On his show Tuesday night, Carlson again turned his attention to proving the accuracy of his most controversial claim: that there is a deliberate effort underway to replace native Americans with immigrants. The outline of his argument was familiar, considering he’s been doing it on and off for over a year now.
But the particular iteration offered on Tuesday was different. It was more direct in mirroring arguments used and defended by white nationalists, it wrapped itself in a common anti-Semitic assertion – and, crucially, it all hinged on Carlson’s deliberate misrepresentation of how the political left views immigration. .
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“Around 1965 our leaders stopped trying to make the United States a hospitable place for American citizens, their constituents, to have families of their own,” Carlson said. He isolated himself that year because he saw the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, legislation that reversed decades of strict limits on immigration to the United States, as he then explained it. But it’s worth pausing briefly to acknowledge what Carlson is doing: he marks a shift toward welcoming migration as 1) an anti-American failure by political leaders, and 2) a critical part of making the America “inhospitable” to citizens.
Since 1965, the country’s population has grown, but it was “not the kind of organic growth you would see in a healthy society that has become more prosperous and family-friendly”. Instead, he insisted, it was “the exact opposite of that”: growth driven by immigration. Leave aside the fact that America attracts immigrants precisely because it is prosperous, had a healthy society and welcomed families even from other countries. Rather, population growth was primarily a function of immigration only if the children and grandchildren of immigrants are counted as also immigrants, even if they were born in the United States. If you consider immigration as something of a stain:
When Carlson’s maternal ancestors came from Italy to America and had children born in the country, it was a great society building. When do immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Asia come? The exact opposite.
Carlson called the 1965 law fundamentally naive, citing the defense of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.): “The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants,” Kennedy said. “It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society.”
But then he criticized political leaders for giving up on meeting the needs of American families and relying on population growth by “importing[ing] new people.” So which one is it? Were the Democrats stupid? Lying? Intriguing?
This last option is at the heart of the “great replacement theory,” the racist idea that the left deliberately encourages immigrants to come to the United States to subvert the native-born population. In the Carlson framework, this manifests itself most obviously in the elections.
“You can’t just replace the electorate because you didn’t like the results of the last election,” he said on Tuesday. “That would be the definition of undermining democracy, changing voters.” Again, note the quick interconnection with other right-wing frustrations: Democrats are the real insurgents, because immigration!
But it’s also the moment where Carlson’s rhetoric crumbles with the loudest noise. He played clips (as he has done before) of various Democrats talking about how demographic shifts will be a boon for Democratic candidates going forward. Never mind that this claim from the left has begun to waver as Hispanic voters begin to shift to the right. Carlson takes this statement – if X happens, Y will result – and the reverse: for Y to result, Democrats make X happen. First-year logic students can see the flaw here, but Carlson chooses not to.
Nearly half of Republicans agree with ‘big replacement theory’
This is almost certainly due to the fact that he has actively sought to defend his position over the past 14 months. Again, he doesn’t have as much experience as he tries to prove himself right. So while outside observers criticized and undermined his argument about an effort to ‘replace’ native Americans with immigrants, he redoubled his efforts to prove him right, pulling these clips that show Democrats nodding heading to a planned electoral advantage and claiming that this is proof that this outcome was always intended.
“The great stand-in,” Carlson said, introducing the video clips. “Yeah. It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s their election strategy. And we know that because they see it all the time.
After all, why would President Biden call immigration a “gift,” as he did on the campaign trail? Well, he said that explicitly because immigrants contribute so much to the economy. But Carlson phrased it differently, because he’s trying to prove he’s not wrong.
Carlson used to not specifically say “great replacement” because that particular phrase is undeniably associated with racist anti-immigration rhetoric. Now he uses it casually. Defend him.
Highly sensitive to accusations that he himself is sympathetic to white nationalism or harbors racist views, Carlson went to great lengths to insist that it had nothing to do with race. It’s just that the immigrants don’t speak English and are “functionally illiterate” (because they don’t read English) and “broke our laws to get here” (despite the fact that many didn’t) and they are carried all over the country — isn’t that terrifying??!
Oh, and you know who’s behind it?
“Fox News is reporting tonight that the administration has awarded a $172 million grant to a George Soros-linked organization that exists to, in quotes, ‘help frontier youth avoid deportation,'” Carlson said. “Now why is a foreign-born billionaire allowed to fundamentally change our country? That’s the big question.
This funding was actually first reported months ago, for what it’s worth. Moreover, the work of the organization extends well beyond immigration. But this amplification of funding for Soros — a prominent Jewish donor — has resurfaced in recent days, including on sites associated with white nationalism. In his defense, Carlson did not explicitly say that “the Jews will not replace us”.
Fortunately for those weighing the Fox News host’s claims, there is a simpler explanation for large-scale immigration to the United States. This country still offers enormous economic opportunities and personal security to its residents, which has long been considered a credit to this nation. There is also a legal process in place that allows asylum seekers to receive a fair hearing and, at times, to remain in the country while these claims are adjudicated.
Most Americans — not just Democrats — see immigrants as a strength, not a burden. But Carlson is committed to his argument that immigrants are hurting the United States, and so he continues to try to defend it.
Even if it means he convinces himself that explicitly echoing an argument made by white nationalists is no big deal at all.