Opinion Tucker Carlson aims at Biden, hits Poles and Italians instead
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Leave it to Tucker Carlson to counteract an absurd statement by President Joe Biden with a statement more absurd and perhaps even bigoted.
In his Wednesday address to Congress, Biden grossly exaggerated twice in two clauses by saying that he entered office with the need to handle “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression [and] the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” My colleaguethe latter claim by listing a whole series of “attacks on our democracy” that created greater loss of life or had longer-term reverberations than the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to which Biden was referring. As the actual conduct of the riot had a sort of Keystone Kops aspect to it, Biden somewhat overstated its importance.
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Still, Biden was correct that the riot was aon the very functioning of democracy, as it was literally an attempt to forestall the official counting of electoral votes for the highest office in the land. The vice president’s life was at one point in danger, with Mike Pence and his family escaping a hallway less than a minute before rioters reached it.
Indeed, the riot was a veritable obscenity with regard to the civic order and civil society, the seriousness of which far too many conservatives belittle to a greater extent than Biden exaggerates it. And because former President Donald Trump was so widely blamed for creating the conditions for the riot, some Trumpist agitators and demagogues retroactively come close to justifying it.
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The night after Biden’s speech,. Alas, he didn’t do so thoughtfully and reasonably. Instead, he made what can only be described as a not-veiled ethnic reference that had absolutely nothing to do with anything in the same moral universe as the riot. Carlson didn’t say that the riot paled in seriousness to, say, the 9/11 attacks. He didn’t cite the Oklahoma City bombing or some older example such as the Cuban missile crisis or Pearl Harbor.
No, Tucker’s example of something more worthy of being called “the worst attack on our democracy in 160 years” was the “Immigration Act of 1965.”
The mind reels at this. Carlson explained: “That law completely changed the composition of America’s voter rolls, purely to benefit the Democratic Party. That seems like kind of an assault on democracy, a permanent one.”
There is no way to describe this statement as anything other than bigotry.
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Set aside the bizarreness of calling a law overwhelmingly passed through constitutional, representative processes an “assault on democracy.” The substance and history of the law make Carlson’s citation of it beneath contempt.
That 1965 law had nothing to do with open borders, amnesty, or sovereignty. Rather, it was entirely about national origins and ethnicity. Before the law, known as the Hart-Celler Act, the United States had strict limits on the national origin of immigrants. The old law hugely favored northwest Europeans. The new one eliminated national origin, race, and ancestry as the determinants of who could immigrate, replacing it with a system based on family ties to existing citizens or status as professionals and others with specialized skills.
In other words, now Asians and southern and Eastern Europeans, or maybe Africans, would have equal access to the American dream. Italians, Hungarians, Algerians, and Taiwanese no longer would take a back seat to Germans, French, and Brits.
That, apparently, is what registers in Carlson’s mind as “chang[ing] the composition of America’s voter rolls.” To repeat: This bill was about ending ethnic discrimination, pure and simple.
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Is Carlson saying he believes that all those Italians, Poles, and Japanese who wanted to undertake the elaborate naturalization process so they could become good citizens and vote in American elections are the problem in the country today? Are all those Greek and South Korean voters a ticking time bomb in Carlson’s mind?
Surely, he was right that the result was cataclysmic: Since then, the damage to democracy was so bad that the Soviets lost the Cold War, the U.S. became, for decades, the world’s only superpower, and the Democrats who supposedly engineered this perfidious bill lost the White House in eight of the next 14 elections.
Those 1965 Democrats sure ran roughshod over the GOP, though, in passing the Hart-Celler Act — right? But, oh wait — so why did 86% of Senate Republicans and 85% of House Republicans support the bill, a rate even higher than the Democrats’ respective support levels of 78% and 74%? That was not only not an “assault on democracy,” it wasn’t even a hurdle for the Republican half of the democracy, whose interests Carlson claims to be defending.
Carlson’s rant, then, was either just ethnic bigotry at its worst or vicious demagoguery, playing on the fact that most people hear “immigration act” and think it’s about letting in illegal Hispanics. Or maybe it's both.
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Either way, it was inexcusable. And coming from someone already repeatedly under fire for hiringas a top aide, for defending , and racially charged , it looks and sounds like in a yuppie disguise.
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