Megan Neely and Tom Brokaw—Members of the “Trumpest Generation” January 31, 2019
As we all know, Demagogue Donald from the “get-go” ran on a bigoted xenophobic platform and made no bones about it. He proudly argued that he would not be “politically correct” and encouraged his fanatic followers to think and act likewise. Translation: If you hate people with a different skin color, abhor those who speak languages other than English, detest immigrants, loathe various ethnicities and religions, and dislike the sexual orientation of some groups, feel free to broadcast your bigotry far and wide. The “fake news and fake establishment” were suppressing these “legitimate” beliefs. If you want to use racist epithets, what’s the big deal? We all know how this played out. The white supremacist/neo-Nazi/KKK crowd got the message. They came out “big time” from under their rocks to support racist rattlesnake Donald in Campaign 2016. Right after Trump’s election, hate crimes against blacks, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ groups, as well as anti-immigrant fervor hit new highs. Donald could care less and stocked his administration with chief bigots Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. Homeland Security Head, Kirstjen Nielsen, a fan of ripping immigrant parents from their children and putting them in overcrowded detention camps where several have died, is also a part of Donald’s government. Donald, of course, has plenty of GOP racist/anti-immigrant loyalist lawmakers. IA’s 4th District, Congressman Steve King was a member of the Trump Club “before it was cool.” He had even employed Donald’s anti-immigrant memes over a decade before Trump ran. We also have Ohio 8th District Congressman, “Buy a Brick Build a Wall,” Warren Davidson, as well as Mo 8th District Congressman Jason Smith. Smith is auditioning to take the recently rebuked Steve King’s place. Smith, remember, told Mexican-American CA Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas (29th CD) to “Go back to Puerto Rico.”
The old nursery rhyme “sticks and stones will break may bones, but names will never hurt me” has, once again, been totally refuted. Hateful words, encouraged by our leaders at the very top, lead to deadly deeds. We all saw this on display in the white-supremacist “unite the right” 8/2017 Charlottesville, VA riot. The neo-Nazi/alt-right/ KKKers waved tiki torches and shouted anti-Jewish slogans. In the end, three people, including two VA state law enforcement officers and counter-demonstrator Heather Heyer were killed. All Donald did was call the neo-Nazis and KKKers “very fine people.” The increased hatred Donald encouraged with his “who cares about political correctness” attitude, IMHO, led to the massacre of 11 Sabbath worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA in 10/2018 by a white supremacist. He wanted to kill as many Jews as he could because mere “words and optics”, read, white supremacist demonstrations, would “never be enough.”
Donald’s attacks on “political correctness” and tolerance of xenophobic bigotry have spread beyond the “usual” white supremacist and extreme right GOP congressional suspects. Professor Megan Neely, who headed Duke University’s Medical School Master of Biostatics program has stepped down from that position. Why? It turned out that in her recent 2019 emails, she warned Chinese students against communicating in their native language and urged them to “commit to using English 100% of the time in a professional setting.” Professor Neely stated that she had been approached by two faculty members who complained about international students speaking Chinese in student lounge and study areas. Neely wrote in bold underlined type, “They were disappointed that these students were not taking the opportunity to improve their English and were being so impolite as to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand.” Neely then wrote that these faculty members asked to see photographs of the students in the program so that they could “remember them if the students ever interviewed for an internship or asked to work with them for a master’s project.” In a 2018 email, Professor Neely made similar complaints to international students whom she attacked for speaking in their foreign tongue very loudly in the break rooms. She called it “plain rude” and again indicated that not speaking English all the time could make it “harder to get research opportunities while in the program (Kaur, Baldacci, Fang, & Xiong, cnn.com, 1/28/19).”
Wow! Professor Neely was basically suggesting blacklisting foreign students for having the “nerve” to speak in their own tongue with their friends, if they wanted to talk privately. There is no indication that these students didn’t speak English fluently in class. These awful comments by Professor Neely are eerily similar to what happened in the reactionary 1920’s. The then WASP majority resented Italian, Jewish, and Polish Americans, among others, for putting up businesses with descriptions of what they were selling written in their native languages. These “100% Americans” (NOT) falsely screamed that these immigrants would never “assimilate.” One often hears such ridiculous racist comments today against the prosperous Asian-American businesses in Monterey Park, CA that has revived that city. Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Puerto-Rican Americans who have the “nerve” to put up business signs in Spanish in heavily Hispanic locations have been similarly attacked.
The reaction from the Duke students was, rightfully, one of outrage. Over 2,000 Duke students have already signed a petition calling for an investigation of these incidents and the actions of the unnamed faculty sympathizers communicating with Professor Neely. Duke students called this behavior “hypocritical and discriminatory.” Duke is dependent on international students coming there and prides itself on its partnership with Chinese Kunshan University. Mary Klotman, Duke University’s Medical School Dean, apologized for Neely’s emails and rightly stated that there was “no restriction or limitation on the language you use to converse.” She added, “Your career opportunities and recommendations will not in any way be influenced by the language you use outside the classroom (cnn.com, Kaur et al, 1/28/19).” In mainland China, Neely’s emails have drawn outrage on Weibo, that country’s Twitter-like social platform. Professor Neely’s comments are hurting our ties to China. In 2017-2018, more than 363,000 Chinese students were enrolled in U.S. colleges and they constitute the largest foreign student body here. In 2016, Chinese students contributed $9.8 billion to our economy, according to a U.S. Commerce Dept. report (Kaur et al). This Trumpest behavior by Neely and her friends must continue to be condemned.
Professor Neely is not the only one infected with the Trump virus. Even more shocking are the comments made by Tom Brokaw on the 1/27/2019 “Meet the Press Program.” On that show, Brokaw (78), the former NBC Nightly News anchor and author of “The Greatest Generation,” a book dealing with Americans who came through the Great Depression and WWII, badly burned himself over the immigration issue. When discussing Trump’s border wall, Brokaw stated that he had heard from people, after pushing “a little harder” for their opinion, that they didn’t know whether they “want brown grandbabies.” He went on to speak of “the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.” He then expressed his personal feelings that “the Hispanics need to work harder at assimilating, speaking English and learning to be comfortable in other communities (nbcnews.com, 1/27/19).” Brokaw stated that his view on assimilation is “one he’s been sharing for a long time (McLean & Stetler, cnn.com, 1/27/19).” Unbelievable! Brokaw is arguing that the Trump reactionaries upset about “brown grandbabies” should be listened to on race relations. No way. Those bigots should not be catered to or given any respect whatsoever. Brokaw says the Trump crowd is upset with intermarriage. Well, Mr. Brokaw, intermarriage is the ultimate way that groups get assimilated, what you wrongly blame the Hispanics for not doing. Brokaw is ignorant of the facts. Over 65.6% of Latinos were born in the U.S. by 2015, according to a Pew Research study. This same Pew study found that like other immigrant groups, by the third generation, Latinos were 75% English dominant and just 24% bilingual. In CA, Hispanics are strongly against bi-lingual education and the schools there make sure that all children are immediately immersed in English (see nbcnews.com). Hispanics show higher patriotism levels than whites by the second generation (nbcnews.com). And as for intermarriage, Pew reports that the largest amount of intermarriage is between whites and Hispanics, a 42% rate (huffingtonpost.com, Hernandez, T., 5/19/17). Oh yes, Brokaw cited GOP fears that Hispanics will vote increasingly more Democratic (nbcnews.com). Well, Mr. Brokaw, with Donald and his GOP friends attacking Hispanics, why should they support “Team Red?” In any event, many Hispanics have, in certain races, supported GOP candidates including W Bush as well as current FL Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP FL Sen. Rick Scott (see nbcnews.com).
Brokaw made a weak apology about offending Hispanics. However, he did not apologize for comments that they should “work harder to assimilate or make sure all their kids speak English(nbcnews.com).”
Brokaw, of course, born in 1940, is not a member of the WWII “Greatest Generation” he chronicled. He apparently doesn’t understand what many of these veterans learned from their wartime experiences. I remember an NPR (National Public Radio) broadcast that was later reviewed in the Los Angeles Times. It dealt with WWII GI’s who had liberated Nazi concentration camps. One of them was a Mr. Olson from Atlanta. He made this comment, “The ovens were still smoking when we got there (Buchenwald). I promised that I would never let anything like this happen again. I came home and joined the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union (not a popular group in conservative and then segregated GA).” Olson never said the Holocaust was the Jews’ fault for not assimilating. He did not criticize Jews, Italians, Poles, and other immigrants for speaking in their native tongues. He never gave Nazis and their followers any sympathy or declared them “fine people.” Because of his wartime experience, Olson fought hatred of any kind and wanted to protect all Americans’ rights. Brokaw is unworthy of standing in Olson’s shadow and others like him whom he claims to admire. Brokaw and Professor Neely don’t belong to any “Greatest Generation.” They belong, instead, to the terrible “Trumpest Generation.” This “Trumpest Generation” with its horrible racism must be defeated by the majority of decent Americans in 2020 to “Make America Truly Great Again.”