The cadre of racist boomers and white supremacist podcasters who make up Tucker Carlson’s viewership got a real treat on Monday night. Carlson opened a segment by praising Hillary Clinton for her horrible comments on immigration, and followed that by bringing on a self-described leftist who agrees with Carlson that open borders are bad.
The “left” voice in question was Angela Nagle, an Irish academic and the author of Kill All Normies, a book about the rise of the “alt-right” which came out last year. Nagle, who has written for left-wing magazines such as Jacobin and The Baffler, has been a controversial figure on the left for quite some time, mostly because of her premise that the alt-right is a reaction to the insular bubble of the social justice internet (think Tumblr), despite the fact that the far-right has always had a foothold in America.
The reason for Nagle’s appearance on Carlson’s show was an essay published last week in American Affairs—a “journal” of right-wing populism which combines the politics of Breitbart with the insufferable high-mindedness of The Economist—titled, “The Left Case Against Open Borders.” Carlson dubbed it the “most interesting piece in the last six months” and called Nagle “smart and brave” for writing it. (This is a good takedown of the piece itself, if you’re looking for one.)
Nagle’s position is that open borders benefit corporations and harm workers, which is why the concept has been pushed by free-market think tanks. In the segment, Nagle called open borders “a disaster for working people on both sides” and blamed the concept on a “media class who change a position on something overnight and then the rest of the world wakes up and finds this moral taboo has been erected overnight.” (When Nagle said this, Carlson’s face lit up like a kid on Christmas.)
Nagle isn’t entirely wrong that free marketers have often pushed for open borders—or, at any rate, for the free movement of cheap labor. But attributing the left-wing open borders argument to the “media class” is entirely off-base. It’s not the position of any major editorial board that the border should be open. No left-wing politician in either America or Europe is calling for open borders. This is a proposal that’s coming from the grassroots of explicitly socialist and anti-racist groups, and its growing prevalence is a direct reaction to the openly racist politics of Donald Trump and the Republican Part and their far-right equivalents in Europe.
It’s a simple trajectory. The militarization of immigration enforcement has been exacerbated by the current administration, with cruelty and rank unfairness toward immigrants on full display through the Department of Homeland Security’s family separation policy, the willingness of ICE and local police departments they work with to ravage communities, the corruption of the Border Patrol, and so on. Trump’s demonization of immigrants is official government policy now, and his administration tests the limits of how much barbarism the American public is willing to see every single day. The left has responded to that with a total rejection of the immigration apparatus not only as it currently exists, but also how it’s existed in the past.
The juxtaposition during the segment itself couldn’t be clearer. While Nagle was debating an idea on the left that’s still fairly niche compared to the slightly more mainstream call to abolish ICE, rolling right next to her was footage from Tijuana on Sunday—the same incident in which actual babies were tear gassed.
There is nothing to be gained for people on the left by engaging someone like Tucker Carlson on immigration. This is a guy who, despite his insistence that he was totally with Nagle on blaming corporations for this supposed crisis rather than the migrants themselves, has repeatedly portrayed immigrants and the ruling class as partners in a coalition to kill off White America. His motives could not be any clearer, and lending credence to his views from the “left” is not just naive, it’s actively contributing to the plight of the most vulnerable people in North America right now.
If you’re going to make appearances on Tucker Carlson’s show in order to seek common ground with the White Genocide Believer, more power to you. Just don’t be under any illusion that you’re a part of the left or speak for anyone on the left while doing so.