Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tucker Carlson Is Emblematic of Trinity Culture

Alex Dahlem ’20

Opinion Editor

Tucker Carlson ’91 is one of the most controversial yet noteworthy voices in modern American politics. Sporting colorful bow ties, a gregarious laugh (often used to scoff at his liberal guests), and classic gen-x conservative political leanings, it seems like Carlson was meant for this moment – the perfect caricature of the whiny, trust-fund, conservative snowflake.

To the average American, Carlson’s recent racist and misogynistic tirade is probably no surprise. In recently surfaced recordings from a conservative radio show called Bubba the Love Sponge, Carlson refers to Muslims as “animals,” Iraqi’s as “semi-literate primitive monkeys,” and Michelle Obama as “too black.” Furthermore, he made jokes about sex workers, the standards for consensual sex, laughed when another caller said they “choked out a girl” because “she was acting up”, and called for the elimination of rape shield laws.

The most remarkable part of these statements is that they were made in public on multiple occasions between 2006 and 2011, suggesting that Carlson had not even considered the impropriety of his words. Even worse, Carlson has refused to apologize for his statements, saying that he is a casualty of the “great American outrage machine” and that he “will never bow to the mob.”

Carlson’s attempt to turn the situation around and criticize those who rightfully call him out is cowardly. He is suggesting that we are the crazy people when he is the one who compared an entire nation of people to monkeys. Somehow our denunciation of his reference to women as “extremely primitive, basic, and not that hard to understand” is suddenly mobbish and overblown.

Sadly, Carlson’s ability to glide away from these comments with minimal professional consequences is a sign of the terrifying times that we live in. His snapback at the “mob” was considered by many to be a justified response-almost making it seem as though he were the victim. How is it that age-old norms of decency and respect for all people-no matter their gender, race, or religion-are suddenly being undermined within our society? Although it will be difficult to eradicate every single instance of racism and misogyny, at least we used to have the decency to stand united against such statements. 

Now, for those familiar with Trinity, the question seems to be what can Tucker’s statements and hideous counter-attack tell us about our school? Is Tucker just one bad apple? Or is he symptomatic of a problem that Trinity and other exclusive colleges beget in their student bodies?

The answer is simple. For the most part, Trinity is a place where wealthy students come to party and totally avoid the social inequality that exists just beyond the downtrodden gates. Our school  is unique in that we are one of the only small and wealthy liberal arts colleges situated in a struggling, majority-minority, post-industrial city.

On the surface Trinity has been doing an exceptional job addressing our surrounding problems, touting our location as a way for students to access professional connections while also engaging with systemic problems that our country faces.

Unfortunately, many vocal and powerful students and faculty on our campus have a different philosophy-one that views Trinity as a bubble, stokes a culture that demeans residents of Frog Hollow, and fails to give equal attention to the racialized policies that have caused the neighborhood to struggle. Pejorative terms have slowly but surely turned into punchlines.

Furthermore, as was outlined in detail in The Longest Walk, a 2017 student thesis, Trinity’s administration directly avoids informing the student body about student-on-student sexual crimes, making many feel as the only threat to their well-being are buttocks-grabbing kids on bikes and people with paintball guns.

While many alumni on all ends of the political spectrum have gone on to do wonderful things, Tucker Carlson remains a stain. However, instead of looking at this as an isolated incident, Trinity must reassess the way its student body thinks about the struggles and the triumphs of the community around our school. Carlson did not just wake up a racist and sexist pig in 2006-he has been myopically socialized to view the world in that way, and his four years at Trinity only affirmed those views.

Although Trinity has numerous opportunities for interaction with the community, it can do more to ensure that students from all walks of life are participating. There must be structural changes to the curriculum that include required and comprehensive community service for every student. This will help uplift the community around Trinity while also informing every student about ingrained struggles within our country.

Additionally, our administration needs to be more forward and transparent when it comes to sexual assault on campus. We need to recognize who the true predators are and ensure future justice.

Trinity’s administration must stop floating in no man’s land-supporting Hartford’s revival on one hand while coddling the student body on the other. This college has a dark history of inaction on this subject and Tucker Carlson is a disappointing example of that. Change might be painful, but our college and our community will be thankful in the long run.    

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