Why Tucker Carlson Is More Like David Duke Than You Think

His leaked text message echoes the blatant white supremacy of America’s most infamous racist

Tim Wise


David Duke, 1970s, while Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Wikimedia Commons

As a general rule, I am reluctant to compare people with David Duke.

Having spent the early years of my career in the campaigns to defeat Duke when he ran for U.S. Senate and Governor of Louisiana, I am well aware of his affinity for Hitlerian race theory and Nazi-like anti-Semitism.

And I am clear that there are degrees of racism, such that suggesting Duke is no different than Reagan, Bush, Trump, or whomever — an argument I’ve heard made many times — amounts to hyperbole of a particularly uninformed variety.

Duke used to throw birthday parties for Adolf Hitler, even buying a cake for the occasion.

So far as I know, he may still.

He said Jews should go into the ashbin of history in a 1986 interview, a portion of which we turned into a radio ad which you can listen to here.

He has called for “Aryan warriors” to take back America from those who have, in his mind, despoiled it — this in his autobiography.

That makes him categorically different from, say, Ann Coulter or Matt Walsh or any number of boilerplate right-wingers, however ghoulishly racist their views may well be.

But here’s the thing.

Precisely because I’m so familiar with Duke’s ideology, I was especially struck by Tucker Carlson’s recently leaked text message, in which he suggested that when white men deploy violence, we do it honorably — unlike, one supposes, Black folks, who ambush innocent people in gang-like fashion.

As a reminder, here is what Tucker said after witnessing a video of three Trump supporters brutally beating an anti-fascist protester.

It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it.

Not only is the comment historically absurd — white men have long fought and used…



Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)