America is an oligarchy organized by the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy. Pancake Brain is a (free) Friday newsletter dedicated to replacing the status quo with equitable public power. If you’re into that kind of thing, I hope you’ll subscribe and share. This project is based on How to Start a Revolution, which you can read (or listen to) here.
Dearest Pancake Brains,
After more than two weeks of protests in hundreds of cities across the country, the Black Lives Matter movement has finally gone mainstream. Since George Floyd was murdered by a white police offer on Memorial Day, public opinion has seen a shift so seismic, it is basically the graphic equivalent of a hockey stick.
According to the New York Times, American support for the Black Lives Matter movement has increased more over the past two weeks than in the past two years: “By a 28-point margin, Civiqs finds that a majority of American voters support the movement, up from a 17-point margin before the most recent wave of protests began.” And a new Monmouth University poll shows that 76 percent of Americans say racism and discrimination is “a big problem” in this country. (Heck, Mitt Romney is probably writing “I Can’t Breathe” on a pizza box as you read this.)
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is ruling the country as a racist authoritarian, and not even pretending otherwise. Despite the fact that even the ancient enemy of democracy Mitch McConnell has been compelled to discuss policy solutions for “obvious racial discrimination,” the white supremacist propaganda apparatus known as Fox News is responding to the Black Lives Matter movement by pumping old white people full of ignorance and fear. This horrifying death rattle of white supremacy has perhaps been best illustrated by the meltdown of Tucker Carlson: an explosion of hate that has been so inevitably gruesome, it’s like watching Dr. Pimple Popper get her hands on a white head.
In short, white Americans are finally waking up to racial injustice, and Tucker Carlson is being paid to have a racist temper tantrum.
Andrew Lawrence @ndrew_lawrenceTucker Carlson attacks Elmo https://t.co/KTkycca7SP
I understood this American tipping point had fully saturated the country when a Black Lives Matter march in my small New Jersey hometown had a huge turnout despite the fact that it was raining all afternoon and cops set up obstacles at every turn. And again, when I saw that Tucker was getting into a deranged fear-mongering, straw-man argument with Elmo.
In the clip, another furry red puppet talks to Elmo via split-screen. “People of color, especially in the black community, are being treated unfairly, because of how they look,” says Elmo’s friend.
At this bland acknowledgement of inequality, Tucker Carlson becomes more enraged than Joan Crawford spotting a dirt stain.
He clicks his tongue with all the subtlety of a stage whisper.
“It’s a children’s show,” Carlson says.
Then he projects his voice, and sneers, “Got that, Bobby? America is a very bad place, and it’s your fault, so, no matter what happens, no matter what they do to you when you grow up, you have no right to complain.”
“That’s the message,” Carlson concludes. “And it starts very young.”
Tucker, if you’re reading this, I really don’t know where to start.
Is that really what Sesame Street’s message was, or are you possibly reading cue cards from a white supremacist propaganda network deliberately engineered to enforce racist power through the spread of paranoia?
Also, who the fuck is Bobby?
There are plenty of black people named Bobby, Tucker, so I can only assume that, rather that making a inflammatory gesture to all white kids, you are, instead, suddenly referring to the ghost of one child in particular, specifically a young boy who drowned in a lake and haunts you because you’re terrified that your mother never loved you.
It’s either that, or you’re fucking racist.
Andrew Lawrence @ndrew_lawrenceTucker Carlson attacks Elmo https://t.co/KTkycca7SP
America’s transformation into an anti-racist country includes many examples beyond the polls: Major League Baseball opened its season with a message about Black Lives Matter that called for donations to the NAACP and other organizations, NASCAR has officially banned Confederate flags, and “It boy” of MAGA is having repeated break downs on national television. White people are finally waking up to their complicity in the racial injustice that rules this country, and white supremacists like Carlson are pushed to admit to the hate they’ve harbored all along.
Carlson’s defense of white citizenship has been more explicit than his toxic masculinity puppet show. “This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through,” he said of nationwide uprisings that began with the police murder of George Floyd. “But it is not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will.”
I wonder how Carlson would pantomime that statement for Bobby.
Fox News has since said the “they” in Carlson’s statement refers to Democratic leaders. Except, even if you replace the “they” with “Democratic leaders,” and believe that is what Carlson allegedly meant (despite not further clarifying his message on air), he is still denying the fundamental authenticity of the Black Lives Matter movement while mischaracterizing a national uprising based on civil rights.
Also, what would it even mean to suggest that viewers should “watch out when [Democratic leaders] come for you?”
Acyn Torabi @AcynTucker: They don’t own this country. They did not build it. https://t.co/fWKDWHdDr8
Since that statement, The Walt Disney Company, Papa John’s, Poshmark and T-Mobile have joined a growing list of advertisers that has left Carlson’s show. This has happened before. In December of 2018, Carlson lost dozens of sponsors when he said that allowing Central American immigrants into the country “makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided.” That Tucker Carlson Tonight remains on air is most of what you need to know about Fox News.
I should probably disclose that this newsletter is drenched in bias, which is to say, I strongly feel that Tucker Carlson is an idiot potato head who is openly profiting off of white supremacy. And, yeah, we had a fight.
In December 2016, I was invited on Carlson’s show to discuss Ivanka Trump. At the time, I had little familiarity with Carlson outside of that clip where Jon Stewart calls him a “partisan hack,” and I also foolishly believed that Fox News purported to stand for “the rule of law.” It’s been terrifying to watch Carlson’s ascent from no-name bowtie to “millionaire funded by billionaires” as he promotes the fear and ignorance that support racist policies.
When I went on Tucker Carlson Tonight after writing about Trump’s gaslighting for Teen Vogue, I thought I could charm my way into a serious conversation about the open display of authoritarian cronyism that was Ivanka Trump getting an office in the White House. Instead, I was met with a conversation most accurately described as a hostile, anti-journalistic ambush. The segment ended with Carlson referencing a fashion post I had published for Teen Vogue, and saying, “Stick to the thigh-high boots, you’re better at that,” as his producers cut my feed. (If you were to look up this video, you would find wildly contradictory headlines. Either I’m a feminist hero, or a I had a seizure on national television — it all depends on confirmation bias, really.)
There are still occasionally Twitter accounts that appear in my mentions to tell me to “Stick to the thigh-high boots.” I hope, for their sake, that they are Russian bots. Those messages no longer bother me, but they do remind me of the extreme harassment I faced after I appeared on Carlson’s show. By the time I got to the lobby of the New York studio where I recorded the segment, my inbox was flooded with death and rape threats, and multiple images of me Photoshopped into a gas chamber. In one, Tucker was featured in a Nazi uniform, pushing a big, red button.
Now, Tucker Carlson is America’s foremost poster boy for white supremacy. And, like Trump, he’s not even pretending otherwise.
In the past several years, Carlson has fallen upward with astonishing velocity, as he ferociously concocts anxiety in support of the racist authoritarian who calls himself President. Carlson’s racism has now gotten to the point where I would only be half-surprised if he used that Nazi Photoshop for a new segment. And don’t take it from me, the Nazi website Stormfront called Carlson “literally our greatest ally.”
The Volatile Mermaid @OhNoSheTwitntDisney pulled their ads from Tucker Carlson’s show and you know you’ve gotta be REALLY racist to be too racist for the people who made Song of the South.
When I foolishly thought that Carlson could at least be forced to acknowledge the fraught nature of Trump’s embrace of nepotism, I was blinded by the white nationalist myth of principled conservatism. It turns out there’s no such thing.
If you look back at the history of modern Republicanism, the politics of Barry Goldwater and his drawling cheerleader known as William F. Buckley Jr., are still often about prioritizing whiteness while pretending to be colorblind. The most significant difference is the pretense of politeness. Buckley performed respectability for a conservative culture that felt dismissed as anti-intellectual and out-of-touch. Now, dumber then ever, Carlson stands up for the far-right by acting like a frat boy who just smelled a fart. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Tucker Carlson is basically what would happen if you left William F. Buckley Jr. in the microwave for too long.)
Carlson’s attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement are horrifying, and, I hope, proof that the white supremacists are running out of places to hide.
The term Black Lives Matter has been viciously slandered and stigmatized since Alicia Garza first coined the term in a 2013 Facebook post after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing of Trayvon Martin. Now that white America has finally come to broadly comprehend the meaning of anti-racism, the mission to prioritize white citizens has no choice but to be as disgusting and obvious as some bloated bow-tie having a fight with a puppet. At long last, the American public can rally around national unity in opposing racism, fighting for equality, and understanding that Tucker Carlson is a dangerous, racist idiot.
With earnest irreverence,