It is rare that our oldest frenemies can truly surprise us, but on Monday night Fox News did just that, when Tucker Carlson devoted a six-minute segment to “gypsies”—his word—allegedly taking over a Pennsylvania town and pooping in the street. You have to hand it to Fox for finding untapped sources of xenophobia and injecting them straight into their eyeballs!
Here’s what is true: the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that 40 asylum-seeking people from Romania arrived in the small town of California, Pennsylvania. There are complaints from locals about street-pooping (mainly by children) and chicken killing, which local police said they mostly could not confirm:
Some complained of public defecation by the children and said they had seen the newcomers killing chickens and committing traffic violations. Borough police said they could not confirm most of the alleged nuisance crimes.
In borough shops Friday, people were still bringing up the issue, with one man saying, “Where’s Charles Bronson when you need him?” a reference to the movie vigilante.
A local TV station, WTAE, also has residents complaining about “repulsive” behavior by the new arrivals, which is certainly not a standard racist trope used against new Americans for over 100 years. A petition signed by nearly 1,200 people incorrectly calls the asylum-seekers “illegal immigrants,” and calls them “a public nuisance” and dangerous to local welfare.
Glenn Beck’s padded room The Blaze picked up on those allegations, as did Fox News, both of which suggested the people who just got here and don’t know any of the local customs have failed to assimilate.
And now Carlson has jumped aboard this train straight to an FCC complaint: on Monday, he invited a Roma filmmaker named George Eli on his program and demanded to know why his people can’t use toilets:
Eli gently suggested that both the townspeople and the new arrivals “are suffering from a little bit of culture shock.” But Carlson had poop on his mind, and could not be swayed.
“I have heard a lot of people mention, I hate to say it, public defecation,” Carlson told Eli. “There are a lot of news stories about this going back a long time in the UK and here.” He mentioned pooping on “playgrounds and sidewalks and front steps… That seems to me to be a hostile act.”
Eli chuckled but kept it together, telling Tucker that while he didn’t know exactly what was going on in Pennsylvania, “I’ve been Roma all my life and my family’s been Roma all my life and we use bathrooms… I can’t respond to something I’ve never seen as a Roma person.”
Tucker could not be swayed. He wanted to talk about the poop. “What’s that about?” he inquired. “It’s not something you need to do. So you have to assume it’s a statement.”
Eli did his best here, pointing out that some Roma people are from rural areas without great sanitation, while also clearly thinking to himself, “Why does this guy want to talk about poop so bad?” He also suggested that Americans are welcoming and kind and would ultimately welcome their new neighbors, before asking Carlson not to use “stereotypes that are unfair.”
Eli is also the founder of the Romani Media Initiative, which seeks to portray positive representations of Roma people, which is probably why he responded to this outrage bullshit with patience and good humor.