Part 1 Sam Harris Debates Racism with Woke Author-c8kI5BQvl9w
3:02AM Sep 6, 2020
Yeah, so let's go to one of the kind of harder cases which are more, by definition more mainstream. And here, I think our intuitions might divide a little bit. And again, I mean, my intuitions here are now sort of newly anchored to the experience of being on the other side of this, I mean, being targeted by people's poorly calibrated racist detectors. And so like, take the cases of Tucker Carlson and laura ingram. Right. So these are both people who I've been interviewed by I've never met either them in person, I don't think but, you know, been interviewed by each of them a few times, you know, not recently, but you singled them out, essentially as as racist dog whistlers. For things they've said recently, and I think so, laura ingram said, Democrats mostly want to replace those old white Yahoo conservatives with a new group who might be a little bit more amenable to big government, and that you read as a dog whistle I believe I can read that more charitably just as a fairly factual statement. I mean, there's so many people on the far left, who are banging on and on about white privilege. And using whiteness, and age and gender, you know, it's so old white men being the filter against which they would make almost any political decision. I mean, they're they're advertising this about themselves. And it seems it to be charitable to Laura. And that's an impulse I don't often feel she could have just been remarking on that and not dog whistling to actual racist and much less expressing her own racism.
Yeah. So I believe you that you can parse that in a way that you see it as not a dog whistle. I guess. I don't see it that way. And I don't really see why you I mean, I look Get that it's always possible to read a quote literally as not racist in the sense that the person is not literally saying in the quote i a racist believe that the races are that the white race is superior to the non white races like, in any quote where somebody is not saying those words, it's possible to read it as not racist. I haven't listened to every episode of your show, but I've heard some former episodes where I've heard you do this a few times with Trump, you know, saying, you know, yes, he told, you know, these women of color to go back to their countries, but I'm not sure I see that as a racist dog whistle. And I guess, I guess I don't see why we should ignore what's right in front of us and not take the obvious inference from it. There is a a very well known, poisonous theory called the Great replacement theory that we all know now because they were chanting about it in Charlottesville. And so to the extent that people didn't know about it before that which I would argue it's probably That Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson didn't know about it before that, but I can't prove it. But we all know about it after that. So then traffic in those words replacement, and give it an explicitly race related Valence. And then to turn around and deny that you're trafficking and race baiting. It just it just beggars belief, and I don't, you know, plus, you can put it together with a decade's long history of doing similar things and of supporting policies that have those effects. So I guess I just don't, I don't see why we would try to contort ourselves into you know, trying to I get the point of being charitable to people, but this doesn't seem charitable. This seems implausible.
I mean, I can give you an answer to that question, and it will why bend over backwards to be charitable, even in the case when you're dealing with someone who you have other reason to believe might be racist, and he as in the case with Trump, I just simply don't know enough about Tucker, Laura to have any prejudice about their social attitudes really sorry. But in the case of Trump, I have a fairly strong sense that he is, you know, not a white nationalist. Maybe not a an ideological racist. I don't think he deals with ideas of any kind, but I think he's, you know, at minimum and Archie Bunker style racist, like he's just not comfortable with. Those people are not as comfortable or just, you know, likes white people more. And yet, if you're always going to read into every utterance and the possibility that that utterance is a dog whistle, or a sign of lurking racism, there's several problems with it. One is, if you're going to seize upon the utterance, right, then it's going to have the same valence when someone else speaks those same words like like that utterances. is now radioactive.
Well, maybe but not always. I mean, I, well look two things. I mean, I'll let you finish but I, firstly, I don't want to set up a straw man I don't, I'm not arguing that you should always see everything as a dog whistle to, you know, you use the word always obviously I don't think you should always do it, I think you should do it. I don't think you should never do it. That's what I mean by bending over backwards. Yes, of course, I believe in being charitable. But I don't think this is charitable. I think this is taking something that I think has a pretty clear Valence. And just because it doesn't have the words, I am a racist in it, kind of just willfully refusing to see it that that's that's how I would perceive it.
But I mean, the problem with the dog whistle hypothesis is that it really is unfalsifiable it is conspiracy thinking of a sort that gives us all these conspiracy theories that are that whose adherence just cannot be reasoned with and they find the anomalies everywhere and demand that you make sense of them, and they're In most cases, there is no sense to be made. And if you turn up your dog whistle detector, you will find it everywhere. I mean, it's just, you know, and again, I've been on the other side of this. Yeah. And you know, met mentioned on my podcast enough so that it's it's an incredibly boring for listeners to hear me whinge about but you know, there is no answer to somebody saying, well that's a dog whistle when they can read a dog whistle into anything.
Yeah, I can see why you have a particular sensitivity to it. But I, again, I really want to stay away from always and never and you know, yes, if you turn your dog whistle detector up to 11 and you try to see it everywhere. That's a bad approach. But I also think it's a bad approach to never see it. And I think you're verging in this case and in other cases on never seeing it. I think you're narrowing the the possible field to literally utterances where someone says I am a racist, or you know,
well, no, no, it's not that it's just it's much More, I guess let's just decide what racism is here for the purposes of this conversation. I mean, for me it is someone's a racist if a racist of a sort that we should care about if their political aims in some way entail living in a society where people of different races don't have the same political freedoms.
How about living in a majority white society? Wouldn't that make you a kind of white nationalist if you want to live in a more white nation, or a majority white nation
yet? Well, it's a but that doesn't tell the principle I just invoked, which is how do you get to a majority white society, you're infringing on somebody's political rights to get there
or you're I mean to stick with the example of laura ingram, and also Tucker Carlson. One way of maintaining a white majority is to invoke replacement theory to scare old white people into wanting to close the border. And put babies in cages in order to protect their white majority. That would be one way of doing it.
Right. So again, this gets us into the dangerous territory of the way most people on the left wrangle with that concern is to assert that any serious conviction that we'd need defensible borders, or that we should be able to admit who we want into the country and keep others out. That is synonymous with racism.
No. What I'm saying is when someone tells you my border policy is based on my specific invocation of race, Visa v. me saying that this is about protecting white people from being replaced, and or about calling immigrants dirty in the case of Tucker Carlson or referring to them as criminals or
you don't actually cite those statements in your book. And again, I said so assuming Tucker is saying and not racist for The moment when he called them criminals. He might have been saying that it is a crime to sneak into the country and we can't not treat it as a crime. That could be the what he meant by calling them criminals. Again, I didn't I'm not I don't know what you're referring to. But
well, I mean, I'm referring to a few instances, one of which happened after the book went to press. So I couldn't include it. But I mean, Tucker has done this many, many times. And, you know, I'd be happy to ask him in person what he meant, and I'm sure he'd be able to come up with an explanation. But I just think, look, at a certain point, when you have a pattern and practice of behavior. Yeah, you could say, well, my concerns with the border are just purely economic. And you know, instead of reading all the economists I've only read George pourhouse. And I've been convinced that, you know, this is a drain on our economy, and you know, it has nothing whatsoever to do with race. You could say that, except that then if you're laura ingram, in the quote, we're discussing, you're tipping your hand by saying no, this is about what conservatives being replaced. That is my that is where my concern about border policy is arising from. So I mean it in the absence of that maybe we could talk about whether her border policy has anything to do with race, but she's just told us that it does.
But actually, so it's possible that I didn't understand the context of this Ingram quote, because I just read this as so like, again, the quote is democrats mostly want to replace those old white Yahoo conservatives with a new group of people who might be a little bit more amenable to big government.
Yeah, she means people from South and Central America. It's very clear in context,
right. Okay. So yeah, I didn't know that. The connection immigration here I thought she was more or less just saying we have. Basically she was just summarizing intersectional identity politics and let's get rid of the old white conservatives.
Well, and that's why these words are important. And I agree with you that you can't go so far into dog whistle conspiracy territory, that Anytime someone uses a word you don't like you accuse them of, you know, I get that there are ways that this could be out of whack. But I also think it's the case that when someone who has been steeped in nativist politics, let's call it for decades, uses what is very clearly an echo of the great replacement theory which has that word replace in it, which is about a globalist conspiracy to import brown people to dilute the white majority of the country. Again, I can't prove that that's what she meant. And I'm sure if she were here, she would deny it. But again, this This takes us back to the to the ingenious trap that is set by people who are either just out now trolls or people who are not saying what they mean. You know, a lot of people don't say what they mean because they know that they can have a better, more effective conveyance of their message by going halfway towards saying what they mean and then, you know, not spelling it all out. It's much easier for Donald Trump took shithole countries, you know, shithole countries. And and to say, I think they're shithole countries, because they have black people in them. Obviously, he's not gonna say that. But it's very clear to people what he means.
Well, again, no, I mean, for me, it's not. It's a thankless job defending Trump or any of these other people who I disagree with, more or less across the board. And in certainly in Trump's case, I'm more or less sure that he is guilty as charged. But again, the question is, are these utterances evidence of the crime? And
so what utterances are ones that fall into that? I mean, I'm curious what what has Trump said that makes you think he's a racist?
The thing that's truly dispositive for me is that that I believe, I know to a moral certainty, what he's like behind closed doors, right. And I know that the apprentice tapes exist and that you can hear him using the N word with a band and not you know, like it's linguistics class, and he's talking about the power of the word but he's using it because that's what he calls black. People when he's you know, totally unguarded.
So I guess I would be worried about setting the bar at, you have to be a celebrity who's taped on camera repeatedly using the N word. And anything short of that is not
that's not the bar if you're going to refer to shithole countries, as a, a rich guy, pseudo billionaire who likes everything in his life gilded seems to be the variable there is not race, the salient variable, the necessary variable in order to understand the utterance is not race, it is squalor and poverty and disease. And it's he's talking about the developing world. And if you could find me a country filled with white people who are as poor and chaotic as what you find in Congo, well, then he's talking about them to AI right or he would be
Yeah, I mean, whatever we can get stuck on this forever, but I don't think I don't think that I think where he got his Third bride from I don't think he would refer to that as a shithole country, I think, you know, and again, there is there's a certain amount of speculation involved here. I grant you because trolling involves to use a term that maybe is, like, over determined at this point involves a certain amount of gaslighting. It really does. I mean, I know people throw that stuff around and you know, it gets worn out. But what trolls do is they don't say what they mean. And it's crazy making because you try to nail them down and they squirm away from you. So
I think it was like in that same utterance when Trump was calling Haiti and African countries, shithole countries that he said, We need more people from Norway, like, come on, how explicitly does he need to say it?
I'm going to grant you that Trump shows every sign of being a racist, right? So it's just that if statements like that are unequivocal signs of the speaker's racism Then they have to work for other speakers and then anyone no matter how blameless their record, if they say something about shithole countries, they're racist, right. And I just don't think that runs through.
No, I think I think context matters. And I think it's a little disingenuous to say, Oh, you know, once you say that word, then nothing else you've ever said or done in your life matters. I mean, I think context matters,
but just look at the people who are I mean, you know, I know that I need to lecture you about kancil culture, but this is what has given us kancil culture. It's the narrow fixation on the magical power of words, given their worst conceivable interpretation,
well, I guess to maybe maybe one way of trying this from a different angle would be just to say like, I take your point about how these things can be under determined and how, at the very least, like I like like with the example that I started with, with the with the example of Lucian windridge in the briefing room, if you accuse someone of something and they are very plausibly able to deny it, you lose a point, right? So at the very least, it might be a technical error, I get that. On the other hand, the solution cannot be. We will never call anyone a racist unless they say I am a racist. And I and I, and I still don't really understand what your proposal is for getting out of that.
But that's a straw man version of my position here. I mean, clearly, there are racists who will answer to the name. Clearly there are people who are, you know, bigoted and they had and they're so lacking in introspection, or awareness of these issues, that they don't even understand the shape of the dark cloud, that they're trailing behind them, right? They're not ideological racists, but they're, again, they're Archie Bunker types. But then there are people who just are using words in ways that would have been quite normal 20 years ago, and everything is being subjected to a different Litmus. Test.
Well, I guess one way I mean, I would assume that you can feel sympathy for the bind, that we find ourselves in we being just people of goodwill who don't want this country to be overtaken by rogues and idiots and liars and monsters, when people keep not saying what they mean saying the opposite of what they mean, pretending to hide behind irony or humor when they are actually trying to perpetuate racism. Milo is a good example of this.
Yeah, but I'm saying that so clearly, there is such a thing as the sort of the trolling strategy and I'm not disputing that dog whistling ever occurs. I mean, there is it is an idea for a reason. But again, when applied to people in general, it quickly becomes unfalsifiable unless you catch them in some other context where they they take the mask off.
Well, I would say two things. Well, three things I would say. One is that that is an impetus to work harder to catch them and buy cash. I don't mean like, you know, shame and humiliate and dox them, I mean cash in the sense of like doing your homework and trying to figure out what people actually mean and where they're actually coming from. So that would be one part of it. You know, I mean, just since I mentioned Milo, everything he's ever said he's has cloaked under a guise of I'm only joking darling that the left can take a joke I'm so just PC culture is gone awry, you know, and then, but what he in fact does is make fun of trans people to the point where he's implying that violence should be done to them make all kinds of specious and dangerous arguments about immigration and, and like I do I know that in his heart of hearts, he does or doesn't mean it. No, I don't know. And in fact, I think it's actually deeper and scarier than that, which is I don't think he gives a shit. I don't think he thinks about it twice. I don't think he has strong beliefs about anything, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have effects in the world.
No, okay. But that was that but that's it. Very different case. And I actually would put Milo in his own circle in this Venn diagram and touching, probably no others, because his main quality as a person is a total lack of sincerity that's yoked to a master of that value of just wanting to be famous. Right. So he's just a pure provocateur? Well, I don't know that he cares about anything or believes anything. I'm sure he's more or less sincere and finding the left despicable and ridiculous, but I've never seen him seem like he had a real moral core to him. Unlike it really everyone else in your book who's you know, captivated by one or another? Crazy opinion, but it's not all about just getting a rise out of their audience and getting more clicks in? Yeah, at least at least I wouldn't. I kind of okay,
I would grant you most of that. I guess the way I would complicate it would be by saying, I think that the core impulse of someone like Milo is just fame and attention. And I think that's actually true of other people in the book. I think that's largely true evolution. I think it to some degree is true of cernovich. But, you know, but but but I don't want to make these things fully mutually exclusive with other things. I think you're, you know, you, you're sketching of interlocking circles and Venn diagrams is is accurate, in that it's not and I don't think you would say that it's all one or all the other thing I think these things are always intertwined and playing off of each other. So yeah, I think there's maybe some longings or desires that are more prevalent than others. But you know, it's also the case that Milo his email password was a was a Nazi meme and he wore iron crosses, and he has very consistently advocated for America being as white as possible. So I guess at a certain point, there's like a diminishing returns aspect to going okay if we strapped him down and gave him a truth serum would we Learn that it's more of the impulse toward attention or that it's more that he has a sincere belief in white nationalism. Clearly, he's been interested in playing with white nationalist and Nazi tropes for a long, long time. And clearly he has allied himself with institutions that you know, Breitbart having a black crime vertical on its website, you know, these things are not random. So, yeah, he goes toward where the where the attention is. But I don't think that there aren't other balances at play, too. And I think that's true of everyone else in the book.
Yeah, all of this puts me in mind of the larger political concern that my foremost concern near term politically is that we just not have four more years of Trump. And it seems to me that attacking half the country for their white privilege and on acknowledge racism is a losing strategy. And it seems to me that the left certainly the far left is totally committed to doing that and They're in the process, perhaps of convincing the Democratic Party to more or less do that, or at least pander enough to the far left so as to have their message be indistinguishable from that for the rest of the country. And it just it just seems like one It seems untrue, right? It's not that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. And it's not that everyone who's concerned about immigration is concerned about immigration because they just want to live with more white people.
Yes, of course, these things are complicated. And I, I think you're right to not want to make a cartoon out of anyone. Of course, and I mean, obviously, when you spend years with people, you know, sometimes they come out cartoonish when they act cartoonish, but most of the time, they're not. And so I don't think of people as cartoons and I don't think of everyone as being the same. I guess. I might reframe it as, rather than thinking about the danger of, as you say, attacking half the country. What if we framed it in terms of how do we fight racism if we if we set the bar at a place where and and and maybe some definition of terms is necessary? I'm not only thinking of racism of the like, I don't want to shake a black person's hand variety. I mean, I think that there are meaningful structural differences between people who want to structure our society in order to make it more equitable, and people who don't. And, yes, there are certain words that are very radioactive. And maybe it's not that helpful to use the word racism in that context. But I think if you've, if you think about the sweep of American history, white supremacy has very clearly been a problem all along. And I don't think that problem has gone away. So I think, of course, I don't want Trump to be reelected. But I also think, I don't think we can just suspend the fight against the historical legacy of white supremacy. Until that happens for fear of, you know, pissing off a few Trump voters
well I think it's beyond pissing off a few Trump voters. I just think it's a strategy that seems guaranteed to get him reelected. Take, again, not to spend too much time on this. But I think it's a very instructive case. I mean, to take, you know, two posts on fox news as examples of white supremacy and, you know, conscious dog whistling to white supremacists. I gotta think that is something that half the country, or something like half the country will consider ridiculous. They'll think that one. They like Tucker Carlson say, and they're not racist, and they don't see any sign of racism in him. So what the hell is the left talking about?
Well, I guess I would say a few things. One, I mean, just to put it in context for people who haven't read the book, it's a 400 page book and you're referring to, I think, two paragraphs in it. So it's not like there are multiple pages where the names Tucker Carlson and And Graham even come up. So I mean, I don't want people to think that I'm writing a book about Nazis and trolls and that my prime examples are Fox News hosts
Well, no but it's a complicated picture again this he doesn't appear very much in the book but what's interesting is that he has your, to some degree led to your surmise of him because of the way in which he's embraced by these self described Nazis and anti Semites.
Right, so that's the
other missing piece of evidence here is that I didn't claim that these were conscious dog whistles I quoted Nazis who read them as dog whistles,
okay, but that's not the same thing as uttering a dog whistle.
I didn't claim anything about how they meant the utterance I claimed, what what effect it had.
Well, no, but let me let you take the most odious thing I think that you quote from Tucker, or at least you quoted in this in the spirit of holding it up as evidence of his racism. He at one point says, in one sense is diversity. They are strength. And, you know, that can be read as I'm a white guy who just wants to be around more white guys message and it's also a question that has to be fair game, you know? Well within the Overton window when you're talking about understanding society. I mean, this is a question that sociologists and and psychologists and anthropologists have to be able to study. And I mean, you probably know, there's been work done in this area. I mean, Robert Putnam published a famous paper, I think, about 10 years ago, showing that increased racial diversity did decrease social trust.
I know it well, the alt right guys talk about it all the time.
Yeah, exactly. And so and it's been debunked to some degree, but again, it's not literature that I've paid much attention to, but it's debunking hasn't been decisive. I mean, so it's like it could just be a fact that for a variety of reasons, as diversity goes up, Social trust goes down. And maybe it just goes down when the change is happening, right when the percentiles are shifting, and then it stabilizes. But this is just something about human societies that, you know, the facts are whatever they are, and they need to be understood and it can't be synonymous with, with white supremacy, to want to understand those facts or to report those facts, whatever they are, when you do study them. You know, I don't know what Tucker was, was into here when you quoted him, but it's, you know, maybe he was referring to, you know, having Robert Putnam thrown at him, I don't know, but it's just like, that is the thing that convicts you of white supremacy. There's so many people who are going to be defenestrated but yeah, I'm
just to be clear, I mean, I, you may be misreading the context here. I, I didn't write this to say, here is my view of what's happening inside Tucker Carlson's brain And again, this is literally one paragraph. It's not a book about Tucker Carlson, but I'm happy to stick on this example if you want to
know, but but the point is that you can't just look at the effects in the world that met matters what a person's actual intentions are, because you almost sort of did it with Robert Putnam here. When I referenced Robert Putnam you said, Yeah, the the white supremacist I know keep banging on about him as though some of that odium spread to Putnam. No, I mean, that right. And I
know you're imputing meaning to me that I didn't
at least that's the effect of the way he said it on me. Right. And I would imagine some listeners, like there's something shady about Putnam, if he can be used in that way. Putnam has zero control over what people do with his work. And you might think well, that you know, knowing that you should decide to avoid certain topics because you don't know how the facts are going to come out. That's a separate topic, but that mean that I would probably agree with you for certain topics. But if we're not going to really care about what someone meant, you know, we're just going to play connect the dots with some stream of effects in the world, originating with what they said or can be made to seem to originate with what they said, Well, again, no one is going to survive that moral calculus.
Yeah. So I, I do want to be really clear. I mean, again, this is going pretty far afield. I don't mention Robert Putnam, in the book. I feel like kind of the ghost hovering over all of this is the ghost of Charles Murray, who I also don't mention in the book, and I know this is colored by the experience you've had with this stuff. And I think that's fair. You know, we all filter things through our personal experience, but
Well, I would say I mean, that's a totally fair point. I would just say that, because I've had this experience and because of, you know, I have this podcast and I'm in conversation with so many people around this and I just see that this is a virtually universal experience, and it's an experience it's not showing up in a way that most People can notice it. I mean, a lot of this has happened in private. I mean this, like so just to connect this to Charles Murray for a second. This was the experience of having heard from some of the most famous scientists in the world in the aftermath of that podcast saying, I'm completely on your side here. This is absolutely despicable what's being done to you. And what was done to Charles was absolutely despicable. But of course, I'm not going to say I can't say that in public. Right. And so you don't you know, I mean, I'm sure you as a journalist could go fishing for that and probably discover that. And this is where people like Mike cernovich are right. You know, it's like, and you know, and Mike cernovich, again, as somebody who I haven't wanted to touch with a 10 foot pole, but the kernel of truth that is animating trumpet, Stan, right, if not worse, has to be dealt with by right thinking, well educated, well intentioned people like ourselves. It has to be dealt with honestly. Otherwise. As we're completely fucked,
I agree with that. And I, I think we might differ about how we should deal with it. And I think maybe I'm just a little bit less completely allergic to saying things that might anger white people than you are I mean,
but that's never the filter. For me. Again, that's it's not about matter of anger and white people want it's a matter of not being honest about facts, to it's a matter of using a test that's going to snare many, many innocent people white, black, brown, whatever. I mean, like the people who will get canceled if we have the wrong algorithm for our, you know, our racism detector, we already see this happening. I mean, the thing that I'm really reacting to that I keep encountering on the left is this ends justifies the means kind of principle so you just got to break a lot of eggs to make this omelet and I'm not going to worry About the person who I know is not racist who just had his career destroyed around charges of racism, or the person who got me to who I know was just, you know, making a dad joke. I think that's what's happening on the left, and Trump wins that every time.
Well, yeah, look, I mean, I think we we've both agreed that there are dangers to setting various bars too high or too low. And I think where we're disagreeing is on which trade offs are preferable. I grant you that there are some people who are not conscious of their racism. There are some people you mentioned people who would think oh, if you're calling Tucker Carlson racist, I will find that ridiculous because I like Tucker Carlson. And I don't think he's racist. I grant you that that's possible. But I also think some subset of those people are more racist than they realize and I don't want to be in the position of Grand Vizier of deciding who's racist and who's not I don't think that's productive and and I really don't Ever in the book, I talk about people's heart of hearts beliefs that when I don't know what they are, I actually just don't even think that's all that valuable as a way of thinking about this stuff. I don't actually really believe in free will. So I don't I don't think it's that important. Obviously. Look, I, on some level, I act as though I believe in free will. And to return to our earlier topic, I definitely, on some level want people to be held accountable for their actions. And so on that level, of course, intentions matter. But I don't think intentions are the only thing or in a lot of cases even the main thing, I think it might actually be clarifying if I if I read that Tucker Carlson paragraph, because I think that there that'll clear up some of the confusion.
Before you do that. Let me just tell you why I think intentions are so important because intentions and again, and you know, I famously at this point, also don't believe in free will, right, but it doesn't make these kinds of conversations any less important, right? I agree. intentions matter, because they are the only thing that indicates what the person really wants to accomplish and what they would do if, if they could do what they wanted. And, you know, which is to say, you know, as they get more power, the only guide to what the future will look like in their company is, what their actual goals are, what their actual aspirations are. And so, you know, it matters if somebody is really a white supremacist, though they're not admitting it. Or if you have a bad, you know, racist detector, and it's on you, right?
Well, yes. And no, I mean, I think it'll add a lot of points. In our conversation. I've kind of wanted to make the lines between things a little more fuzzy than then I think I'm hearing you make them. I mean, I think you've had a few sort of very stark binary distinctions that I just don't think, reflect reality very well. And I think this is one of them. You know, the the distinction between someone Who is an out and out white supremacist and wants to exterminate all non white races but and someone who has you call it as an innocent Archie Bunker type racist? I don't think that's as firm a distinction as you seem to think it is not. Now, I want to be careful. I'm not saying that every Archie Bunker really wants to exterminate everyone. That's not at all what I'm saying.
It can be a continuum, but it's a fairly binary claim or allegation to make to say that someone like Tucker Carlson is dog whistling on his show to white supremacist. All right, well,
let me let me read the paragraph. And I really think that'll clear up the confusion because I didn't say dog whistling. I didn't say what was in his heart. I didn't say what his intention was. So let me read the paragraph. And for context, it comes on page 312, of a long book that that where I'm getting to is wrapping up, where I think we're at in terms of our national discourse. Now the purpose of this as you know from reading the book, this passage is not to say okay, in my long litany of diet neuroses of who are the bad people in America? It is now time for me to come to Tucker Carlson, that is absolutely not. The context, the context is me trying to come to some sort of, not conclusion, but some kind of ending note about what has happened to our national discourse. The preoccupation of the book, or one of them is the hijacking of the national conversation what what Richard Rorty calls our national vocabulary and and what has become of it. And so I'm really much more concerned with broadly speaking vocabularies than I am with condemning individual people for what's in their heart. So, in that context, what it says is the alt right talking points kept drifting toward the center of the national vocabulary. They were repeated again and again by youtubers by talk radio hosts, even by sitting members of Congress, and they're referring to Steve King in a footnote. And here's the Tucker part. Virginia has transformed politically because it has been transformed demographically. Tucker Carlson the most popular cable anchor in his time. said in November 2017 12% of Virginia is foreign born and that has made all the difference. they've replaced you. Like Roy Moore, who I referred to above, Carlson was making a naked appeal to white racial grievance. The word you could only have referred to white people. The word replaced seemed like a clear allusion to the alt rights, great replacement theory, the substance of many of the slogans and chants in Charlottesville.
I am bending over backwards to be charitable to Tucker here, but you can read you differently there. I mean, he said 12% are foreign born. So you is not just white people. You is anyone who is not foreign born. Anyone who was born a US citizen.
So you think he's talking to all the black descendants of slaves who are republican voting Tucker Carlson viewers,
if he said he was how could you dispute it?
I mean, but this is why trolling is effective because I can't prove anything. I can just know that The clear sense of what you're saying, I
mean, trolling exists clearly because there's evidence of it and people talk about doing it. And you have some of these people talking in your book. But trolling requires another layer of metacognition and intent and, you know, cognitive bandwidth to be running in the background, right? Like your insincerity is, is taking up some of your cognitive overhead, and it's kind of like lying, right? Like, so if somebody is lying, they're playing a different game than then when they're just misspeaking, right, or they're just confused. And, and, in this case, it's a very specific allegation to make about someone like Tucker Carlson, that he's trolling here or that he's dog whistling or the history of consciously walking a tightrope that he can walk on Fox News without getting in trouble. But really, he's got something far more sinister that he's communicating to the people who are already in the know. Yeah, I
mean, I guess I will would grant you that if the claim is that to say, Virginia has transformed politically because it has been transformed demographically. they've replaced you.
And and that you want to make you, you, you indigenous Virginians.
Well, we're not talking about indigenous Virginians. They were killed when the white people got to Virginia. But if nobody but
he's not setting his wayback machine that far. He's talking about the people who are not recent immigrants to the country. Yeah. Again, I'm channeling Tucker here who knows what he's saying. But I'm just saying it's susceptible to a different reading.
Yeah. And I guess what I would say is, lots of things are susceptible to different readings, I still think that we can't be so eager to find alternative explanations that we don't account for the likelier explanations. I think we can keep track of all the potential explanations and you know, I wouldn't sign an affidavit saying I know what was happening in Tucker Carlson's heart when he said these words that's why I didn't write that in my book. I just think it's just a little bit of a, of a self defeating exercise to say, Yeah, he could be. I mean, when he talks about political transformation here, it's just a fact that white people in Virginia vote republican more often the non white people. So to take the potential explanation that he's actually talking about non white citizens. I just it's possible, but I just don't see how it's more plausible than the than the more obvious explanation.