Tucker Carlson is not Pro-Russian. Here’s why: A common tendency within political discourse is to take an opponent’s position and reframe it as the most extreme version of that position. Here are a few examples: a liberal supports entitlement programs and universal healthcare, so a conservative calls that liberal a communist; a conservative supports stricter border security, so a liberal calls that conservative xenophobic.
There are more subtle examples, too, which similarly disregard nuance: a liberal supports police reforms so a conservative calls that liberal anti-cop; a conservative supports a balanced budget so a liberal calls that conservative austere.
Tucker Carlson Is NOT Pro Russian
It’s an absurd notion – yet it has been deployed regularly, towards anyone who has raised an eyebrow and asked a question about American contributions to the Ukrainian war effort.
The effect has been the effect that the pro-US-writing-Ukraine-a-blank-check crowd intended: chilled debate on whether the US is doing the right thing with respect to Ukraine.
Several prominent figures in the US political landscape are questioning the wisdom of US involvement in the Russo-Ukraine War. The concerns are valid – and the general question should be raised any time the US commits eleven or twelve-figure sums to a foreign conflict: how does this investment serve US interests?
The question serves an important function; the question should spark a good faith debate re: are we doing the right thing?
Unfortunately, the question is typically met with scorn and/or with hyperbolic accusations i.e., Carlson is pro-Putin.
The Isolationism Line…
Another common retort is to smear the person raising questions about US involvement in Ukraine as an isolationist or America First Trumpian. The pro-Putin-style response is pure nonsense. The isolationist response is hyperbole, which blasts through any attempt at nuance. O
Of course, someone could disagree with the concept of sending Ukraine American-made F-16s or of generally prolonging the conflict, without believing in American isolationism as the alternative.
For example, maybe the guy who doesn’t want to send Ukraine F-16s also wants the US to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine – which would be quite the opposite of isolationism – it would be direct diplomatic involvement in the affairs of foreign nations.
The Real Problem
But it’s easier to call the liberal a communist, or the conservative a xenophobe, or Tucker Carlson a Russian puppet, than to engage on the merits.
Engagement requires collaboration and compromise and nuance, all of which are seemingly out of fashion in our polarized, partisan, Twitter-feud fueled political climate. A liberal wouldn’t be caught dead entertaining an idea that Tucker Carlson floated. Vice versa, Tucker Carlson probably wouldn’t be caught dead entertaining an idea that Bernie Sanders floated.
Because an outgrowth of the anti-collaborative, anti-compromise, anti-nuance environment is that an individual who holds one position that you oppose, is completely invalidated on account of that position, regardless of his or her other positions.
What I mean is that a liberal wouldn’t dare engage with Tucker Carlson on Ukraine because of Carlson’s position on Ukraine – but because of Carlson’s position on, say, police reforms, or voting rights; since Carlson’s positions on police reforms are completely untenable to a liberal, for example, Carlson as an entity is discredited, even when he raised a good point.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.