Boarding school graduate Tucker Carlson, whose first job out of college was an editorial position at Policy Review, knows something about the relationship between demographics and destiny. His father was George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the Seychelles and ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as Voice of America. His stepmother is the heir to the Swanson frozen food fortune. From these beginnings, Tucker somehow found his way into broadcasting and conservative politics. Yesterday he interviewed Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in this capacity, discussing the congressman’s controversial tweet from this weekend. And he held King’s feet to the fire in his signature, hard-nosed style. Quote:
Everything you said is, I think defensible, and probably right. The problem with the [other peoples’ babies] tweet was it suggested a racial component of American identity.
Yeah, that was the problem, wasn’t it? Fortunately, the two men talked it over, and they agreed there was nothing racist about King’s tweet. Video after the jump.
“So what makes a nation?” Carlson asks by way of introduction. “Is it simply anyone who lives within the borders of a country, or is there something more to it?” The next six minutes are in exercise in agreeing there’s something more to it without ever specifying what that is. We know it relates to birth rates across “western civilization.” And we know immigration can’t make up for it. So it involves qualities that are transmitted from parent to child, and it’s not available to “somebody else’s babies.” Could it therefore have some racial component? King responds:
There’s a racial component to all discussion here in America, and there must be that, because the left is constantly pointing to the differences we have, and race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, and prosperity versus poverty, but I’ll say this: We are all God’s children. We are all created in his image, and America has been the most successful nation in merging these distinctions together on a common foundation of freedoms that come from God.
This is the problem with asking Rep. King a question. He’s pretty much incoherent. Notice the words “yes” or “no” do not appear his answer. Instead he says that everything is about race, because his opponents the left is always trying to divide people—not like he did when he used the phrase “somebody else’s babies.” He believes that we’re all God’s children, and we are joined together in the project of erasing nonwhite identities from the United States.
I guess that last part is my paraphrase. But you can’t simultaneously praise America as a melting pot and warn against an unspecified other. You don’t get to talk about “merging distinctions together” at the same time you prohibit immigration. Whatever the non-race thing King is talking about might be, it’s heritable and you can’t bring it to the United States from somewhere else.
I’m no ornithologist, but I’m going to identify the duck here and say that if it’s nation-specific and passes from parent to child, it’s probably race. You can call it culture or values or God-given rights, but that’s just substituting one vague concept for another. The thing all these undefined terms have in common—race, ethnicity, values, culture, civilization—is that we have them and other people don’t.
You can go on Fox News and equivocate forever about who those other people are, but they’re never white. White people are invariably part of the “we” Rep. King is talking about, no matter which “we” he means. Europeans aren’t American, but he includes them in our western civilization. He specifies that Israel is part of western civilization, even though it’s east of Egypt and located in the same place as all the non-western people he keeps warning us about. Meanwhile, the children of immigrants are American citizens, but he calls them “somebody else’s babies.”
But he’s not a racist. It’s weird that racial politics have been so successful lately, since we all agree that racism is bad. Carlson and King agree it’s bad. The first thing King does, when asked if he said something racist, is locate racism in his political opponents. It’s like sin that way: we’re all against it, and we’re all committed to ferreting it out among people who don’t agree with us.
Anyway, Carlson agrees with King that there’s nothing racist about pointing out all of these civilization-threatening, ill-defined problems that might be caused by any number of groups except white people. It’s weird that this high school graduate from rural Iowa and this hyper-rich scion of privilege from Los Angeles would find so much to agree on. You’d think that they wouldn’t have much in common. But that is the magic power of not being racists together.