Tucker Carlson and the Question of White Victimhood
Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, January 11, 2019
The conservative movement is uniquely hobbled. First, its supposed leaders are less committed and militant than its followers. Second, it may be the only political movement in America that tries to dissuade followers from productive action, rather than inspiring them to fight. This explains why prominent conservatives are attacking Tucker Carlson for his powerful monologue blasting America’s governing establishment.
Mr. Carlson criticized Mitt Romney for his recent Washington Post op-ed against President Donald Trump, but the attack was a springboard for a larger critique of America’s elite. He suggested that unwavering support for a “finance-based economy” and an “internationalist foreign policy” is destroying the country. “Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot,” declared Mr. Carlson.
Instead of focusing on increasing the quantity of “stuff,” Mr. Carlson suggested “happiness” is a better goal for national policy. However, America’s leaders are indifferent to the well-being of its citizens.
We’re ruled by mercenaries who feel no permanent obligation to the people they rule . . . they’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game and it shows. They can’t solve our problems, they don’t even bother to understand our problems.
Mr. Carlson argued there is a direct connection between economic policy and the health of families. He said that families are collapsing both among black, inner-city Democrats and white, rural Republicans. “Stunning out-of-wedlock birthrates, high male unemployment, a terrifying drug epidemic,” Mr. Carlson added, describing some of the problems Americans face. Meanwhile, our rulers either don’t see problems or just ignore them: “It’s easier to import foreign labor to take the place of native-born Americans who are slipping behind.”
Mr. Carlson made no explicit defense of white interests. However, he did highlight the racial caste system embedded in the American government and economy: “They hand out jobs and contracts and scholarships and slots at prestigious universities based purely on how we look.” “There’s nothing less fair then that,” he added, “though our tax code comes close.”
Mr. Carlson said Republicans should oppose “some people getting special treatment” with “everything they have.” He argued Americans should want “a fair country” and a “cohesive country,” “a country you might recognize when you’re old.” “A clean, orderly stable country that respects itself.” He concluded by warning that though libertarians and some conservatives may charge that any kind of intervention in the economy is “socialism,” socialism is likely to be what Americans will get “very soon” unless the American Right grapples with the real problems people face.
In response, several conservative or libertarian critics accused Mr. Carlson of promoting victimhood politics. They instead propose something best called “anti-politics,” arguing that Americans should not mobilize against the establishment because people are responsible for their own problems. Using the state to pursue private interests is mistaken or even immoral.
David French wrote:
Carlson is advancing a form of victim-politics populism that takes a series of tectonic cultural changes — civil rights, women’s rights, a technological revolution as significant as the industrial revolution, the mass-scale loss of religious faith, the sexual revolution, etc. — and turns the negative or challenging aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you. . . . While these policies and cultural trends may create impediments to personal success, these impediments are speedbumps — not impenetrable barriers.
Mr. French denounces the creation of a “victim class of angry citizens” and writes that “we must not make them feel helpless when they are not helpless.” “The problem with populism — and indeed with much of American politics — is that it focuses on the political at the expense of the personal,” he concludes. (One is tempted to ask why Mr. French is a political writer and not a preacher.)
Similarly, Ben Shapiro, a self-appointed commissar of the American Right, argued that Tucker Carlson was trying to “fill a gap in the soul with a policy-based solution.” In response to Mr. Carlson calling free markets a “tool” rather than a “religion,” Mr. Shapiro responded, “That sounds far more like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than it does like Ronald Reagan or Milton Friedman.” He denounced European style politics, a “fight between populists who wish to hijack government for their own ends and Leftists who wish to hijack government for theirs.” If we can’t maintain “virtue,” Mr. Shapiro states, “we’re part of the problem,” and this can’t be blamed on “tariffs,” “payday lenders,” or anyone else.
Finally, Timothy Sandefur at Reason suggested that Mr. Carlson’s monologue embraced “populist authoritarianism.” He wrote that “cheaper consumer goods have benefited Americans immeasurably” and implied Mr. Carlson is one of “freedom’s enemies” for sneering at their importance. “Carlson’s prescription is clear: government management of the economy in order to force citizens into what politicians consider ‘happiness,’” wrote Mr. Sandefur. He quoted Mussolini’s conception of man’s nature — that he must be part of a family, social group, and nation — implicitly suggesting Mr. Carlson is veering towards fascism. He praised the economic “freedom” of women and condemned Mr. Carlson for questioning it, called freedom the “rightful, natural state of all persons,” and finally asserted that it can never be “transcended.”
All these criticisms lead to the same practical conclusion — American rightists should not pursue or use state power to impose a certain social order. A corollary is that Americans, by being “virtuous” and hardworking, can still succeed. Engagement in politics should be restricted to rolling back state intervention.
One key problem with all of this is that “the personal is political.” There is no firm line separating the “public” from the “private,” especially when federal and state governments are now directly involved in the lives of almost every citizen. Thanks to “civil rights” laws and “nondiscrimination,” every white person in the country can have his life turned inside-out if a member of a protected class decides to sue or if a bureaucrat announces some new reform. Regardless of whether they are “hard-working” or “virtuous,” people’s lives are affected.
- To fight “disparate impact,” the federal government issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” threatening federal investigations of schools that didn’t lower disciplinary standards for black students. The result was widespread collapse in school discipline and great suffering for students.
- Jack Phillips, a cake shop owner in Colorado, has been repeatedly targeted by homosexual rights activists and civil rights bureaucrats. Since Mr. Phillips is not a member of a protected class and his adversaries are, he is always on the defensive in the resulting legal battles.
- Around the country, homeowners risk losing their wealth and safety if the federal government decides to put Section 8 housing in their neighborhood. Some cities are also considering bills that would prohibit refusing to rent to federal housing aid recipients.
Hard-working students, successful businessmen, thrifty homeowners — all can be destroyed by bureaucrats. In contrast, members of protected categories enjoy preferential admissions at prestigious schools, an advantage in applying for jobs, and financial benefits if they are certified as a “Minority Business Enterprise.” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has just started her political career of demanding more handouts from whites, but she is merely continuing a family tradition. Her father got special privileges because of his “Certified Minority Business Enterprise.” Any white-owned company, even a “virtuous” one, will have a hard time competing for government contracts. The legal system also considers race when deciding certain cases since “critical race theory” has penetrated many courts.
All this makes flowery tributes to “freedom” by conservatives and libertarians sound like a modern-day Italian quoting the legal codes of the Papal States. If “freedom” means control over your own property, Americans have not been free for at least fifty years. Ann Coulter famously taunted the Students for Liberty at the group’s 2013 convention: “If you were a little more manly, you would tell them [liberals] what your position on employment discrimination is.”
More broadly, the powerful media establishment is opposed to racially aware whites and conservatives. At any moment, a white person can be fired for a politically incorrect comment, an old tweet, a misunderstood joke, a verbal slip-up, or even because of a hoax. Americans do enjoy a theoretical right to freedom of speech, but they can lose jobs for airing even mildly dissident views.
“Democracy” is also discredited when certain points of view enjoy favorable treatment by social networks (companies that themselves receive government privileges), while nationalists are banned from them. This double standard has both “public” and “private” consequences. The public consequence is that it is harder for dissidents to organize, which gives leftists and non-whites an advantage in elections. The private consequence is that it is harder for conservatives, nationalists, white advocates, and anyone else out of step with political correctness to make a living, even in “apolitical” fields.
Leftists have entire industries (“Diversity Training,” for example) that subsidize the creation of new progressive activists. Racial organizations for non-whites in colleges provide a huge advantage for progressive activists, while a white student who starts one will never have a normal career. There are similar ethnic organizations in the professional world that offer networking advantages for non-whites. There is nothing like that for whites.
Beyond the scope of politics in the sense of “Left” or “Right,” culture is also shaped by law and media power. The laws of marriage, education, public health, parental authority, and much else reward or punish certain kinds of behavior. No-fault divorce laws have massively affected private behavior.
Culture, especially pop culture, is also a product of elite power and political strength, rather than pure “free choice.” Certain musicians, filmmakers, and celebrities have a platform — others do not. Certain performers enjoy positive media, which makes them rich and powerful. Others, usually conservatives, do not, which means their careers stagnate. Progressives treat a culturally important job the way a 19th century naval power would a coaling station: It’s a resource that must be denied to enemies. Progressives thus launch boycotts and pressure campaigns to get political opponents fired, even from apolitical jobs.
Furthermore, what most people think is “moral” or “virtuous” is often a product of power, not choice. Social conservatives that believe “virtue” will save the country should reflect on the declining power of institutional Christianity and the trend toward emphasizing racial “social justice” instead of traditional faith. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the issue, the swift collapse of opposition to same-sex marriage in the face of a coordinated legal offensive and media campaign over the last 15 years proves that moral beliefs can shift quickly. This shift didn’t happen because people just changed their minds — big business, the media, the courts, and well-funded, organized activists exerted tremendous pressure. Similarly, opposition to interracial marriage was once almost universal in the United States; now, even though in private almost one in five Americans still oppose it, almost no one would publicly say so.
There is no “private” sphere exempt from politics and the realities of power. There is no escape from politics and power except by escape from society entirely.
This raises the question of whether whites are “victims.” Many white advocates reject that label, perhaps thinking it connotes weakness. Whites claiming victimhood could sound like blacks blaming “racism” for all their problems. David French is right to argue that even with the many obstacles white Americans face, success is still possible with intelligence, hard work, and a little luck, though it becomes harder every year.
Yet the possibility of success is not proof of a free society or a healthy culture. On the eve of the Revolution, American colonists enjoyed a lower tax rate and an arguably higher standard of living than the British, yet they still rebelled. “Success was possible” for men like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams, but they and others felt the British government was thwarting their ambitions. The possibility of material wealth is no substitute for losing control over your own destiny, individually and collectively.
Contemporary whites seem to sense this loss of control, though they don’t know what to do about it except fall into despair and depression. Mr. Carlson addressed his arguments to all Americans, not just whites, but whites in at least some areas are suffering disproportionately from the problems he identified. For example, in Massachusetts, the opioid crisis has so reduced life expectancy for whites that they no longer live as long as blacks, even though blacks have a higher infant mortality rate. Death rates among middle-aged white Americans have been increasing since 1999, and the researchers who discovered the trend blame “deaths of despair” by suicide, drugs, and alcohol. Recent data suggest that the suicide rate for whites is almost three times that of blacks and Hispanics.
The white drug-related mortality rate is 50 percent higher than the rate for blacks and 167 percent higher than that for Hispanics. Chronic liver diseases are also increasing. A third of whites report chronic joint pain, which leads to painkillers — and overdoses. Victor Tan Chen, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University who investigated white rural poverty, suggested the decline in marriage, churches, and extended support networks is contributing to white despair.
Professor Chen wrote that “unions” could provide “social support and collective meaning” and “protection from the slings and arrows of American society.” Yet racial solidarity, or at least the absence of racial self-hatred, would certainly help. In the absence of racial pride, whites collectively feel they have no future, or, worse, that they should have no future.
According to a recent report, no US state had a fertility rate for white women above replacement level in 2017. This is not surprising considering the problems whites face and the media promotion of childlessness in the name of the environment — an appeal that seems to trick only whites. Several academics commenting on the study suggested “more immigration” was the solution. More immigration would make things worse. “White people in America are behaving more and more like American Indians long have: as a defeated and despairing race,” said Steve Sailer of recent sociological findings.
Both collective and individual white suffering is often ignored by elites or mocked by the media. Congressman Hank Johnson seemingly taunted whites for their suffering in a recent speech before the NAACP. CNN contributor Symone Sanders, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, sneered, “Oh my goodness, poor white people!” when she saw a video of an attack on a white Trump supporter. Bernie Sanders himself infamously declared: “When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor.” (He later claimed he misspoke.) This contempt for unfortunate whites will only intensify as the country’s population changes. No one in power pities poor whites in South Africa, and many activists, academics, and journalists make a living pushing the idea of “white privilege.”
Whites are unquestionably being hurt by those in power, and at least some of those behind these destructive policies are pushing them deliberately. Yet claims of victimization will not work even if they’re true. Few in the media or in the political establishment will ever express sympathy for whites. No one is coming to save whites — they must save themselves. This can’t be done by individually pursuing success. It requires collective organization. More fundamentally, it requires a strong racial identity.
Identity is both sword and shield. It allows one to fight against dispossession but also provides a bulwark against despair. The sense of being part of a people, something connected both to the ancient past and endless future, provides meaning and purpose. It brings a sense of belonging and a network of support. This is why local networks of racially aware white activists and families are taking form around the country. These networks make individual success more likely, because activists can help each other find jobs, learn skills, and form communities. Gradually, this will allow whites to resist collectively and carry the message of identity to all European-Americans.
Unfortunately, that time has not yet come. Explicit white identity politics has no place in contemporary American politics or within the GOP. Yet this doesn’t mean that political struggles are irrelevant. The day will certainly come when attractive, pro-white candidates will seek and win office, beginning at the local level.
Tucker Carlson was obviously not advocating policies that would explicitly help whites. Yet restricting immigration, supporting family formation, and abolishing affirmative action and racial set-asides would certainly benefit them. His more intangible ambition for a “cohesive” country that “respects itself” could also contribute towards rebuilding a sense of civic solidarity and meaning, giving whites (and all Americans) a sense of hope.
More broadly, Mr. Carlson is appealing to a sense of national identity that exists only among whites. However, as with President Trump, Tucker Carlson’s fight is our fight not because we believe exactly the same things, but because we have the same enemies. Unfortunately, Mr. Carlson has lost a sponsor because of his monologue, thanks to a boycott several media outlets are cheerleading. If he is driven off the air, most conservative pundits will shrug it off as the “free market in action.”
We must fight the people and institutions pushing mass immigration, foreign wars, cultural and physical poisons, and destructive trade policies. That fight will sharpen a political polarization that works to our advantage. Meanwhile, all white advocates must quietly build organizations and networks and contribute as much as they can to those few organizations that work openly for our vital interests.
The distinction between Tucker Carlson and his Conservatism Inc. critics is the distinction between confrontation and collaboration. The “movement conservatives” of the Beltway Right, just as much as academics promoting “white privilege,” are telling European-Americans it is immoral to organize and resist. Yet if whites are to have a future, it will be outside this system and its rules. If we are to make any progress, the likes of Ben Shapiro and David French must cease to represent the American Right and must be replaced by a genuinely populist nationalism. Mr. Carlson has provided a powerful justification for such a movement. The leaders of America’s political, financial, and media establishment are happy to see our country and its people be replaced. Instead, we should replace them.