To compare Tucker Carlson with rats fleeing a sinking ship would be a grave insult to the rodents; they’re both bottom-feeders, but at least rats generally play no part in causing the disaster that they’re trying to escape.
Carlson, on the other hand, is one of the most strident and prominent voices in the newly reenergized right-wing war on the LGBTQ+ community that continues to grow increasingly deadly. The blatant lies and violent rhetoric that Carlson has broadcast this year means that his hands are soaked in the blood of the five queer people who were murdered by a right-wing militant over the weekend in Colorado.
All year, the sour-faced phony has accused the LGBTQ+ community of unspeakably perverse acts and explicitly called for his massive viewership of old cranks and hateful thugs to commit violence against them. The feigned ignorance and false concern with which he led his broadcast on Monday night were salt in the irreparable wounds of the people who lost loved ones in the mass shooting and the community that is being forced to live in terror.
The crocodile tears were immediately followed by Carlson’s trademark jujitsu move to reframe upstanding white conservatives, including himself, as the real victims of violence against minorities. The mass shooting may have taken the lives of five innocent people, the argument goes, but that hardly compares with the damage being done by the suggestion that the bigoted Fox News host might want to reconsider his vitriolic nightly attacks on LGBTQ+ people.
Up the stream from Carlson, the far-right internet hive’s most soulless denizens haven’t even tried to hide their contempt for decency and delight in the murder of five queer people. Weak, insecure men like Matt Walsh, the loser podcast host who made a whole movie about the importance of natural penises, blamed the victims on incel Tonight show, which airs on Ben Shapiro’s streaming network for angry nerds, and it only got more disgusting from there.
The size and intensity of the right-wing media echo chamber are enough to work the most toxic, damaged, and deluded zealots into a violent froth, but it’s the encouragement of elite Republican lawmakers that make these bigotries truly pervasive and exponentially more dangerous.
I saw a CNN chyron late last night that said investigators were still seeking to deduce a possible motive or bias responsible for the deadly terrorist attack on a Colorado drag show that was perpetrated by the grandson of a MAGA-breathing insurrection supporter.
Here are some possibilities:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s relentless smearing of LGBTQ+ people as “groomers,” historically mean-spirited and disastrous “Don’t Say Gay” law; ban on gender affirming care against the advice of all medical experts; and the ongoing war he is waging on drag shows, one of which he very publicly sought to put out of business. (Note: Neo-Nazis have eagerly followed his lead.)
Texas Republicans’ proposed legislation, introduced just last week, to make it a crime for drag events or any performance that includes a transgender performer to permit entry to minors. Last month, AG Ken Paxton sought to prosecute a drag performer for a standard performance at a brunch, then called on the legislature to “amend the Texas Penal Code to expressly prohibit this kind of grossly sexual conduct and empower my office to prosecute when district and county attorneys refuse.”
Even after the massacre, these hateful thugs have not shown an ounce of self-reflection or shame, much less the self-awareness to at least dial back their campaign of hate for earn a moment’s time. Today in Florida, the new GOP Speaker of the House put attacks on the LGBTQ+ community at the top of his opening speech.
There is a straight line that connects that unambiguous intolerance, which is now infused into campaign rhetoric and seemingly legitimized in states’ legal code, to the surge of deadly terror attacks against LGBTQ+ people that continue unabated.
The blood will continue to run down the walls of gay clubs and classrooms, the cries of grief will continue to ring out at active crime scenes and funerals, and the elevated fear will continue to grip communities until these politicians are held to account for what they’re doing.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing to suggest that the national political media will make any effort at all even ask Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, or anyone else in power about their direct roles in the massacres playing out across the country.
A Google News search returns an endless scroll of stories speculating about DeSantis’s plans to run for president in 2024, with zero mention of his ceaseless attacks on the LGBTQ+ community (or his embrace of white nationalism) even after the massacre in Colorado. As that massacre fades from the headlines and we move on to some other uniquely American tragedy, there’s no reason to expect anyone in the press corps will grow a conscience and ask the questions that could prevent such hate from metastasizing further and killing more people.
P.S. This is adapted from a piece in my newsletter, Progress Report. The newsletter focuses in depth on progressive politics and policy, including lots of coverage of state and local governments you won’t get elsewhere, and holds bad Republicans accountable.
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