Michael Vick, Tucker Carlson and Dogwhistling

Of all the people who have weighed in on Tucker Carlson’s purposefully incendiary comments about Michael Vick, Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Perry has had perhaps the most interesting take on the controversy:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Harris-Perry elaborated a bit more today on the connection between Carlson’s rhetoric and the politics of race and animal rights in the U.S.:

… many African Americans feel that the suffering of animals evokes more empathy and concern among whites than does the suffering of black people.  For example, in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina dozens of people sent me a link to an image of pets being evacuated on an air conditioned bus [3]. This image was a sickening juxtaposition to the conditions faced by tens of thousands of black residents trapped by the storm and it provoked great anger and pain for those who sent it to me. I sensed that same outrage in the responses of many black people who heard Tucker Carlson call for Vick’s execution as punishment for his crimes.  It was a contrast made more raw by the recent decision to give relatively light sentences to the men responsible for the death of Oscar Grant.

Further, I would invite you to check out the video showing Carlson’s comments about Vick. In that clip, the words aren’t so much as telling as the reaction – or lack thereof from Carlson and his guests on the panel. No raised eyebrows, no audible gasps, not even a pause from Carlson himself, which might have indicated that he was simply engaging in hyperbole.

So it’s easy to understand why some people, particularly Vick fans, might think certain folks might value the life of a dog over that of a human, eh? Or a certain kind of human, at least.

Maybe Carlson was being a provocateur. Or maybe he was being honest. Either way, it doesn’t speak all that well of him or his value system. Even for a Christian such as himself.

But beyond that, all of this has got me thinking of something: given what we know about U.S. history, is it possible that more people been executed – through legal or extra-legal means – for killing/abusing/stealing animals than for killing black people?

I would imagine it’s the former. And probably not even close.


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • Naima

    I love how Harris-Perry’s mind works…you just instantly get it even though you may not have understood two seemingly stand alone concepts are interconnected.

    At risk of sounding absurd this may explain why I can’t stand most hypocritical vegetarians/vegans who look at me like I’m less than because I like chicken. When I used to work in retail countless people who ask “Oh is this real leather? I don’t wear or eat animal! Wouldn’t dare” I’d roll my eyes and say “It’s your lucky day, it’s made from recycled materials, shoelaces are hemp and the children who made them only made 1/18th of what the shoe is actually being sold to you for and couldn’t possibly feed her family on that.”