Here are a couple of quick observations on last night's debate.
1) Carlson is a liberal about race. Dennis Prager provides a good explanation of the difference between being a liberal and being a leftist about race:
Race: This is perhaps the most obvious of the many moral differences between liberalism and leftism. The essence of the liberal position on race was that the color of one’s skin is insignificant. To liberals of a generation ago, only racists believed that race is intrinsically significant. However, to the left, the notion that race is insignificant is itself racist. Thus, the University of California officially regards the statement “There is only one race, the human race” as racist. For that reason, liberals were passionately committed to racial integration. Liberals should be sickened by the existence of black dormitories and separate black graduations on university campuses.
Carlson on his show regularly speaks of race in terms of skin color as Prager does above. Now if race is skin color, then race is reasonably regarded as insignificant given that one's color is a relatively superficial feature of a person. It would then be 'racist' in some pejorative sense of this term to judge people negatively on the the basis of their race, i.e., skin color. If you hate me just because of my skin color, what kind of miserable bigot are you?
That, in a nutshell, is the old liberal position on race. It is one shared by many present-day conservatives, many of whom invoke Martin Luther King, Jr.'s admonition that people should be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." That famous admonition, as stirring as it is, clearly conflates race with skin color and is therefore superficial, literally.
Interestingly, its superficiality has been recognized on both the Right and the Left. While color of skin is a phenotypical manifestation of race, race is not the same as skin color. One proof of this is that a person can change his skin color but no person can change his racial ancestry. If you were born of two black parents, then you are black, and nothing you now do or have done to your body can change that fact. Not even Michael Jackson, "the one-man melting pot" as a certain talk jock called him, could pull it off. Jackson, you will recall, took steps to lighten his skin.
It is also clear that attitudes towards blacks are based on their behavior not their color. Most white liberals would not think of buying a house in a predominantly black area. Is that because of skin color or typical behavior patterns? The question answers itself.
It cuts the other way as well. Why do many blacks hate whites? Because they are white or light in color? No, because they 'act white.' It's about behavior not skin color.
Note that while it would be irrational to avoid a person or group of persons because of his or their color, it would not be irrational to avoid a person or group of persons because of his or their behavior.
In sum, to speak of race in terms of something as superficial as skin color is to assume that race is of no significance. But this is a question that ought not be begged.
Why do leftists hold that it is 'racist' to think that race is insignificant or to hold that there is only one race, the human race? This is a very interesting question. Let's leave it for later.
2) Holding as he does that race is a superficial matter of skin color allows Carlson to conclude that we are all the same deep down and that the "definition of 'racism'" is to think that one can infer something about a person's motives solely on the basis of their race/skin color. And so Tucker goes on to accuse Yankow of being a racist. (2:55)
The underlying difference which neither of the discussants manage to bring into the open is that Tucker is a liberal who thinks that race is superficial and insignificant whereas Yankow appears to be a left-wing race realist.