TO THE delight and relief of millions around the world, Tucker Carlson broke his silence yesterday, courtesy of Elon Musk’s nearly liberated Twitter and perhaps in response to Musk’s offer to give him a new platform there.
Open debate, Carlson said, is no longer allowed on US media: ‘Both parties have reached consensus on what benefits them and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it. Suddenly the United States looks very much like a one-party state.’ At the time of writing (midday yesterday) this one and half minutes had been viewed more than 38million times.
‘When honest people say what’s true they become powerful’, he goes on. For a fearful establishment with its huge vested interest in the fraudulent status quo, Carlson’s truth turned him into a terrible one man threat. It was only a matter of time, his huge popularity being both his defence and the catalyst of his downfall.
And don’t underestimate his appeal and reach. Tucker Carlson Tonight, a top-rated programme since 2016, a leading programme among the 25-54 demographic with millions of viewers per episode, in March drew the highest audience on cable TV, averaging 3.251million viewers per show, Epoch Times reports. Carlson’s increasingly forthright, counter establishment critiques were making him more popular not less. Following their Carlson announcement the Fox Corporation took a nearly $1billion hit.
So why did they risk this? Theories abound – to damage Trump’s re-election prospects being the most popular. But that still does not explain the sudden timing or what triggered it. That the motive has been around for a while is clear, but what was the cue? It seems to me that it’s more than probable that it was the speech he gave to the Heritage Foundation, America’s leading conservative think tank, after last Friday’s show (which turned out to be his final show), about society-wide spiritual and moral decay, that did it for him.
Delivered at the Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration, Carlson’s speech was not just a political or a social and cultural critique, but a full-on in your face spiritual rebuke. At its core is his belief (that many of us have also arrived at) that present-day battle is no longer one between policy options but, quite simply, between good and evil. This, not from a ‘devout’ man, went viral.
It is a remarkable speech in that it is manifestly about virtue, faith and spirituality and their total collapse in America’s leadership and establishment. It is a terrible indictment. I suspect it may have proved too much for the Murdoch digestion.
Referring first to the honesty of Kevin Roberts, the President of the Heritage Foundation, Carlson starts with a blast at the falseness of those running Washington institutions, invoking God, the while: ‘The key question about anybody who runs any institution in Washington is: How false is this person?
‘God sends messages . . . There clearly is meaning. The point is the man who runs Heritage is not false at all. In fact, my assessment of him was, he’s completely real. He’s an honest person. He means it. He’s not playing a role.’
His uncompromising moral and spiritual attack on the leadership of the institutions he grew up with continues.
‘The people remain noble and decent . . . We have good people. We have terrible people in charge. And not just of our government, but of the institutions that I grew up in, the Episcopal church, my high school, I can just go on and on and on. They’re all run by weak people.’
He chides us for failing to understand the first lesson of history (that we failed to grasp following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of a conflict that ‘every part of our politics revolved around’) which is that: ‘Nothing is permanent except our own demise and God’.’ We didn’t get that.
His explanation of things he would have thought impossible in his country is framed in these terms: ‘If you told me then that [last] week the Department of Justice would’ve indicted a group of people – people I don’t agree with, by the way, on a lot of different issues, black nationalist, socialists from Florida, not my demographic – but would’ve indicted them for criticizing the US position, the Biden administration’s position on the war in Ukraine and charged them with felonies for which they’re each facing ten years in prison, if you told me that could happen here, I would’ve laughed at you . . .
‘You look around and you see so many people break under the strain, under the downward of whatever this is that we are going through. And you look with disdain and sadness as you see people you know become quislings. You see them revealed as cowards. You see them going along with the new, new thing which is clearly a poisonous thing, a silly thing. You know, saying things you know they don’t believe because they want to keep their jobs. If there’s a single person in this room who hasn’t seen that through George Floyd, Covid and the Ukraine war, raise your hand. Oh, nobody? Right. You all know what I’m talking about.’
Though he says ‘the country’s really going at high speed in the wrong direction’ in ways that are unfathomable, exactly what he does in his speech is to fathom them: ‘You’re so disappointed in people. You are. And you realize that the herd instinct is maybe the strongest instinct. I mean, it may be stronger than the hunger and sex instincts, actually . . . And it takes over, unfortunately, in moments like this, and it’s harnessed, in fact, by bad people in moments like this to produce uniformity. And you see people going along with this, and you lose respect for them. And that’s certainly happened to me at scale over the past three years.’
He explains that there is no longer any rational debate: it is a myth. The war he says we are engaged in is a spiritual one and we need to change our understanding to that. Carlson is clear – it is not about left or right, not about the best outcomes of this or that policy, but (dreadfully) about good versus evil.
And that, the mindset we need or must face up to, I think, was the trigger for his dismissal.
The rest of the main part of this great speech follows here:
‘I don’t think we’re watching a debate over how to get to the best outcome. I think that’s completely wrong. And I should say at the outset, I’m an Episcopalian, so don’t take any theological advice from me because I don’t have any. I grew up in the shallowest faith tradition that’s ever been invented. It’s not even a Christian religion at this point, I say with shame. But I’m just saying this as an observer of what’s going on. There is no way to assess, say, the transgender movement with that mind-set. Policy papers don’t account for it at all. If you have people who are saying, “I have an idea. Let’s castrate the next generation. Let’s sexually mutilate children”, I’m sorry, that’s not a political debate. What? That’s nothing to do with politics. What’s the outcome we’re desiring here? An androgynous population? Are we arguing for that? I don’t think anyone could defend that as a positive outcome, but the weight of the government and a lot of corporate interests are behind that. Well, what is that? Well, it’s irrational.
‘If you say, “Well, I think abortion is always bad. Well, I think sometimes it’s necessary”, that’s a debate I’m familiar with. But if you’re telling me that abortion is a positive good, what are you saying? Well, you’re arguing for child sacrifice, obviously. It’s not about, oh, a teen girl gets pregnant, and what do we do about that and victims of rape. I get it. Of course, I understand that, and I have compassion for everyone involved. But when the Treasury secretary stands up and says, “You know what you can do to help the economy? Get an abortion”. Well, that’s like an Aztec principle, actually. There’s not a society in history that didn’t practise human sacrifice. Not one. I checked. Even the Scandinavians, I’m ashamed to say. It wasn’t just the Meso-Americans, it was everybody. So that’s what that is.
‘Well, what’s the point of child sacrifice? Well, there’s no policy goal entwined with that. No, that’s a theological phenomenon.
‘And that’s kind of the point I’m making. None of this makes sense in conventional political terms. When people, or crowds of people, or the largest crowd of people at all, which is the federal government, the largest human organization in human history, decide that the goal is to destroy things, destruction for its own sake, “Hey, let’s tear it down”, what you’re watching is not a political movement. It’s evil.
‘So, if you want to assess . . . I’ll put it in non-political or rather non-specific theological terms, and just say, if you want to know what’s evil and what’s good, what are the characteristics of those?
‘And by the way, I think the Athenians would have agreed with this. This is not necessarily just a Christian notion, this is kind of a, I would say, widely agreed upon understanding of good and evil. What are its products? What do these two conditions produce? Well, I mean, good is characterized by order, calmness, tranquillity, peace, whatever you want to call it, lack of conflict, cleanliness. Cleanliness is next to godliness. It’s true. It is.
‘And evil is characterized by their opposites. Violence, hate, disorder, division, disorganization and filth. So, if you are all in on the things that produce the latter basket of outcomes, what you’re really advocating for is evil. That’s just true. I’m not calling for religious war. Far from it. I’m merely calling for an acknowledgement of what we’re watching, which is not one . . .
‘And I’m certainly not backing the Republican Party. I mean, ugh. I’m not making a partisan point at all. I’m just noting what’s super-obvious. Those of us who were in our mid-50s are caught in the past in the way that we think about this. One side’s like, “No, no, I’ve got this idea, and we’ve got this idea, and let’s have a debate about our ideas”.
‘They don’t want a debate. Those ideas won’t produce outcomes that any rational person would want under any circumstances. Those are manifestations of some larger force acting upon us. It’s just so obvious. It’s completely obvious. And I think two things: One, we should say that and stop engaging in these totally fraudulent debates, where we are using the terms that we used in 1991 when I started at [The Heritage Foundation], as if maybe I could just win the debate if I marshalled more facts. I’ve tried. That doesn’t work. And two, maybe we should all take just ten minutes a day to say a prayer about it. I’m serious. Why not?
‘And I’m saying that to you not as some kind of evangelist, I’m literally saying that to you as an Episcopalian, the Samaritans of our time. I’m coming to you from the most humble and lowly theological position you can. I’m literally an Episcopalian. And even I have concluded it might be worth taking just ten minutes out of your busy schedule to say a prayer for the future, and I hope you will.’
The question and answers that followed can be accessed here.