Sunday, November 06, 2022


A Tucker Carlson clip was making the rounds yesterday.
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson and former ESPN journalist Jason Whitlock drew criticism Friday for an exchange about the brutal hammer attack that hospitalized Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), last week.

Whitlock, who now works for conservative outlet The Blaze, expressed faux indignation on behalf of Nancy Pelosi before alluding to a baseless conspiracy theory that the Friday assault at the couple’s San Francisco home, which left her husband requiring surgery for a fractured skull, was the result of an argument with a gay lover.
Here's the clip:

Whitlock claims that Pelosi had breast enlargement surgery (an absurd rumor based on a swimsuit photo of Pelosi on vacation), but says her husband is instead having gay sex with a man who, news reports tell us, had a Black Lives Matter sign in his window even as his own politics trended very, very far to the right.

But note one particular phrase Whitlock uses:
What I have to stand up and defend, I’m outraged for Nancy Pelosi. This woman has taken the hard-earned money she’s made from insider trading and invested in a pair of cans at 82 years old and comes home to find out that her husband’s playing hide the hammer with a Black Lives Matter guy? You talk about disrupting the nuclear family. The Black Lives Matter crew must be ecstatic because this guy’s doing it and so is Paul Pelosi.
And again:
She’s trying to entice her husband, but he’s interested in playing hide the hammer on a Friday night with some weirdo! I think there's some issue. This is what needs to be investigated. This is the whole endgame for Black Lives Matter: disrupting the nuclear family, start with the Speaker of the House.
Where does this come from?

Two years ago, after a summer of protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, and not long after polls began showing that Black Lives Matter had broad national support, the right-wing media seized on wording that had appeared on BLM's website but was removed. Fox News reported in September 2020:
The official website of Black Lives Matter (BLM) has dropped its controversial call to "disrupt" the "nuclear family structure."

... the organization "quietly deleted" its "What We Believe" page, which laid out a list of its objectives.

One of those objectives, which many critics of BLM highlighted, read: "We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and 'villages' that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable."
You can see the old wording archived here. It doesn't appear on the site's current "About" page.

It really isn't anti-family language, and it certainly isn't saying make everyone gay so there won't be any traditional familes anymore. But that's the ridiculous right-wing interpretation.

The language disappeared from the BLM website two years ago and yet "disrupting the nuclear family" is still a punchline on the right. But this is how it conservative messaging works: Right-wing commentators, politicians, and operaives seize on certain phrases, repeat them endlessly, and then the phrases embody right-wingers' grievances. They rally the base with outrage.

You can see this with the phrase "mostly peaceful." In Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020, a CNN reporter reported from a demonstration in response to a police shooting of a Black resident. The reporter said (correctly) that demonstrations in the city had been peaceful during the daytime, but that wasn't the case after nightfall. He said this in front of a burning building while a chyron at the bottom of screen read, FIERY BUT MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTS AFTER POLICE SHOOTING. And now every Republican in America uses the phrase "mostly peaceful" contemptuously, to mock the mainstream media and to make the case that liberals have a monopoly on political violence. (January 6 was "mostly peaceful," har har har!)

And I've told you about their obsession with Barack Obama's claim in a 2016 campaign speech that his impending election put us on the verge of "fundamentally transforming" America. To right-wingers, "fundamental transforamtion" means the Great Replacement, deliberate depopulation, the substitution of Marxism for capitalism, the destruction of the Christianity and the heterosexual nuclear family, and all kinds of other things Democrats aren't actually doing but they're sure the party wants.

There's power in using phrases to rally people's anger. Republicans know it. And so rank-and-file GOP voters memorize these phrases the way people in Maoist China learned aphorisms from the Little Red Book.

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