The Trump Era does have one upside: people now feel comfortable saying the quiet parts out loud. You no longer have to decipher what they're really aboutâ€”they'll just tell you straight-up. That's why it's a more and more common experience to wake up and see that one of the fabulously rich resentment-peddlers on the president's favorite news network spent the previous evening spouting unabashed white nationalism on-air. Usually, it's Tucker Carlson who pops up on Fox News to rail against "demographic changes" in Americaâ€”that is, non-white people immigrating here. That kind of rhetoric has earned Carlson praise from Richard Spencer and David Duke.
But Laura Ingraham certainly gave Carlson a run for his money Wednesday night, unleashing a nakedly white nationalist rant that suggested "the America we know and love" has been destroyed by "massive demographic changes" due to both illegal and legal immigration:
This is no longer a dogwhistle. Ingraham is saying outright that allowing non-white people to come hereâ€”and, down the line, threaten the majority power enjoyed by White Americaâ€”is tantamount to destroying America. In this formulation, what defines the United States is its whiteness, or at least the idea that white people are at the center of American life. Which they are, for now. To Ingraham, America is not a daring experiment in self-government based on the principles of liberty, equality before the law, and self-determination, which anyone can be a part of if they work hard and buy into these values. White people got here firstâ€”ignore those pesky Native Americans!â€”so it's white people's turf.
Like the Trump administration, which has tried to cut even legal immigration by any means possible, Ingraham is no longer pantomiming about how illegal immigration is the problem. The problem for these folks is that Certain People are coming here, full stop. They want more people from Norway, or they don't want anyone coming at all. You can tell because Ingraham backed her soliloquy with footage of...people farming? That seems like a pretty traditional American activity. Ah, but everyone featured in the video playing as you say "the America we know and love" is gone...is Latino. And now you're showing people climbing a border fence.
"None of us ever voted for" this, Ingraham said, apparently pining for the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act. No one needs to vote in favor of new people coming to America. It is the story of America. This discussion used to center on how we can better enforce our immigration laws. Now it's about whether anyone should be allowed in at all.
Ingraham went on to highlight the case of one undocumented immigrant who committed child rape as part of an attack on Philadelphia as a sanctuary city. This is a classic ploy among propagandistsâ€”to highlight one horrific occurrence and present it as representative of an entire group. That is why the president, and Fox News, continually highlight MS-13 when discussing immigration, even though MS-13 makes up a tiny percentage of immigrantsâ€”and of the nation's gang membersâ€”and undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native citizens. (Meanwhile, ICE arrests of noncriminal immigrants have skyrocketed.) Oh, and the very basis for the current immigration crisis is bunk: illegal border crossings are at historic lows, a fraction of the level during the 1990s.
But none of that matters to the Fox News resentment hounds. They're railing against legal immigration now. A new study, picked up by Vox, indicates that reminding white people they are losing majority statusâ€”and powerâ€”due to changing demographics in America makes them more hostile to social safety net programs that benefit poor minorities. Fox News has known this for decades, and has sold white resentment as a primary product. After all, it serves a double purpose: give viewers what they want, and turn them towards policies favored by the corporate class that actually makes Republican Party policy.
But perhaps the most telling part of Ingraham's monologue last night came before the true white nationalist section. It came as she took on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Socialist from New York who seems to drive right-wingers a special brand of insane. Surely it's a coincidence that it was Ocasio-Cortez, an increasingly powerful Puerto Rican star in Democratic politics, who launched Ingraham on this rant about the demographic destruction of America.
Anyway, the Fox host had this to say:
As if she knows all of America from her loft in Queens.
This really has it all. There's the "loft" description to suggest Ocasio-Cortez is living the lap of luxury, even though Queens is far from New York's wealthiest bureau. On the flip side, Ingraham is worth tens of millions of dollars, and like every other Populist Conservative Personality, is set up in a major coastal city. (Ingraham's studio is in Washington, D.C. So is Carlson's. Tomi Lahren lives in Los Angeles. Sean Hannity works out of Manhattan.) But then there's the idea Queens is not part of Real America.
The subtext here, of course, is that Queens is some alien entity. But there are Real American White People in Queens, tooâ€”they just live alongside people with roots all over the world. One three-block section of Queens is home to people who came there from 51 nations, the vast majority of whom came here to work hard and find a better life for themselves and their families. To those who believe America is a nation for anyone willing to buy into the values and the promise of the American Experiment, of course Queens is Real America. So, too, is Iowa, so long as being an Iowan is about what you believe and how you behave, not your complexion or when your great-grandfather got off the boat.