I have no idea what’s more shocking — that in the post-Anthony Weiner world, public figures are still managing to send “kick me” sign garnering tweets, or that Tucker Carlson’s website the Daily Caller made a direct reference to a Prodigy album.
Gangster rap and bow ties generally make for strange bedfellows, after all. Nevertheless, yesterday afternoon the Daily Caller official twitter account tweeted the following before quickly deleting it (no doubt cursing that Twitter lacks G-mail’s life saving “undo” button):
In brief, the tweet was in reference to a story the Daily Caller is running about an obscure upstart Indian-American rapper calling himself “Rhymes Priebus,” a play on the current RNC Chairman’s name. Various news sites immediately pounced on the Daily Caller’s use of “HNIC,” with Wonkette going so far as to juxtapose the story next to a KKK member and a burning cross (reeaaaally subtle guys). At this point, though, that an organization that is essentially Carlson’s brainchild made a brazen and stereotypically I’m-a-racially-insensitive-aloof-white-person kind of gaffe should induce yawns rather than bombshells. Jon Stewart described what I think of the kind of quasi-journalistic hackery Carlson and his ilk on BOTH sides of the aisle represent better than I ever could.
But as easy as it is to characterize Carlson’s Daily Caller as a devil, it’s less Hades and more Pain and Panic in scope here. We could catalog the failures in this tweet: the typo on "our/out"; the banality-of-evil style racism; the decision that a story about a twenty-something rapper no one has heard of is in any way newsworthy; and did I mention that the Daily Caller just made a Prodigy reference? But add them all up, and we still have only about two quarters worth of dirty laundry here. If the Caller’s use of “HNIC” had been in reference to Priebus’s skin color, then pandemonium and moral indignation would be all right and good. But there’s nothing in the tweet to suggest as much, and I’m sympathetic to the idea that going into moral defcon-1 at every single politically incorrect faux pas is counterproductive for honest, open discourse in the long run.
This is not to say I’m in any way trying to gloss over that it’s usually just plain wrong for white people to use the N-word (even if it was only in an acronym of a song name). The problems with white people using the N-word and the kinds of cultures of subordination created through dehumanizing speech have been well documented in thousands of pieces of academic and popular literature over the years, so there’s no point in trying to trod that well-worn ground here.
But I have a feeling that continuing to blast his site for this would, in some deep, dark place in his soul, make Tucker Carlson happy anyway — the man clearly loves getting attention. I propose we quickly and collectively denounce this tweet and then quietly stop giving him any.*
*Yes, I understand that it's paradoxical to draw attention to something to say we should ignore it. I'm sorry OK?