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Opinion Tucker Carlson embraces hateful nativism in attack on Rep. Omar

Fox News host Tucker Carlson says liberals and the media are obsessed with racism. But media critic Erik Wemple says it is Carlson who is obsessed. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Months and months ago, anti-immigrant Fox News host Tucker Carlson sounded a lot like presidential candidate Donald Trump when he declared on his program, "I like immigrants. I’m sure a lot of these people are great people.”

He just doesn’t like the ones with the nerve to criticize the wonderful, generous, non-racist United States. Like Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota who arrived here at the age of 12 after fleeing civil war in Somalia and spending four years as a refugee in Kenya. As noted in a recent Post profile, Omar found an imperfect country:

In Omar’s version, America wasn’t the bighearted country that saved her from a brutal war and a bleak refugee camp. It wasn’t a meritocracy that helped her attend college or vaulted her into Congress. Instead, it was the country that had failed to live up to its founding ideals, a place that had disappointed her and so many immigrants, refugees and minorities like her.

That was too much for Carlson to bear. On his Tuesday night program, he read that passage of The Post’s story and raged. Here’s the entire hate-filled riff from Carlson:

“This is an immoral country,” she says. She has undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people. That should worry you and not just because Omar is now a sitting member of Congress. Ilhan Omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country. A system designed to strengthen America is instead undermining it. Some of the very people we try hardest to help have come to hate us passionately.
Maybe that's our fault for asking too little of our immigrants. We aren't self-confident enough to make them assimilate so they never feel fully American. Or maybe the problem is deeper than that. Maybe we're importing people from places whose values are simply in antithetical to ours. Who knows what the problem is, but there is a problem and whatever the cause, this cannot continue. It's not sustainable.
No country can import large numbers of people who hate it and expect to survive. The Romans were the last to try that with predictable results.
So be grateful for Ilhan Omar, annoying as she is. She’s a living fire alarm, a warning to the rest of us we better change our immigration system immediately. Or else.

Wow. In a tweet, Omar showed why she’d angered Carlson in the first place:

In the eyes of Carlson, Omar hasn’t followed the boilerplate behavior of the Fox News immigrant. That prototype shows love for the country by praising it, by hugging the flag and by citing all the ways it’s superior to the homeland. “Probably no person in this country has benefited more from American generosity than Ilhan Omar. Instead of being grateful, though, she is bitter. She hates this country. It says a lot about our current immigration system,” Carlson said. Therewith is a prescription for immigrant behavior that allows no room for the course that Omar has chosen — that of calling out this country’s excesses, its underside. Even though Carlson himself quite commonly savages contemporary United States and its abhorrent “ruling class," Omar is supposed to be quiet.

It’s a strange posture for a guy who spends much airtime lashing out against those who silence dissenters. In March, for instance, the host criticized Democrats for their political correctness. “They’ve made it so questioning any of this is a social crime. Ask questions about [it] or disagree, and you may be silenced or censored or fired from your job,” he said.

Now consider what Carlson is proposing: That immigrants who arrive in the United States and end up “hating" their adopted country — well, they must trigger a change in immigration policy that would apparently prevent them from arriving in the first place. And what Carlson qualifies as “hating," at least in Omar’s case, appears to be a career in public service. She hates the country so much that she’s availing herself of its democratic institutions to represent its people. Let’s keep all aspiring public servants out of here!

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Omar’s crime in the eyes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is calling out racism against minorities in the United States. If only she’d highlight alleged discrimination against white people, denounce South African land-redistribution schemes harming white farmers and jump the gun on blaming Hispanic immigrants in the United States for heinous acts, then perhaps Carlson would proclaim her patriotism.

With the slam on Omar’s alleged betrayal, Carlson adds to the list of reasons why the United States should restrict immigration. There’s the they-make-the-country-"dirtier" reason, which cost Carlson’s show some advertisers; there’s the Mexican-effort-to-change-U.S.-demographics reason; there’s the immigrants-depress-wages reason; there’s the immigrants-speak-other-languages-at-school reason; and now there’s the immigrants-might-criticize-us reason.

A host at a real news network might choose the economic argument and cite it consistently as the reason to promulgate immigration restrictions. But this is Fox News, where inflammatory arguments about race, immigration and religion ensure industry-best ratings. Need some good Nielsen numbers? Go after that immigrant congresswoman who wears a hijab.

Check out the video of Carlson unloading on Omar. There’s a flaming passion in his delivery as he delivers a warning about the threat posed by Omar and her like. As he accuses others of hating America, he sounds a lot like a guy who has come to hate America.

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