Fox News host Tucker Carlson told a guest on Wednesday that he truly understands racism and oppression for black Americans. Carlson, who is white, said that he understands the phenomenon because he is an American. Carlson interviewed retired NFL player Freddie Mitchell about football players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem before games. San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick, a black man, was among the most notable NFL players to take to one knee rather than stand with the rest of his team in a salute to the American flag. 

Carlson addressed an incident involving a team of 8-year-old football players who kneeled recently during the anthem, rather than standing reverently. "And what does that mean for our future?" Carlson said on his evening show. "These kids are the future, just like those loopy college kids you see on the show once in a while. What's this country going to be like in 30 years, when they're in control and have been taught all this nonsense? It's terrifying."

Carlson said that while he supports freedom of speech, kneeling during the anthem is an assault on an American symbol. In response, Mitchell, who is black, said "The oppression that African-Americans and other races are getting in America, it's bad." Mitchell went on to say, "And I think America can be, it can be great again if you stop the racial profiling, if you stop a lot of things that’s happening in America. We can both stand now."

In response, Carlson said, “It just seems like an overstatement. I understand people are upset about specific cases where people are killed by the police."

"But Tucker, you could never understand. You could never understand. You don’t live it," Mitchell said.

"Well, actually I can understand ‘cause I am an American, OK, whatever," Carlson said. 

When Mitchell attempted to interject, Carlson spoke over him, saying, "Hey, slow down. I'm an American, and I have... Don't pull that crap on me."

When Mitchell told him it wasn't crap, Carlson said he understood that "some things are upsetting." Mitchell said, "You can understand that, but I live it though." Mitchell said. 

The pee-wee football team in question in Illinois had discussed Kaepernick’s protests. According to their coach, Orlando Gooden, some of the children had spoken to him about Kaepernick and protests against police in St. Louis, asking if they could mimic Kaerpernick. Gooden told a local TV station, "I felt like it was a good teaching moment for me to circle the team and have a meeting.

Here follows a partial transcript:

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): First and most obvious, there's no way these 8-year-olds decided to do this by themselves. Eight-year-olds are not that political. So who is using them to make a political statement like that? Adults. That's of course wrong, just like those videos of kids swearing at Donald Trump were wrong. Really? Keep the kids out of it. What message are the adults sending, by the way? They aren't actually saying anything specific about police brutality or any other issue. These kids are being used to attack a symbol of the country itself. The point they're making, or the adults behind all this are making is that America is illegitimate. And if that's what they're learning when they grow up, why will they care about this country, about defending it in a war, for example, or paying taxes or following the law. Why would you do any of those things if the country is illegitimate? And what does that mean for our future? These kids are the future, just like those loopy college kids you see on the show once in a while. What's this country going to be like in 30 years when they're in control and have been taught all this nonsense? It's terrifying.

[…]

FREDDIE MITCHELL: The oppression that African-Americans and other races are getting in America, it's bad. And America, I think, it can be great again if you stop the racial profiling, if you stop a lot of things that’s happening in America and really stand for -- we can both stand now.

CARLSON: It just seems like an overstatement. And I understand people are upset about specific cases where people are killed by the police.

MITCHELL: But Tucker you could never understand, you could never understand, because you don’t live it.

CARLSON: Well, actually I can understand because I am an American, OK, whatever. I am an American. 

MITCHELL: Tucker, Tucker, Tucker –

CARLSON: Hey, slow down. 

MITCHELL: You can whatever me, though. But check this out --

CARLSON: I’m an American and I have -- don’t pull that crap on me.

MITCHELL: It’s not no crap. But, look at, Tucker --

CARLSON: I’m telling you I understand that some things are upsetting.

MITCHELL: You can understand that but I live it though.
 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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