Backlash after ‘supremely uninformed, racist’ Tucker Carlson suggests India peaked under British rule

·4-min read

Fox News’ right-wing anchor Tucker Carlson has been condemned as “racist” and “supremely uninformed” after extolling the virtues of British colonialism in India and claiming the country prospered during imperialist rule.

The conservative political commentator, known for pro-Trump rants that dominate the network’s primetime lineup, praised Queen Elizabeth II and said the British empire was “more than just genocide”.

He said British colonisers in India left behind a “civilisation” and that independent India had failed at building anything as beautiful since.

“Today India is far more powerful than the UK, the nation that once ruled it,” he pointed out.

But then he questioned: “And after 75 years of independence, has that country produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station that the British colonials built?”

Carlson was referring to Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus station that was renamed in 2016 as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

“No, sadly it has not. Not one,” he said in reply to his own question.

The long rant on last Thursday’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show came after the host slammed “ghoulish” critics of the Queen, who died earlier that day on 8 September at the age of 96.

He also used it as an opportunity to ridicule the Joe Biden government for leaving “a mess behind” in Afghanistan as the country withdrew troops ending two decades of war, while drawing parallels with the British colonial era.

In more offensive remarks, he credited the British for abolishing the old and regressive Hindu custom of Sati Pratha (sati custom), commonly referred to as just Sati, which is the practice of widows immolating themselves by sitting on the burning pyre of their dead husbands.

The eradication of Sati from the country was carried out by social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

“When the US government withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years, we left behind airstrips, shipping containers and guns,” he said.

“When the British pulled out of India, they left behind an entire civilization, a language, a legal system, schools, churches and public buildings, all of which are still in use today,” he claimed.

Many experts have pointed out that British infrastructure in India was merely a way for the East Indian Company and British officials to more efficiently transfer indigenous wealth to their home nation.

“The British empire was more than just genocide. In fact, the British did not commit genocide, except, arguably, against the Dutch during the Boer War,” he falsely claimed.

“The British did leave the world the Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus and free speech. They helped end the Transatlantic slave trade as well as the ritual murder of widows in India.”

Carlson left out the tragedies of the Bengal famine, which Indians hold Winston Churchill to be directly responsible for, and the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, in which men, women and children were mercilessly shot dead after orders from the British army.

Britain has not yet tendered a formal apology for the massacre which led to the slaughter of hundreds of innocent and unarmed Indian Sikhs and instead skirted around the issue.

These tragedies were among those cited on social media by Indians who tore into Carlson, reminding him of the well-documented execesses of empire.

“Supremely uninformed, racist and offensive commentary on colonialism in general and British Colonialism in particular,” said political commentator Sunanda Vashisht.

“@TuckerCarlson - you need a crash course on what British colonization did to India. We funded the so called thugs of empire with our wealth and blood.”

Indian television anchor Sanket Upadhyay called Carlson an “apologist of the empire”.

“The ‘benign’ Brits left India’s economy in a shambles, left us with border disputes we are fighting to this day. And killed millions,” he said.

Another Twitter user, journalist Ben Norton, slammed “white-supremacist Tucker Carlson”, by pointing out the UK had plundered “$45 trillion in wealth and left India LESS developed than before”.

Shashi Tharoor, a former diplomat and current senior MP with the Congress party, expressed his anguish at Carlson’s remarks, writing on Twitter that he “could not respond without losing my cool”.

Others shared pictures of famous architectural marvels in India, like the Great Stupa at Sanchi and the temples of Khajuraho, built before Britain invaded and colonised India.