On Monday, President Trump condemned white supremacy after a gunman allegedly motivated by anti-immigrant hatred killed 22 and wounded dozens more in El Paso. Trump’s statements came after many Democrats and some Republicans repudiated him for his own language against lawmakers and immigrants.
“It’s actually not a real problem in America,” Carlson said. He then added: “This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.”
Carlson’s argument is belied by many experts and seemingly contradicted by a recent wave of deadly attacks by men motivated by those views. As The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported on Monday, violence tied to far-right ideologies has killed roughly as many Americans since 9/11 as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State combined.
Trump has faced heavy criticism for his role in stoking white racial grievances. Numerous Democratic presidential candidates denounced Trump after El Paso for boosting “white nationalism,” while polling has consistently found that most Americans believe he’s encouraged white supremacists. The president has often called Hispanic migration an “invasion” — language echoed in a manifesto police believe the accused El Paso shooter posted online decrying a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Carlson has regularly said similar words. He’s used “invasion” rhetoric nine times on his show this year, according to liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America, including describing a surge of migrants at the southern border as “an invasion, and it’s terrifying.” Carlson has also warned that immigrants could “replace” Americans — an echo, critics say, of the “Great Replacement,” a conspiracy theory that also motivated the deadly March attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 51 people at mosques.
On Tuesday night, though, Carlson argued that claims about a larger white supremacy problem in America are bogus. Trump never should have had to address it after El Paso, Carlson said.
“In point of fact, he never endorsed white supremacy or came close to endorsing white supremacy. That’s just a lie,” he said. “But he condemned it anyway.”
Carlson framed his argument around the idea that few Americans belong to explicitly white supremacist groups, like the KKK.
“If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns, of problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia, probably,” he said. “The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium.”
The host later added that he’d never personally met anyone who fit that bill.
“I’ve lived here 50 years and I’ve never met anybody, not one person who ascribes to white supremacy,” he said to his guest. “I don’t know a single person who thinks that’s a good idea.”
But experts say white supremacist mass killers are more likely today to be radicalized in online forums like 8chan, where the alleged El Paso killer reportedly posted his manifesto, than at organized rallies with white hoods. In July, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said the agency had arrested about 100 domestic terrorism suspects in the previous nine months, and most were tied to white supremacist beliefs.
Carlson, though, maintained that the case against white supremacy is a Democratic political strategy.
“They’re making this up,” he said. “It’s a talking point, which they are using to help them in this election cycle.”
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