“We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men.”
CNN host Don Lemon cautioned viewers against demonizing people based on ethnicity seconds before stating that white men are “the biggest terror threat to this country.”
CNN’s Don Lemon: We have to “realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.” pic.twitter.com/CqefzgIntd
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 30, 2018
“I keep trying to point out to people not to demonize any one group or one ethnicity,” Lemon told fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo in a segment at the end of the latter’s primetime show.
Lemon was criticizing the rhetoric deployed by President Donald Trump — and embraced by a number of Republican lawmakers and media outlets — depicting the march of migrants from Honduras towards the United States as an ”invasion.”
“We keep thinking that the biggest terror threat is something else — some people who are marching towards the border, like it’s imminent,” Lemon said. “The last time they did this, a couple hundred people came. … Most of them got tuckered out before they even made it to the border.”
But in the wake of a series of hate crimes perpetrated by white men — including the Saturday massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Monday slaying of two black men in a Kentucky restaurant — Lemon seemed to suggest that the demonizing rhetoric may not be categorically wrong after all, but rather that it had been so far misdirected.
“We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men,” Lemon said. “Most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.”
Lemon also veered to reference the president’s executive order banning immigration from mostly Muslim-majority countries, which had been widely criticized as a xenophobic “Muslim ban,” but was nonetheless upheld by the Supreme Court after numerous legal challenges and revisions.
“There is no travel ban on [white men],” said Lemon. “They had the Muslim ban. There is no white guy ban. So what do we do about that?”
Lemon’s point, which may sound vitriolic, conveys a frustration with what he views as a double standard in the treatment of security risks. While destitute and mostly-unarmed migrants trying to cross the border are met with 5,000 troops at border, hate crimes committed by Americans receive from the administration only tepid renunciations (often containing a grain of victim-blaming), if at all.
That said, Lemon’s attempt to turn the tables on hateful rhetoric might be a disservice to his own point. On the right, Lemon is generally viewed as a partisan grandstander, and comments like these aren’t likely to inspire any introspection among his critics.