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Opinion Tucker Carlson proposes an Orwellian test for immigrants: They’ve ‘got to like us back’

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) with students at Richfield High School in Richfield, Minn., on May 28. (Jenn Ackerman/For the Washington Post)
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Open and honest debate. Free expression. Opposition to all forms of thought control. All that stuff is what Fox News host Tucker Carlson claims to stand for on his program each weeknight. He even has a franchise sign-off to hammer home the point: “The show that’s the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness and groupthink,” Carlson says.

And yet, it’s this self-avowed demigod of dissension who during Wednesday’s show appeared to institute a new test for immigrants trying to enter the United States. “The United States admits more immigrants than any country on Earth — more than a million every year. The Democratic Party demands that we increase that number and admit far more,” said Carlson. “Okay, Americans like immigrants, but immigrants have got to like us back. That’s the key. It’s essential. Otherwise, the country falls apart.”

The backdrop for the proposal is familiar to anyone who obsesses over the idiocy of cable news: On Tuesday night, just to enhance his stature as the industry’s toughest talker on immigration, Carlson ripped into Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), a Democrat who has been vocal in denouncing what she sees as racism and bigotry in her midst. Omar is an immigrant who fled Somalia as a child, spent several years as a refugee in Kenya and then arrived in the United States at the age of 12.

Carlson drew quite a backlash when he said on Tuesday night that Omar is insufficiently grateful for the wonders of this country. “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 on Tuesday, also arguing that she is a “warning to the rest of us we better change our immigration system immediately. Or else.”

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In a Twitter response, Omar called Carlson a “racist fool.” She also suggested advertisers take note of the hatred:

Hatred, as Carlson has learned, makes for good ratings. So he returned to Omar on Wednesday’s program. He re-aired his comments from Tuesday night and then tried another, more furious articulation of his disapproval of Omar’s gratitude. “Our country rescued Ilhan Omar from the single worst place on Earth. We didn’t do it to get rich. In fact, it cost us money,” Carlson said. “We did it because we are kind people. How did Omar respond to the remarkable gift we gave her? She scolded us and called us names. She showered us with contempt. It’s infuriating. But more than that, it’s also ominous.”

Then Carlson uncorked his reciprocal liking requirement, which will presumably require a constitutional amendment. How will Carlson and his sentries measure the like-back quotient of a 12-year-old Somali immigrant?

Columnist Michael Gerson says the president is an anti-Muslim bigot who applies religious freedom only to those Trump favors, which counts out Rep. Ilhan Omar. (Video: Joshua Carroll, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

As he blasted away at Omar, Carlson also rebutted claims that his quest to use Omar as the face of overly liberal immigration policies was racist. “Racist? No. We’re against racism, adamantly,” the host assured his audience.

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” is a program based not on principles and convictions, but rather on episodic and opportunistic promotion of division and, yes, racism. The problem with seat-of-the-pants hatred is that the host ends up contradicting himself as he chases his audience around the country. The broadside against Omar is an instructive example.

On Tuesday night, the host alleged that Omar represents the failure of the U.S. immigration system.

On Wednesday, he reached for another culprit — liberals. “So we should be worried when the modern left inculcates in immigrants an anti-American worldview, shouldn’t we?” he asked a guest. “I mean, that’s clearly what happened to Ilhan Omar. She didn’t show up hating America; I’m sure she was grateful to get here. Most people are, especially from Somalia. But she wound up as a hater of America. Someone taught her that. Should we be worried that that is happening?”

No way this congresswoman could think for herself! “I have none,” Omar told someone when asked about her mentors,, as reported by The Post. “You don’t need people to guide you. You can guide yourself.”

To carry Carlson’s argument to its extreme, immigrants are actually fine. Open borders, if you will. We can let in billions of newcomers, as long as we find a way to silence the anti-American lefty brainwashers roaming the land.

Read more from Erik Wemple:

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