On Thursday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, after the top military officer linked the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol to “white rage” and called the teaching of the racially charged critical race theory an important topic to continue in the military.
“Mark Milley is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn’t get that job because he’s brilliant, or because he’s brave, or because the people who know him respect him,” Carlson said. “He is not, and they definitely don’t. Milley got the job because he is obsequious. He knows who to suck up to, and he’s more than happy to do it. Feed him a script and he will read it.”
On Wednesday, Milley had defended the teaching of critical race theory throughout the military and in particular at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“The United States Military Academy is a university,” Milley said on Wednesday. “And it is important that we train, and we understand ― and I want to understand ‘white rage.’ And I’m white, and I want to understand it. So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building, and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.”
In the setup to his direct criticism of Milley, Carlson began his segment by comparing the term “white rage” to the proposed medical term “drapetomania,” which was used to describe a tendency to wander. Drapetomania was proposed throughout the U.S. slave-era south as a way to explain why enslaved people kept running away from plantations and characterized fugitive slaves as suffering from a medical condition inherent to their race, for not wanting to remain under the conditions of their enslavement. Carlson called the concept of drapetomania “obviously insane” and part of a practice of trying to form a scientific basis to justify racist ideas, which he called “scientific racism.”
“Scientific racism never actually went away. It’s still with us,” Carlson continued. “No one talks about drapetomania anymore. Instead, our medical professionals and law professors and military leaders and politicians and cable news hosts have identified a new disorder they claim explains everything bad. It’s called Whiteness.”
Addressing Milley’s references to “white rage,” Carlson said, “Hard to believe that man wears a uniform, and notice he never defined ‘white rage’ and we should know what it is. What is ‘white rage?’ Well like ‘drapetomania’ it’s one of those diseases that only affects people with certain melanin levels. It is a race-specific illness. That’s what Mark Milley has learned from reading about it.”
Carlson further criticized Milley’s Wednesday comments that he had read the works of Mao Zedong, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin and noted “that doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend.”
Responding to Milley’s comments about reading communist works to understand communism, Carlson said, “He’s not just a pig. He’s stupid.”
Carlson went on to ask rhetorically whether Milley had “read anything recently about winning wars,” answering “apparently not.”
The Fox host’s comments trended on Twitter Friday, with social media users weighing in on the segment. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, took to Twitter to suggest Carlson hated America, tweeting, “Dear @TuckerCarlson: Why do you hate America so much? General Mark Milley lead soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, including combat duties. He’s served in the 82nd Airborne & 5th Special Forces Group. I see that you once applied to be in the CIA. But the agency rejected you.”
Conservative commentator Kurt Schlichter, a lawyer and retired U.S. Army colonel, also weighed in on Twitter.
“Just remember that @TuckerCarlson has won as many wars in the last 20 years as GEN Milley, but has lost fewer. Carry on,” Schlichter tweeted.
Carlson’s Thursday comments are not the first time he has questioned U.S. military leadership. In March, Carlson questioned the military’s priorities around social issues and said Biden’s main priority as president is identity politics, which he said is fine in some instances, but “is not fine if your only job is to protect the United States from people who want to kill the rest of us.” Carlson’s remarks prompted criticism from several military leaders.