In an interview with the New York Times published Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-NY) dismissed the influence of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the four breakout freshman lawmakers who last month voted against a GOP- and Democratic leadership-backed $4.6 billion border bill that gives more money to Trump’s immigration enforcement agency. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said in response to their decision to break with her on the bill. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
Using their “public whatever,” Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib pushed back against Pelosi’s comments, bringing themselves to the forefront of the news cycle.
Tucker Carlson was waiting for them. The Fox News host devoted time on his first two shows of the week to making clear that he feels the lawmakers are speaking out of turn. Considering Carlson’s history of attacking immigrants and people of color, it isn’t difficult to figure out why.
On Tuesday night, Carlson took aim at Omar, an immigrant from Somalia who last November became (along with Tlaib) the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. Like her colleagues who voted against the bill, Omar has been a vocal critic of the conditions of federal facilities housing migrants at the border.
“Omar isn’t disappointed by America, she’s enraged by it,” Carlson said. “This is an immoral country, she says. She has undisguised contempt for the United States and its people. This should worry you, and not just because Omar is now a sitting member of Congress. Ilhan Omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country. A system designed to strengthen America is instead undermining it. Some of the very people we try hardest to help have come to hate us passionately.”
An absolutely stunning racist attack on @IlhanMN from Tucker. I'm shocked
She is "living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country"
She "is a living fire alarm. A warning to the rest of us that we better change our immigration. Or else" pic.twitter.com/p2IQWsqP5Q
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) July 10, 2019
Feigning confusion, Carlson then wondered if maybe America should be asking more of its immigrants, or if the nation should stop “importing” people nations whose “values are antithetical” to those of the United States. “No country can import large numbers of people who hate it and expect to survive,” he said, going on to call Omar a “fire alarm” signaling what could happen if America doesn’t change its immigration system — presumably to keep out anyone who won’t swear a blood oath to defend the Trump administration’s treatment of migrants at the border.
Omar was quick to respond to the segment. “Not gonna lie, it’s kinda fun watching a racist fool like this weeping about my presence in Congress,” she tweeted. “No lies will stamp out my love for this country or my resolve to make our union more perfect. They will just have to get used to calling me Congresswoman!”
A night earlier, Carlson attacked Reps. Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez, calling their suggestion that more women of color should be represented in Congress “repugnant.”
“Give us power because of our skin color,” he said. “By definition, it is a racist pitch. It’s every bit as repugnant as a white candidate making the same appeal. Many Democrats did make that appeal, that racial appeal, under Jim Crow: Vote for me because of my race. It’s disgusting.”
.@RashidaTlaib: Democrats need to give women of color a seat of the table and listen to our voice
Tucker Carlson: "'Give us power bc of our skin color.' That's the argument Tlaib is making … by definition it is a racist pitch." pic.twitter.com/kEDk2ZtIsZ
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) July 9, 2019
The attacks are not out of character for Carlson, who has emerged as one of the most prolific public racists of the Trump era — to the extent that his show has been losing advertisers. Several jettisoned last December when he said immigrants make America “poor and dirty,” and later juxtaposed migrants with piles of garbage. Even more fled in March after a trove of racist comments he made before joining Fox News was unearthed by Media Matters. Carlson has doubled down in the face of criticism, and Fox News has defended its star host.
The comments Carlson made Tuesday night about Omar being anti-American, however, were eerily reminiscent of the ones that led the network to suspend Jeanine Pirro in March. They even used similar language in questioning her patriotism. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?” Pirro said of Omar. “Maybe we’re importing people from places whose values are simply antithetical to ours,” Carlson said Tuesday.
Will Fox News reprimand Carlson like it did Pirro? The network did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it’s not likely. His ratings are too high.