When the left-wing thugs of Antifa tried to break into Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s home Wednesday night—forcing his terrified wife who was home alone to hide in the pantry—at least one high-profile celebrity strongly denounced the assault.
“Fighting Tucker Carlson’s ideas is an American right. Targeting his home and terrorizing his family is an act of monstrous cowardice,” tweeted left-leaning late-night host Stephen Colbert. What he said next was arguably even more important.
“Obviously don’t do this, but also, take no pleasure in it happening,” Colbert said. “Feeding monsters just makes more monsters.”
Colbert’s attempt to inject some sanity and civility into this mess ostensibly came after he watched some on the left relish what was done to Carlson’s family. As deplorable as this is, you didn’t have to look far to find some trying to rationalize it.
Vox writer Matthew Yglesias tweeted, “I think the idea behind terrorizing his family, like it or not as a strategy, is to make them feel some of the fear that the victims of MAGA-inspired violence feel thanks to the non-stop racial incitement coming from Tucker, Trump, etc.”
Yglesias does have a point—and it’s one that could be used to justify virtually any act of violence against politicians and pundits, right or left.
Imagine if right-wing activists had tried to break into democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s home and some conservative tweeted, “I think the idea behind terrorizing her family, like it or not as a strategy, is to make them feel some of the fear that victims of Democrat-sponsored violence—namely the 60 million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade in 1973—might have felt thanks to the non-stop support coming from Cortez, Rachel Maddow, etc.”
That is certainly the logic of those who shoot abortion doctors.
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When someone asked Yglesias what the sense was in terrorizing of Carlson’s family, he responded, “I met a woman who didn’t leave the house for months because she was afraid of being picked up by ICE and never seeing her US citizen kids and husband again.”
“What sense was there in terrorizing her family?” Yglesias asked.
Imagine an anti-war activist attempting to break into Barack Obama’s home and scaring his wife Michelle into hiding in a pantry. Imagine someone justifiably disturbed by this asking what the sense was in terrorizing the Obama family.
Now imagine another antiwar activist tweeting, “I met a Pakistani woman who was terrified for months because she was afraid of Barack Obama’s drone killing campaign and worried that one day she would never see her kids and husband again. What sense was there in terrorizing her family?”
A certain type of person could say that Obama and his family deserved such treatment just as Antifa deduced that Carlson did. This is a dangerous mental path to travel.
Such logic was used by Cesar Sayoc, who mailed bombs to Democratic members of Congress and liberal figures last month. It was used by James Hodgkinson, who opened fire on Republican members of Congress last year as they practiced for the congressional baseball game.
This is not healthy. No matter how strongly you feel about your political cause, you should never encourage violence. Those with influence across the ideological spectrum should denounce such behavior. Kudos to Colbert for his online comments about the Carlson incident. It’s a shame our president often does more to incite extremism, however intentionally or unintentionally, than to tamp it down.
While I’m a fan of Tucker Carlson—particularly when he clashes with neoconservatives and promotes a more non-interventionist foreign policy on historically hawkish Fox News—I’m not necessarily onboard with all of his views on immigration. While I want border security, I believe our immigration system is tragically broken in multiple ways, and it is the most vulnerable who suffer most. I don’t believe in dehumanizing anyone, whether it’s unborn children, Pakistanis, immigrants, Republicans, Democrats, conservative television hosts, or progressive journalists.
It’s also easy to make the case, as many activists would, that political stances Right and Left impact real people in real ways. What we believe politically can end up hurting others materially. How we vote and what the government does can change lives.
But to say that such real world impacts are so negative that we should in turn target politicians and pundits who hold positions we don’t like—go to their homes, attack them in the streets, run them out of restaurants—if this becomes an accepted standard, there is literally no end to the horrors that could be justifiably perpetrated in the minds of extremists.
It’s one thing to note that the political often affects the personal. It’s quite another to make everything political personal. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Yelling in restaurants might be merely rude, but scaring a television host’s wife in her home is upping the ante. Sending mail bombs might come next. Shooting at congressman might not be far behind.
And then what?
Such violence begins with the same kind of morally relative logic that is the germ of all terrorism. Tucker Carlson and his family are but the latest victims of this dangerous trend, and it really is scary to think about what might come next.
Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.