T-Mobile and ABC, owned by Disney Company, will stop advertising on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show in view of his scandalous comments on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Or so I’ve just learned. On Saturday, the news host referred to the protests as “Black Lives Matter riot.” Carlson also asked why he was “required to be upset” about George Floyd's death, as he isn’t from Minneapolis. The comment came on June 1 after Nikki Haley, former UN ambassador, called for collective grieving.
Although such a move should not surprise us in an age of rigorously enforced political correctness, there are two aspects of this situation that warrant attention. First, for those of us who may wonder why the TV channel that is supposed to be conservative so rarely is, funding may be part of the answer. A failure to grieve sufficiently in public over George Floyd's slaying and the lack of the required respect for Haley, our liberal Republican (dare I say, neoconservative) former Ambassador to the UN, may deprive this Fox News celebrity of sponsorship for his program. No patron by contrast is likely to abandon Fox after listening to a host, like Chris Wallace, or a guest, like former National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, deplore white racism and lambast Donald Trump.
Tucker is different. He has turned off leftist sponsors despite arduous efforts at neutralizing opposition. This man of the populist right reminds listeners almost ritualistically that he believes in Martin Luther King’s vision of a colorblind society (assuming that King consistently believed that), and he fills his program with black and gay guests, some of whom he goes out of his way to flatter. Tucker also cautiously avoids bringing on his show any guest who could be linked however distantly to the Old Right. The exception was immigration hawk and conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, whom he no longer has on his program. But apparently these precautions were not enough. It was inevitable that Tucker would eventually say something in his daring monologues that would offend Fox’s leftist benefactors. And he has taken enough chances to have made that fateful indiscretion inevitable.
Second, like many other corporations and foundations that began under conservative auspices, Disney has moved in a direction that would have appalled its iconic founder. Just last week Disney gave 5 million dollars to far left groups to advance “social justice.” This outburst of politically correct madness would have driven the company's founder up the wall. Walt Disney was a longtime conservative Republican (after having voted for FDR in 1936) and a willing supporter of Joseph McCarthy’s investigation of Communist subversion. He would not have been happy with those who have taken over his entertainment industry.
Disney produced the first movie I ever saw, Song of the South, in 1946. The music, especially Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, imprinted itself on my memory, and for days after viewing the movie I went around humming its most famous melody. The movie’s star was black actor, James Baskett, who played the legendary Uncle Remus, a onetime slave who remained on what had been a plantation, as a handyman and friend to the young. That may have been my first exposure to black people, and though Rotten Tomatoes insists that I should have been offended by the “racial stereotyping” in the film and though it later drew furious protests from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, I was drawn irresistibly to the grandfatherly Uncle Remus.
I’m still trying to figure out why Song of the South, which has been removed even as a DVD, should be more offensive to politically correct gatekeepers than say, all those movies that show blacks cursing at each other and engaging in violent acts. Perhaps I’ll have to spend time in a re-education camp to understand this.
Years after seeing the movie, I read the Uncle Remus tales, the work of the Southern humorist and journalist Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908). Harris collected his stories from conversations with Southern blacks, many former slaves, and he did this to preserve the culture of those he interviewed, while pursuing what he thought were closer relations between the races. Apparently, Harris didn’t understand that by the standards of those who applaud movies in which blacks are shown as behaving brutally he was being racially insensitive. Although watching and hearing the black Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction curse and shoot his way through a three-hour film is politically correct, observing the almost Christlike Uncle Remus instructing the young is racism gone amok.
But let me not carp too much. The Disney production of Beauty and the Beast in 2017 has been widely praised in the press for its “diversity.” The producers went out of their way to fill roles with homosexuals. Although some reviewers complained that the movie had still not overcome “gender roles,” it may be unfair to demand any more at this point from the woke Disney board.
[Image by freshwater2006 / CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia]
Paul Gottfried is editor in chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years, a Guggenheim recipient, and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.