A very conservative family member emailed me Tucker Carlson’s monologue from the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, saying it was one of his best and that it proves why Carlson is No. 1.
In fact, the only thing it illustrates is that Carlson is the champion of sophistry and demagoguery, using painfully obvious tactics to distract from the significance of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, in the attack on the Capitol.
In his infuriating, intellectually dishonest, and rambling monologue, Carlson never addresses, and certainly doesn't admit, that the storming of the Capitol was the worst domestic assault on American democracy since the Civil War.
Instead, he goes on a tour de force of whataboutism, doing everything he can to dismiss the historical significance of the riot.
Ridiculing the Media and the Left
Sarcastically, Carlson lambastes the left’s hand-wringing over 1/6, describing it as “the Tet Offensive, plus Fallujah, plus the night before Thanksgiving at Whole Foods.” The man is not a comedian.
He attempts to use the rhetorical excesses of reporters and politicians to somehow diminish the reality that 1/6 was a dark day in U.S. history, an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, a proud hallmark of the American political system for well over two centuries. Sorry, Tucker, that's ridiculous.
Have the left and much of the mainstream media gone over the top in their portrayals of what happened? Yes, and there is no excuse for either side to lie or misrepresent what happened on 1/6 for partisan purposes, as I wrote in July during the first hearing of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
I’m actually with Tucker when he criticizes the hyperbole from the media about an “insurrection” and a “coup.” It is insane to compare 1/6 to 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, as some have.
Merriam Webster defines insurrection as “a usually violent attempt to take control of a government.”
Sorry, but while 1/6 was violent and an attempt to disrupt the regular functioning of the American democratic process, these pathetic rioters at the Capitol had no intention of taking control of the government writ large and had about as much a chance of doing so as Miami has of seeing snowfall that accumulates.
Merriam defines “coup” (more precisely, “coup d'état”) as “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics,” especially “the violent overthrow of alteration of an existing government by a small group.” It is ludicrous to claim it was a coup or even an attempted coup. Even if the rioters had temporarily succeeded, they would not have overthrown a government.
Still, using hyperbole from the left is a sad appeal to the prejudices of the right and an irrational argument to distract from the extremism of 1/6.
I am sorry that a Capitol Hill police officer killed Ashli Babbit. But Carlson focuses on her, as if her killing somehow justifies the rioters' violence.
I wish the officer hadn’t shot her. I wish he had found a way to stop the rioters from storming the House floor without unleashing violence of his own.
However, don’t conservatives repeatedly defend the actions of police officers? Don’t they attack liberals for not understanding the stress officers face and for questioning their motives?
I suspect Carlson would react very differently if an officer who felt threatened had shot a rioter who was vandalizing a business during riots in Minneapolis, Kenosha, Portland, or Seattle. Didn’t he lionize Kyle Rittenhouse?
Carlson goes as far as criticizing GOP Sen. Ted Cruz for calling 1/6 a “violent terrorist attack on the Capitol.”
Even in Carlson’s delusion, he accepts it was a riot, which, by definition, involves violence. No rational person would argue that it wasn’t a violent attack on the Capitol, given all the damage inflicted. In fact, according to an Associated Press-NORC survey, even 71% of Republicans admit 1/6 was violent (although, incredibly, 29% say it wasn’t violent).
So, what’s Carlson's objection? That it wasn’t a “terrorist” attack?
Merriam Webster defines terror as “violence or the threat of violence used as a weapon of intimidation or coercion.” Wasn’t that the express intent of the rioters? To use force to intimidate Mike Pence and Congress and force them to stop certifying the 2020 election?
A mob of white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy theorists, racists, and extremists who support Trump were willing to use violence to undermine the democracy that is at the essence of the country they profess to love and the rule of law that has made this nation great.
If 1/6 wasn’t terrorism, Carlson and his fellow right-wing pundits may want to be careful with how they describe Antifa’s rioting. With no intellectual consistency, they seem to think hyperbole to describe that is OK.
Sorry, Tucker, Ted Cruz is right.
Carlson admits the anniversary of 9/11 “is not a joke,” but only because “Pretending that a protest was actually a failed coup is the Democratic Party's entire strategy to win this year’s midterm.”
Like him, many on the right seem horribly offended that politicians and pundits on the left are gloating and milking 1/6 for every political advantage they can get.
Sorry, but that's politics, and it’s irrelevant, unless the left is lying about what happened, and there's plenty of video and audio that leaves little doubt about what occurred.
Using 1/6 as political strategy does not change what happened in the attack on the Capitol.
To follow Carlson further into whataboutism, won’t Republicans take advantage of the backlash against the “Defund the Police” movement and the 2020 riots? Of course they will and they should, just as Democrats will make hay out of 1/6.
On the Other Hand
Democrats, however, should beware. Acting holier than thou on 1/6 and democracy can come back to bite them.
As Victor Davis Hanson writes, Democrats are making moves of their own that can be interpreted as anti-democratic: “After all, who is trying to federalize election laws in national elections contrary to the spirit of the Constitution? Who wishes to repeal or circumvent the Electoral College? Who wishes to destroy the more than 180-year-old Senate filibuster, the over 150-year-old nine-justice Supreme Court, and the more than 60-year-old, 50-state union?”
I can already hear some of my readers groaning and complaining that I’m lapsing into bothsidesism, but Hanson makes valid points (each of which deserves at least a column of its own and which I will not address here).
Despite the attempts by Carlson and others on the right to ignore the impact of 1/6, the riot has had a profound effect on the American psyche.
A just-released CBS News/YouGov poll shows that 66% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is threatened. And 68% worry that 1/6 is a sign of increasing political violence.
Also, Americans overwhelmingly oppose the rioters' actions, with 60% strongly disapproving and 21% somewhat disapproving.
Anyone who loves the U.S. must be concerned that the country that led the world toward greater democracy is facing such a crisis.
Carlson and his acolytes on the right may want to wake up to that reality or find themselves even more marginalized on the fringe of U.S. politics.
Cover photo: U.S. President Donald Trump's supporters gather outside the Capitol in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters later stormed the Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off on then President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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