Sometimes I wonder if Fox News’s Tucker Carlson is our own dear Peter Hitchens in disguise.
The same unwavering devotion to Putin, barely camouflaged with spurious denials. The same hatred of the Ukraine for daring to resist their idol. The same mendacity in supporting their animus. The same commitment to reciting Kremlin propaganda word for word. And, perhaps most damaging, the same false-flag appeal to ‘conservative values’.
Carlson condenses all that wickedness into personal attacks on President Zelensky, the most heroic wartime leader since the Second World War.
The day before flying to America to meet President Biden and address Congress, Zelensky had visited the front yet again, that time at Bakhmut, currently the site of the fiercest fighting. He had form.
When Russia’s bandit raid started, most observers – including those of Nato and the Ukraine herself – were sure the country would be overrun, and Kiev captured, within days. Spearheading the offensive, Putin sent out hit squads to murder Zelensky.
Though they were neutralised, Zelensky knew, and said publicly, that his days were numbered. “This is probably the last time you’ll see me alive,” he told the journalists.
Nevertheless, when Nato leaders offered to fly him to safety, Zelensky refused. “I need ammunition, not a taxi,” he said. Thank God he survived, as did his country.
Since then Zelensky has led the Ukraine’s desperate fight with unmatched bravery and wisdom. In fact, a credible claim can be made that, morally at least, it’s he and not whoever happens to be the US president who is the true leader of the free world.
I don’t know where this former comedian has found the reservoirs of courage so demonstrably missing in his Western counterparts. But he has definitely earned the respect and admiration of all decent and sensible people.
That category demonstrably doesn’t include such faux conservatives as Carlson. If he were just a crazed idiot, one would be well-advised simply to ignore his lying, ignorant harangues. But he isn’t.
He is an exponent of an ideology that assorted Lefties call conservatism, but which is in fact a craving for right-wing totalitarianism as a replacement for the ascendant left-wing kind. That makes fascisoid leaders like Putin and Brazil’s Bolsonaro their allies both intellectually and viscerally (Carlson admires both).
Hence Zelensky is Carlson’s bête noire – or rather, in this case, verte. For the hack chose to attack Zelensky from the sartorial angle, for wearing his trademark olive green sweatshirt throughout his visit.
Zelensky “dressed like the manager of a strip club”, said Carlson, showing intimate familiarity with such facilities. How dare that Putin-hater show such disrespect for America’s august institutions.
In fact, the Ukrainian president simply kept in mind Polonius’s advice that “apparel oft proclaims the man” – and his mission. Zelensky has vowed never to shed his paramilitary clobber till the end of the war, to remind the world that Ukrainians die in their thousands manning the ramparts of civilisation.
Had that been just an offhand remark, it would have been simply tasteless, not frankly sinister. But it’s just one of many.
For Carlson continued his attack by making a lying, and slyly anti-Semitic, statement that Zelensky is waging an “ongoing war on Christianity”. He didn’t directly attribute that fiendish scheme to Zelensky’s Jewishness, but the subtext was unmistakable. In fact, judging by their gloating comments, some of his viewers got it loud and clear.
This lie is spread by Putin’s agents. The basis for it is the Ukraine’s minor restrictions on the subversive shenanigans of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the aegis of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Since that institution is effectively a department of the secret service, its activities in the Ukraine go well beyond ministering to the spiritual needs of its flock. In fact, the Ukrainian government would be justified to ban it altogether.
But it has done nothing of the sort, this though less than 10 per cent of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians have anything to do with the Moscow Patriarchate. For, unlike Russia, the Ukraine has always been, and emphatically remains, religiously pluralistic.
Two other Orthodox churches are active in the Ukraine, with the autocephalous church under the Constantinople patriarch by far the most populous. Also important is the Greco-Catholic church, mainly in the west of the country, along with various Protestant creeds.
Zelensky’s “ongoing war on Christianity” is an FSB disinformation canard that Carlson and his ilk avidly gobble up and regurgitate. But that sort of thing has never stopped any ideologised demagogues, Left or Right.
I don’t know how intimate Carlson’s links with the Kremlin are, but he definitely uses the Ukraine as a cudgel to beat Biden with. Now, the idea of spanking Biden is appealing. But doing so with moronic logic is off-putting – yet this is what Carlson has done for months.
Tucker’s syllogism would put his IQ into the middle two-digit range: Tucker hates Joe; Vlad hates Joe; ergo, Tucker loves Vlad.
This is how he once put it: “Putin’s never called me racist. Threatened to have me sacked. Never manufactured a lockdown-inducing pandemic. Never taught my children critical race theory or made fentanyl or attacked Christianity. So why does the Washington, D.C. establishment hate him so much?”
Could it be because he is threatening to turn the USA into a strait separating Canada from Mexico? Pouncing on Russia’s neighbours like a rabid dog? Endangering America’s Nato allies? Waging genocidal war and threatening a nuclear holocaust to anyone daring to interfere? Vowing to rebuild history’s most evil empire?
Oh sorry, Putin is doing none of those things, says that jammy Tucker. He is merely trying to settle a “border dispute” with “a nation called Ukraine” led by a “shadow president”.
“Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia?” Carlson once said. “I’m serious. Why do I care? Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which I am.”
The rooting isn’t muted by any aversion to lying. Thus: “America and the UK demand total war with Russia, regime change war with Russia and of course, the Ukrainians caught in the middle had no choice but to concede.”
America and the UK are falling over themselves trying to avoid total war with Russia and a regime change there. That’s why they’ve refused to introduce a no-fly zone to protect Ukrainian civilians from genocidal attacks. That’s why they have so far refrained from arming the Ukraine with weapons that would enable her to win the war, not just to stay in it.
That’s not how Carlson sees it. Instead he dutifully parrots Putin’s speeches, saying, for example: “They [Nato countries] just do not need a big and independent country like Russia around.” The Ukraine’s government is a “puppet” of the West, “managed by the State Department.” I’m disappointed. I thought it was the CIA.
Recently Carlson treated his audience to a geopolitical insight so staggeringly cretinous that one wouldn’t expect even him to say something like that: “We don’t arm Ukraine so we can help the Ukrainians. They are merely unfortunate pawns in all of this. We arm Ukraine so that we can punish Russia. Why? For stealing Hillary Clinton’s coronation.”
Excuse me? Hasn’t Tucker’s idol Trump always denied that the Kremlin was instrumental in his election (otherwise known as “stealing Hillary Clinton’s coronation”)? And isn’t Tucker duty-bound to support Donald every step of the way? The chap is too dumb to realise that his statement indirectly confirms Trump’s complicity with Putin, real or not.
No falsehood is too big or too small for Carlson. Thus he has repeated Russian lies that the USA runs bioweapons laboratories in the Ukraine. And of course, as far as he is concerned, imposing sanctions on Putin’s gangsters constitutes illegal seizure of property.
One can only regret that the likes of Carlson have let the increasingly awful Democratic Party claim as their own the noble cause of helping the Ukraine thwart Russia’s attack on civilisation. And that “conservative values” are touted by those who don’t even know what conservatism means.
And now, by all means, let’s discuss Zelensky’s dress sense.