If you listen to certain people, America doesn’t have a problem with racism. It doesn’t have a problem with sexism, or have a culture of sexual assault or rape. It doesn’t have a problem with bias and violence against immigrants, or on the basis of religion. These people argue that anyone who says that America is plagued with these problems is probably lying to you, that these problems are being grossly exaggerated to support a radical anti-white agenda. Proponents of these arguments are playing a game to be granted sympathy and gain leverage. They’re trying to tilt the playing field in their own favor.
This kind of view just happens to be fairly common among actual admitted and practicing white supremacists, even though many don’t think of themselves as “racist” and would deny it if you were to ask them. However they have many hard-core racist beliefs, commonly make racist statements, and implement and support racist policies where they can. These would be people like Donald Sterling, Paula Deen, Cliven Bundy, and Phil Robertson, along with their various fans.
According to a new book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, several of the leaders who hold these particular views, including close friends of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, happen to find strong support for their perspective on the air nightly at Fox News. And they feel the strongest public booster, the one who has been mainstreaming these racist perspectives, headlines the program hosted each night by Tucker Carlson.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eli Saslow recently released his new book Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, which documents the story of Derek Black, the son of Stormfront founder Don Black. He is also the godson of David Duke, and his family is closely acquainted with people such as Richard Spencer and Milo Yianopoulos. The book focuses on the story of Derek himself, who gradually and painfully turned away from the supremacist outlook he had been raised with, eventually becoming estranged from it and most of his family.
Saslow describes much of this process in an interview he granted with Amanda Marcotte at Salon. Within that interview, Saslow described his interview of the Black family, documenting the attitude and habits of Derek’s father Don Black, and his regular television viewing habits.
Marcotte: Tucker Carlson. Don Black and his wife really liked Tucker Carlson. Did that surprise you?
Saslow: It did surprise me, although it doesn’t anymore. Unfortunately, for this book I had to spend a bunch of time on Stormfront and places like it, they love Tucker Carlson. White nationalists, I would say, consider Tucker Carlson as one of their own. He carries the rhetoric of white nationalism into the public space in ways that nobody else does.
Don and Chloe [Hardin Black] not only watch his show but then re-watch it every night. They watch it twice.
Scarier for me was looking at Tucker Carlson’s ratings, and seeing that his show, in this moment, is crushingly popular. It’s the one broadcast that white nationalists hold dear, and also the most popular cable TV show going. I think that reveals some of our problems.
Marcotte: Yes. I was like, whoa. It didn’t surprise me that they watched him. It surprised me a little bit you would watch a cable news show twice in a row.
Saslow: The sense of grievance that he’s preying on is this idea that like, “Your America is being taken from you.” That’s exactly what white nationalists are saying all the time. I mean, Tucker Carlson might not say on the air, “White Americans, your America is being taken from you,” but it’s clear who he’s speaking to. Donald Trump does some of the same things.
For white nationalists, stuff like that is music to their ears. They’re constantly trying provoke white people to action, get them to embrace this idea that your country is disappearing. You are now in danger. That there’s a white genocide, you’re a threatened species. That’s basically what Tucker Carlson’s entire show is about.
White genocide. Your America is being taken from you. It’s disappearing. Those people are taking it away. That does pretty much describe Carlson’s show. For example, he recently argued on his program that white supremacy was nothing more than a liberal myth.
Carlson stated “White supremacy is not ubiquitous in America, it’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category. It is incredibly rare,” he declared, claiming that the country that legalized slavery and had Jim Crow laws in many states until 1964 is “a generous, tolerant country” and has “always has been that.”
“People who tell you otherwise are either delusional or trying to control you with fear, likely both,” he concluded.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by anti-racist organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Tucker Carlson probably has been the No. 1 commentator mainstreaming bedrock principles of white nationalism in this country, which is fear of immigrants, fear of Muslims, keeping them out and arguing that whites are under attack,” said Heidi Beirich, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.
“What white supremacy is about is keeping this country white,” she continued, saying that was “exactly the sentiment” Carlson consistently promotes on his show, “the idea that the demographics are shifting in a bad way.”
Beirich added that the rhetoric on Carlson’s show, as well as on Laura Ingraham’s program later in the Fox News evening lineup, has grown so extreme that “the views of Richard Spencer have become mainstream, at least on the right.”
This is not new. Carlson has previously made similar arguments, dating as far back as 2014.
During an interview on Fox News, Carlson noted that conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter had been criticized for a recent column claiming what people thought was white privilege was “just me being better than you.”
“I mean, it’s silly on its face,” the Fox News host opined. “Some white people are privileged, some aren’t. Some black people are, some aren’t. It strikes me as, by definition, a racist attack in that it’s making a generalization — a negative one — based on skin color.”
For these people just bringing up the subject of race and the potential of racial privilege is itself “racist.” This is very much in keeping with the similar arguments from former Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly, who was forced off of the network due to numerous sexual harassment allegations. He practically snapped Kirsten Powers’ head off when she dared to say “a lot of people in America are racist.”
So how many black friends do you have?” Powers asked. “How many black friends do you have?”
O’Reilly’s hand could be heard slapping the desk before he said, “If you think most Americans are racist, I’m ashamed of you. I’m ashamed of you.”
“I’m asking you a serious question,” Powers said. “I didn’t say most Americans were racist.”
“You just said it,” he shot back.
But what Powers actually told him was, “There are actually a lot of people in this country who are racist.” Both O’Reilly and fellow panelist Monica Crowley argued that racism had been limited to the “lunatic fringe” of the country.
O’Reilly, who has denied the existence of white privilege in the past, argued that people were being “sold” the idea that the U.S. is dealing with white supremacy.
“If you don’t get it, then you must be living in a hut somewhere with no electricity,” he told Powers.
“I’m living in the real world where you can actually defend America and people don’t attack you,” Powers replied. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. You’re saying that you can’t defend America without people attacking you?”
“I’m saying that the world is being told by anti-American haters that we are a rank racist society, and that is a lie,” he said.
Yeah, so that happened. It’s not about “most Americans being racist.” That’s not the issue or the question. But the fact is that many Americans have common cause and share policy goals with racists. They may not swear allegiance to David Duke, but they agree with all of David Duke’s policy goals, just as Donald Trump does. Duke himself claims he’s not a racist, and he says Trump isn’t a racist … but they both support what are ultimately racist ideas and goals.
“I think that those Republicans, or those so-called conservatives, they are betraying the principles of the Republican Party and certainly conservatism,” Duke said. “Donald Trump is not a racist. And the truth is in this country if you simply defend the heritage of European American people then you’re automatically a racist.”
Donald Trump has to run his own campaign; I have to run my own campaign,” he said.
“I don’t know if he’s with me or not but I would hope that he and others would realize that the same lies they make about him is what they say about me,” he said. “I’ve always said that I’m for equal rights for all people, but I also believe that European-Americans shouldn’t be facing discrimination either.
We’ve already polled inside the Trump voters, and we know that we’re going to carry 75 to 80 percent of those who are going to vote for Trump,” he said.
Steve asked, “You think Trump voters are your voters?”
“Well, of course they are!” Duke said. “Because I represent the ideas of preserving this country and the heritage of this country, and I think Trump represents that as well.”
Another example of Carlson’s mainstreaming of racism can be seen when he argued with a Mexican-American journalist that tacos aren’t really “Mexico food.” While questioning whether he would be chased out of a Mexican restaurant for supporting Trump’s racist border policies (like Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Neilsen was earlier this year) he claimed that “tacos are American food,” and he would know because he’s from San Diego.
“Tacos are American Food, not Mexican. They’re mine — I’m from San Diego.”
Carlson of course runs his own “news” site, the Daily Caller, which has itself trafficked in many more of these types of racist tropes, including the ridiculous claim that white farmers in South Africa are being targeted and killed by blacks. Trump picked up on this non-story after seeing it reported by Tucker and then asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into it, even though the U.S. Embassy in South Africa has already slapped this conspiracy theory down.
Over a week ago, Trump tweeted, “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers,’” after seeing a report by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.Over a week ago, Trump tweeted, “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers,’” after seeing a report by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
According to Foreign Policy, which obtained a secret cable sent by the embassy to the White House, the embassy explicitly spelled out that murders are, in fact, decreasing.
While it does name Trump, the cable appears to be in response to the false narrative the president put forward.
Titled “Despite Crime Epidemic, Farm Murders Down,” the cable details statistics on murder rates on white-owned South African farms, stating, “Some journalists and lobby groups have simplified complex land disputes to serve their own ends.”
Not to be totally outdone by Carlson, there have also been virulently bigoted rants from the host of his follow-up program. Laura Ingraham has attacked Lebron James for supporting the protests inspired by Colin Kaepernick, and also claimed in classic alt-Reich fashion that “America is disappearing.”
“In some parts of the country it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Ingraham continued. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.
“Now much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration that of course progressives love,” she added.
Ingraham went on to argue that Democrats oppose enforcing immigration laws, which is harming the country. She called for improved border security, the end of sanctuary city policies and the closure of immigration loopholes.
None of us can really fault a legitimate effort to create more and better border security. None of us think it’s wrong to vet those entering legally for a criminal history, or to limit those entering illegally. The difference is that generally those of us on the left would like to simplify and reform the entry requirements to make them less onerous, and those on the right and alt-Reich just don’t want certain people to be able to come in at all—legally or not.
The claim that Democrats don’t care about this is simply false as demonstrated by the fact that at its height in 2012, the Obama Administration deported nearly twice as many undocumented, criminal aliens (409,000) as Trump did within his first year (226,000).
Obama’s priority had been criminals, which were the highest percentage of his focus. His priority was safety and security. But with Trump that simply hasn’t been the case, as he has been using the strategies outlined by his bigoted aides Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions.
In 2015, he and his aide, now Senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, drafted a document that laid out a plan to end not only illegal immigration but put a stop to all legal immigration as well, arguing that the country could not “absorb” any more people from other cultures. It pointed to the 1924 Immigration Act, which curbed immigration of most non-whites, Catholics, Jews, Arabs, southern Italians for several decades, as its model. From the moment Sessions signed on with Trump (and subsequently submitted to Trump’s ongoing ritual humiliation of him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation), it has been clear that he did so because he saw the best opportunity he’s ever had to advance this nativist and racist agenda.
Sessions and Miller laid out their agenda quite clearly in their document.
The last four decades have witnessed the following: a period of record, uncontrolled immigration to the United States; a dramatic rise in the number of persons rhieceiving welfare; and a steep erosion in middle class wages.
But the only “immigration reforms” discussed in Washington are those pushed by interest groups who want to remove what few immigration controls are left in order to expand the record labor supply even further.
The principal economic dilemma of our time is the very large number of people who either are not working at all, or not earning a wage great enough to be financially independent. The surplus of available labor is compounded by the loss of manufacturing jobs due to global competition and reduced demand for workers due to automation. What sense does it make to continue legally importing millions of low-wage workers to fill jobs while sustaining millions of current residents on welfare?
We need make no apology in rejecting an extreme policy of sustained mass immigration, which the public repudiates and which the best economic evidence tells us undermines wage growth and economic mobility. Here again, the dialect operates in reverse: the “hardliners” are those who refuse even the most modest immigration controls on the heels of four decades of large-scale immigration flows (both legal and illegal), and increased pressures on working families.
They falsely claim that they only want to stop “illegal” immigration but their policies have gone far, far beyond that into illegally arresting legitimate asylum seekers in violation of U.S. and international law, separating them from their children, and accelerating their deportation by deception and intimidation while their children languish in detention centers scattered around the nation.
“Criminalizing and stigmatizing parents who are only trying to keep their children from harm and give them a safe upbringing will cause untold damage to thousands of traumatized families who have already given up everything to flee terrible circumstances in their home countries,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“Prying infant children from their parents’ arms as they seek asylum is a flagrant violation of their human rights. Doing so in order to push asylum seekers back into dangerous situations where they may face persecution is also a violation of U.S. obligations under refugee law.”
Amnesty International has documented U.S. immigration agents forcibly separating families of asylum seekers, even when they have proof of their family relationships and the persecution that they have fled. The long-term detention of asylum seekers is widely documented to negatively affect both their psychological well-being and their ability to lodge asylum claims under U.S. law.
The law on this is fairly clear.
In the ashes of World War II, the international community came together to create a response to the refugee crisis created by persecution, war and genocide. Remembering the visa barriers and other immigration control measures that prevented refugees from escaping Nazi Germany, the 1951 Refugee Treaty set forth clear obligations on nations where refugees flee to seek safe haven.
The treaty defines refugees as people with a well-founded fear of persecution and requires nations to refrain from returning refugees to lands where their lives or freedom are threatened.
Recognizing that refugees often must flee their homelands on short notice without obtaining travel documents, the Refugee Treaty forbids countries from imposing penalties on refugees on account of illegal entry so long as they present themselves promptly to authorities and show good cause for their unauthorized entry.
To repeat: the U.S. law relevant to the treaty which was ratified by the Congress in 1968 forbids countries from imposing penalties on refugees on account of illegal entry.
Penalizing people who may cross the border without proper papers in order to escape persecution is. a. crime. It violates U.S. law, it violates the Constitution under our treaty obligations, and it violates international law.
Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Neilsen signed off on a “zero tolerance” policy that she knew would separate children from their parents. Government officials not only didn’t have a plan in place to handle the additional load on the system, they didn’t even inform or request input from the relevant agencies about whether they could safely handle the increased capacity.
The memo calls for the criminal prosecution of parents who cross the border and states that Homeland Security can “permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted.” Equally important, the memo makes no provisions for family reunification. As Open the Government observes, “the memo does not discuss any plan for reuniting separated families, or the harmful effects of separation on children, nor does it reflect any input from the government agencies who would be responsible for caring for the separated children.”
To date, 182 children remain separated from their parents, despite a court order demanding reunification. As Esquire’s Jack Holmes notes, the new document shows that Nielsen likely lied, and also suggests that reunification or mitigating the effects of the separation policy were not high on the administration’s agenda.
This was not necessary. This was not an unforeseen by-product of their “zero tolerance” policy. This cruelty was the goal, and these human rights abuses were part of the “deterrence” they wish to create to frighten anyone—even those seeking to escape rape, death threats, domestic violence, and gangs—from being able to legally seek asylum in the U.S.
Just as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to take unnecessarily aggressive and illegal action on immigration, he’s also decided to take no action or to literally move backward when it comes to civil rights abuses by local police departments.
But on March 31, Sessions issued what many lawyers for the Justice Department saw as the coup de grâce to its police reform efforts. “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies,” the attorney general wrote in an agency-wide memorandum, which ordered a review of contemplated consent decrees. He expanded on his thinking in an Op-Ed in USA Today: “We will not sign consent decrees for political expediency that will cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of the criminals.”
Sessions has argued that the Black Lives Matter movement and ACLU’s efforts in opposition to policies such as “stop and frisk” will lead to “more deaths.”
After blaming the end of stop-and-frisk for a rise in Chicago’s murder rate after the ACLU issued a report about the practice, Sessions drew a correlation between the civil rights group and others for “shootings and death.”
“There’s a clear lesson here: if you want more shootings and more death, then listen to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or Antifa,” the attorney general said. “If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been studying this for 35 years.”
Sessions drew his conclusion from federal prosecutor Zachary Fardon, who claimed that if cops “go talk to those kids on the corner, you’re going to have to take 40 minutes to fill out a form, and you’re going to have to give them a receipt with your badge number on it.”
In an open letter to the city, Fardon insisted “the city was on fire” because “the rule of law [and] law enforcement had been delegitimized.
These tropes keep coming back again and again, but they are false.
The crime and murder rate in New York City is at its lowest rate since the 1950s in the aftermath of having “Stop and Frisk” stopped by an ACLU lawsuit.
It would have seemed unbelievable in 1990, when there were 2,245 killings in New York City, but as of Wednesday there have been just 286 in the city this year — the lowest since reliable records have been kept.
In fact, crime has fallen in New York City in each of the major felony categories — murder and manslaughter, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, grand larceny, and car thefts — to a total of 94,806 as of Sunday, well below the previous record low of 101,716 set last year.
Crime is also down in Chicago without the draconian types of jackboot measures which have been suggested by both Sessions and Trump.
Homicides are down in Chicago by about 25 percent compared to 2016 and 2017, years when the city was hit with its worst violence in about two decades, according to data kept by the Tribune.
The number of people shot in 2018 is down about 30 percent from the past two years. But as with homicides, shootings continue to outpace victims from 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Tribune figures show.
However, the rate of hate crimes has risen dramatically.
Though relatively rare, hate crimes have seen an increase in cities across the USA. In California alone, the number spiked 44 percent between 2014 and 2017, up to 1,093 hate crimes last year, the state’s attorney general’s office reported last week.
The total number of hate crimes in the 10 largest cities in America jumped in 2017, marking four straight years for an uptick in such incidents.
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University found a 12.5 percent increase in incidents reported by police last year in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego and San Jose, California.
The bigoted rhetoric spewed by Trump, O’Reilly, Carlson, Ingraham, Sessions, and Neilsen has enabled these divisive and dangerous policies to be implemented. Meanwhile, those who claim they “aren’t racist” and are nothing like David Duke or Don Black are celebrating in triumph as their racism is made manifest.
Fortunately, there is an upside to this story. It shows exactly why these people are so afraid and fighting so hard against any an all efforts to promote diversity. In his book on Derek Black, Eli Saslow documents how Derek’s experiences in college with a diverse and varied group of classmates were eventually able to pull off the scales from his eyes which had been placed there by his friends and family who were swimming in a stew of white supremacy, grievance, and privilege
Those interactions changed him, and he turned away from nationalism and supremacy as a result.
Manacotte: Derek’s journey took a long time and a huge amount of pressure from others, though. What does that say to you about what it takes to change somebody’s mind about an issue like this?
Saslow: In Derek’s case, it took a ton. White nationalism was the foundational part of his identity, and also his family. The costs for him were high. He was going to lose a family, his identity, and every relationship he’d made in the first 22 years of life, by walking away from it. I think it was harder for him to change than other people, because he’d invested so much in believing in it.I wish I could say, after reporting the book, that I feel like, “Oh, it’s pretty easy to just sort of have a few good conversations with somebody and really impact their thinking about ideas like this.” I don’t think that’s true.
One of the things I found really interesting is how many different tactics people in Derek’s life used to try to bring him to the other side. Students on campus who were really effective in sort of civil resistance. They decided once they knew who Derek was, like, we’re going to protest his presence on campus. We’re going to shut down the school. We’re going to really make him feel shunned and unwelcomed here.
That was really effective. They cast Derek out from campus, and put him in a slightly more vulnerable position. I think he did start to see how horrible his views were and how scary they were to other people.
Manacotte: What struck me reading your book was how much identity was at the center of it. How it was about family, community, sense of belonging. His transformation seemed, in no small part, to be due to the fact that he created a new social circle, a new community, on campus.
Saslow: I think that’s definitely true. Derek had, in a way, this very typical college experience: Broken away from his family, moving to a different place, spending time with other people and just engaging with other parts of the world. It was totally essential.
For Derek, his life before college was so insular. He was spending time just with other white nationalists. That was his family. That was who he went on vacations with. He hadn’t spent a lot of time before with, for instance, a Jewish student.
Despite years of direct indoctrination, despite literally growing up in a family of racists, Derek eventually—and with some difficulty—decided to change his view. He decided to expand his perspective and rather than simply accept the stereotypes and tropes he had indoctrinated with, gradually learned to understand the people in front of him as they come. He chose to appreciate them as individuals, just as he preferred to be appreciated as an individual and not simply a generic cipher representing all the worst aspects of the people he could be associated with.
Being among other students from diverse backgrounds was ultimately good for Derek and expanded his knowledge. It was not just a token benefit, or a matter of minority students meeting quotas.
There is the possibility for change, and there is the possibility for growth.
We can make a better future and a better America than we’ve had before, but we have to take on that journey together. We have to confront each other, and we have to admit our own faults and our opponent’s strengths.
Rather than simply reject each other and fall back into neutral corners of separation and segregation, we have to do better, and we will if we are as courageous as Derek and his classmates have been. We can rise out of the hatred and climb above the fear. But we first have to admit that the hatred is there and the wounds are there. Then and only then can we begin to heal.
Everyone working together and getting along is what the racists like Carlson truly, deeply fear. It’s about time we gave it to them.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.