other people having the opportunity to come to this country to find a better life, to control their own bodies, to have their votes count. 

In your definition of "legacy Americans," do you include those who are descendants of people bound in slavery during our first centuries as a country?

You no doubt admire successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, as many of us do. But we know that the next generation often fails to meet the challenge. They have grown up in the midst of plenty and may not have the hunger for that kind of success, or the same success. Such an organization may better thrive in new (non-legacy) hands. Besides, who needs all the infighting? Think "King Lear," or, say, Logan Roy.

By the way, Tucker, are the young white males shooting down citizens in the street, in grocery stores and in places of worship examples of your "legacy Americans"? Kyle Rittenhouse, who traveled across state lines in August 2020 to "protect businesses" in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests and riots were occurring after police shot Jacob Blake seven times, certainly became much celebrated. He was invited to CPAC and got a standing ovation. (The Onion had a good take on that.) Will you celebrate this latest one, too: The young man who drove more than 200 miles to Buffalo to murder people he had never met, who had done him no harm? He was less a "lone wolf" than a young dog held in a filthy pen of hateful rhetoric and trained to brutality, in large part, by your words.

As Salon's Amanda Marcotte writes, you have already spun this one to blame Democrats for the violence caused by your own promotion of the "great replacement" theory, with its deep antisemitic conspiracy-mongering history, and to twist your blatant racism as a "dangerous truth." I would ask how it's possible that Fox News has not been taken off the public airwaves for inciting domestic terrorism, but I realize that given the current state of American jurisprudence, it's a pointless question.

But here's a question for you, Tucker. You keep going on about how males in America are losing their sense of manhood. Is it a sign of manliness to forever be so afraid, to quake and quail in fear of others, to go on national television every night bleating, whining and complaining? Is this red-faced, pedantic, perennially disgruntled display of yours something you genuinely think America's young men should mirror to get their collective mojo back?

If you are merely play-acting these emotions, on the other hand, how manly is that? 

We had daughters, and they know the score, when it comes to guys like you. If I had a son, I would sit him down as soon as he was old enough to understand concepts like grifting and fascism and shameless hypocrisy and tell him what Fox News is and what you do. Tucker, you rake in a reported $4 million a month saying things you may or may not believe and teaching Americans to hate other Americans in your ongoing work to undermine the American experiment in democracy. Patriotism, Samuel Johnson said, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. You were exactly what he meant.

Read more on Tucker Carlson, Fox News and the aftermath of Buffalo:


By Kirk Swearingen

Kirk Swearingen is a poet and independent journalist. He is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, and his work has appeared in Delmar, MARGIE, Bloom, the American Journal of Poetry, Riverfront Times, Medium and Salon.

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Buffalo Shooting Commentary Fox News Great Replacement Media Racism Tucker Carlson