Conservative media personality (and former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter) Tucker Carlson weighed in on the Donald Trump KKK brouhaha:
Basically, if you say call out someone's "repugnant bigotry," you're just like Obama. Well, okay then. The implication here is that only a liberal, or a RINO (that's "Republican in Name Only" for the uninitiated) would dare say that pubic figures ought not dance around questions about white supremacist groups, David Duke, and the KKK. Only a RINO can be anti-racist.
This tweet is a perfect encapsulation of why it's so difficult for the GOP to combat Trump when he goes off the reservation and deep into the ugly world of white identity politics. For years, many conservatives have argued that accusations of racism
are a much bigger problem in the United States of America than racism itself; that race hustlers and liberals only pretend to care about race, using racism as a smear; that anti-racists are the real racists. And so on.
As these have become foundational beliefs among many GOP base voters, it can hardly be surprising that it doesn't work all that well for folks like Romney to point out Trump's obvious appeals to bigotry. Trump supporters have been encouraged for years by the conservative media to treat all accusations of racism or bigotry as an unfair, liberal conspiracy, as political correctness run amok, as a creation of the evil mainstream media. So when they hear Trump being attacked for appealing to racism, who are they going to believe? If one side is saying "bigot" and the other side is saying "hey, I'm not politically correct" — a huge swatch of voters (and apparently, Tucker Carlson) will reflexively side with the latter.
Carlson is right — Obama, or any number of Democrats, could
have said something like that. Republicans, for years, have too often chosen not too. (Worth noting that Romney sought and received the birther Trump's endorsement in 2012.) Carlson seems to be arguing that being a conservative
means a commitment to letting stuff like Trump's comments fly without complaint. He seems to be arguing that calling out the bigotry of someone like Trump is by definition liberal, or Obama-esque. Calling a black populist racist (Al Sharpton, say) is okay, but you never, ever, ever call a white populist or conservative a racist. That's out of bounds. Only a liberal would do that.
Republicans are trying to name and shame bigotry. But a lot of GOP voters are concluding that all this anti-racism business just sounds like Obama.
Another example of the commitment to the notion that pointing out bigotry is something only liberals do comes from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham: