Editorial: Why Won’t Tucker Carlson Pronounce Kamala Harris’ Name Correctly?

When Fox News host Tucker Carlson repeatedly and flippantly mispronounced vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ name on his primetime show this week, he was using a subtle tool from the racist/sexist toolbox. Anyone can get a name wrong, but when national news personality Carlson intentionally dismissed the correct pronunciation with a sneer, it was more than a slip; it was a passive aggressive statement that Kamala Harris was of little consequence.

As Carlson launched into a disparagement of Harris, who is running for the second highest office in the land, he pronounced her name “KAM-a-la” several times.

“Just tell KAM a luh Harris what to say, and she will say it. That is the whole point of KAM a luh Harris,” said Carlson.

Carlson’s guest, Richard Goodstein, a Democratic strategist and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, tried to courteously correct Carlson’s pronunciation. “Tucker, can I just say one thing?” said Goodstein.

“Of course,” said Carlson,

““Because this will serve you and your fellow hosts on Fox. Her name is pronounced ‘comma’ — like the punctuation mark — ‘la.’ Comma-la,” Goodstein said. “Seriously, I’ve heard every sort of bastardization of that. That’s how it is. ‘Comma-la.’”

“OK,” said Carlson. “So what?”

“I think out of respect for somebody who’s going to be on the national ticket,” Goldstein responded. “Pronouncing her name right is actually kind of a bare minimum.”

“So I’m disrespecting her by mispronouncing her name unintentionally?” Carlson feigned indignance. “So it begins.” He proceeded to mispronounce Harris’ name twice more. “You’re not allowed to criticize ‘Ka-MAL-a’ or ‘KAM-a-la’ or whatever it is—”

“No, no, no. It’s not ‘whatever,’” Goodstein responded.

Kamala Harris has a name that’s not as easy to pronounce the first time as it would be if it were, say, “Ann Harris.” But it’s also not that difficult to pronounce. Most importantly, though, it’s her name, and she deserves at least an effort to pronounce it correctly.

“There’s nothing ‘or whatever’ about this moment,” said Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, in response to Tucker Carlson’s “KAM-a -la or whatever.” “It is about you having to finally face what you have done to this country. To black people. To black women.”

“It’s like saying sit down, shut up, we don’t want to hear from you, you don’t actually matter,” said CNN political commentator Karen Finney.

In the 60s sitcom, Bewitched, Endora, the famous mother-in-law, used the deliberate mispronunciation of her son-in-law Darren’s name to keep him in his place. Endora intentionally mangled Darren’s name each time she talked to him or about him. Derwin, Dobbin, Dustbin, Derwood… That was comedy, but we understood what Endora was doing.

Underneath subtle-seeming acts like this is a world of aggression, hostility, and resentment, and the desire to downplay or dismiss a person’s worthiness to be acknowledged and respected. One could call it bullying.

These subtle aggressions are frequently encased in a set-up situation where the aggressor knowingly does or says something offensive, then responds indignantly as if the other party had wronged them by calling them out on it. The aggressor then turns it all around, as Tucker Carlson does, sneering at the other party’s “oversensitivity” or “political correctness,” and assuming the role of the unfairly treated victim.

People like Tucker Carlson — white, male, far-right-leaning, often evangelical fundamentalist— feel threatened by people like Kamala Harris. They fear they’re losing their perceived place in the world to women, to people of color, and to other groups they have traditionally marginalized. Accustomed to wielding the power, they are especially threatened when someone in one of these groups rises to a position of power over them.

Kamala Harris is not new to racism or sexism, or to having her name dismissively or intentionally mispronounced. She will certainly experience more of these things while running as Joe Biden’s candidate for Vice President. But as more people witness Tucker Carlson and those like him calling themselves out to be petty, passive aggressors, and as fewer people remain silent about their behavior, there will be fewer ways for them, small though they are, to hide.

Fox News Host Erupts Over Being Corrected on Saying Kamala Harris’ Name Properly | Veuer [2020-08-12]

Fox News Freaks Out Over Kamala Harris | HuffPost [2020-08-12]

From NATO Antics to a Pelosi Rebuff: Highlights of This Week

As of this post, only 332 days remain until the 2020 Election. Almost certainly, the days and weeks leading up to it will be filled with eyebrow-raisers that far overshadow the fundraisers. Here are just a few of the events that happened this week.

On Monday, in retaliation against France’s new digital services tax, the Trump Administration announced a proposal to levy tariffs on up to $2.4 billion worth of French imports. The French tax is aimed at preventing tech giants from avoiding taxes when they place their headquarters in low-tax countries in Europe. It would impact companies whose yearly global sales exceed 750 million Euros ($830 million) and French earnings over 25 million Euros. Such American companies as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, would be affected, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative called it “discrimination” against American companies.

Trump also attended the NATO summit this week, and what stands out most, at least for Tuesday, is not the official discussions or negotiations, but an informal chat. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was caught on video mocking Trump in an exchange with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Later, during a press conference, Trudeau didn’t comment directly on whether he had mocked Trump, but tried to explain that he had been making a reference to the fact that “there was an unscheduled press conference (for Trump)” before his meeting with Trump.

Trump responded to Trudeau’s remarks about him with, “Well, he’s two faced.”

Also on Tuesday, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris announced that she was ending her campaign for the 2020 election.

“I’m not a billionaire,” Harris said, explaining her decision to withdraw. “I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it has become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete. In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.”

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held an 8 1/2-hour public hearing featuring three legal scholars and one Constitutional expert, each of whom provided testimony as to whether Trump committed bribery and other impeachable offenses by allegedly conditioning military aid to Ukraine, as well as a White House visit, on a public announcement by Ukraine’s new President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, of investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

The three legal scholars, Stanford University professor Pamela S. Karlan, Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, and University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt, all chosen by Democrats, testified that, yes, Trump had committed impeachable offenses, and that he had obstructed Congress.

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University professor called by the GOP (though he noted that he had not voted for Trump), disagreed, saying that if impeachment were to take place in this case, it “would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.”

Gerhard, however, testified, “If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.”

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House committee chairs will begin drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump.

“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when he says and acts upon the belief, Article II says I can do whatever I want. No, his wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution, a separation of powers, three co-equal branches, each a check and balance on the other,” said Pelosi.

Many believe that impeachment is almost certain, though a vote to remove Trump from office is unlikely in the Republican-led Senate.

Republicans hold that Democrats want to impeach Trump simply because they “hate” him. When asked by a journalist if she hated Trump, Nancy Pelosi responded, “As a Catholic I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me … So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

Trump calls Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced” after NATO hot mic gaffe | CBS News [2019-12-04]

Rep. Biggs pushes back on Pelosi’s impeachment announcement |
Fox News [2019-12-05]