John McWhorter – The Immigration Debate after Buffalo
This week, I’m back with my friend John McWhorter. A lot has happened since we last spoke, so let’s get to it.
We begin by discussing the horrific, racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. John states that, among other things, the event makes him wish we had a word besides “racism” to help us distinguish between truly racist acts like that shooting and situations where there may be racial disparities but no actual racism present. One of the shooter’s motivations was so-called “great replacement” theory, or the idea that there is a conspiracy on the part of Democrats or Jews or whoever to “replace” large parts of the white population in the US with Latino immigrants. Tucker Carlson has given much airtime to a version of this theory (though without any overt antisemitism), and I’ve appeared on one of Tucker Carlson’s shows in the past. John asks me if I think Tucker is indirectly responsible for stirring up ugly sentiments toward immigrants of the short held by the shooter. I respond that, while I don’t endorse everything Tucker says on his show, I don’t believe him to be a racist. After all, Democrats often point to the impact that the country’s shifting demographics may have on elections. We need to be able to debate the immigration issue on its merits. It’s perfectly legitimate to believe that we need tighter controls on who is allowed to live in this country, and one ought to be able to say so without being charged with racism or xenophobia. We move on to last week’s Bradley Prize ceremony, where I received the honor and delivered a speech. John recounts a time when a white woman condescendingly gave him a book by Walter Mosley in an attempt to “educate” him. The incident turned John off of Mosley’s writing, but he’s come back to it, and he is delighted by what he’s found. (When is Mosley going to get a Pulitzer or a National Book Award? It’s past time!) And finally, we discuss the difficult problem of mass shootings, mental illness, and the second amendment.
I grab hold of more than one third rail in this one. As always, I want to hear your thoughts. Post them below!
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0:00 John: We need a word besides “racism” to distinguish racial inequities from what happened in Buffalo
10:49 Glenn: I don’t agree with everything Tucker Carlson says, but he’s not a racist
20:22 Demographic change is happening in the US, but how should we understand it?
28:07 What does Tucker think he’s doing and what is he actually doing?
36:21 Glenn: We should be able to freely debate immigration policy without evoking racial tropes
46:31 Glenn accepts the Bradley Prize at the organization’s gala
51:13 How a white woman’s condescension stopped John from reading Walter Mosley
57:42 Can we disentangle incidents like the Buffalo shooting from ideology?
1:02:34 A correction from Glenn