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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21Comments

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  1. 1
    Janice Farnham, Ph.D., RJM

    Janice Farnham, Ph.D., RJM: I was visiting professor of religion at Trinity in 1990-91, and Tucker Carlson was a senior in one of my classes: “The Church and the Poor.” He was a religion major, I believe. Like so many Trinity students at the time, he was bright but too facile, obviously unconcerned that academic success relies on hard work as well as intelligence. He was genial and eager to engage, until he wasn’t. I didn’t think he ever finished the B.A. requirements. His confidence and self-assurance made it clear that his privilege/wealth would carry him into positions of security, prominence, and economic success.
    I am saddened to see that a young man of promise has become a spokesperson for some of the dark impulses of the human community. There were many other Trinity students who have been beacons of light and conscience. My question: how did this Tucker get the way he is?

  2. 2
    John Vallmont '92

    John Vallmont ’92: Tucker is a great example of somebody who works hard and has been a hugely successful. He speaks for the millions of Americans who are tired of the Liberal nonsense that infests accademia and the media. He is articulate and he is certainly right on the mark. I remember him very well from my days at Trinity and it is a shame that the woke generation doesn’t give credit where credit is due. Certainly one of our most successful and hardworking alumni. Perhaps Trinity should try to develop a better relationship with the very people who support the university rather than the radical left who never give any money to the college and do nothing but cause division.

    • 3
      Aaron Silverman '93

      Aaron Silverman ’93: It’s a shame that he doesn’t speak for the patriotic conservatives who are also tired of the un-American, xenophobic, racist nonsense that currently infests the (allegedly) conservative media.

      He makes good points on occasion, but lately he seems less focused on actual conservative principles than on proto-Fascist nativism that appeals to the Trumpist wing of the GOP. I guess he’ll sell more books that way.

    • 4
      Don Berry

      Don Berry: It is now July 2021. If Tucker Carlson was ever right on the mark, or if he ever made any good ponts, that is no longer the case. Trinity leadership and grads should denounce him.

    • 5
      John Brewer

      John: you mention “liberal nonsense,” as a general statement. Typical rhetoric for someone without articulation. Why don’t you use your Trinity Education and try to elaborate or maybe give an example. I think you drank too much Fox News Kool-Aid! ….. you probably get ALL of your news from the Faux News, which is a joke!

    • 6
      Luke B

      Have you read his texts from the Dominion lawsuit? He’s lying to you and he admits to it in his texts. Clearly Trinity didn’t teach you critical thinking.

    • 8
      Jay Hagedorn “95

      Jay Hagedorn ’95: I too am embarrassed that Tucker Carlson is a Trinity grad. He wields the benefit of an outstanding education and his privileged background to grandstand his xenophobic, white supremacist views in the name of so-called American ‘culture and heritage’ which sadly is wildly popular with conservatives addled by fears of the nation’s shifting demographic. Diversity is what makes America great. Embrace it!

  3. 9
    John (Jack) R Dempsey

    John (Jack) R Dempsey: I was raised in Hartford, CT and considered applying to Trinity in 1969. However, since I had just received my pilot’s license, I instead applied to the United States Air Force Academy and West Point. I was accepted at both and ultimately graduated the Air Force Academy in 1973 and went on to fly. Like Tucker Carlson, Mike Pompeo is a embarrassment to all military academies. So I feel your pain.

  4. 10
    Frank M. Nowak

    Frank M. Nowak: Tucker Carlson must have had some pretty poor civics, History, and political training at Trinity. Tucker believes that the United States is a democracy. It is not and never has been since Sept. 1787. The USA Government Type is a Constitutional Federal Republic as per the CIA Factbook on line. Tucker must not be very bright, an he definitely is stubborn and irritating.

  5. 11
    Cedric Howe

    Cedric Howe ’96: Tucker Carlson is emblematic of a specific strain of Trinity students, the second tier student who couldn’t buy his way into an Ivy League school. After siding with Russia after it’s invasion of Ukraine and his long-standing racist and anti-LGBTIQA+ (i.e. people) screeds, it turns out that collegiate institutions are allowed to revoke degrees. This is not about being right-wing, this is about being against human rights and pro-authoritarianism. Can we get on this?

  6. 14
    Ed George Jr

    If it were it not for Tucker Carlson, and his like, I would be a big Trinity supporter. As a member of the Class of ‘68 I was infused with a sense of obligation to my fellow men and women citizens; the unfortunately the College reverted to its mindless preppy/party culture by the time Tucker got there.

  7. 15
    Richard Wolfram

    It is time for Trinity to call time on Tucker Carlson, surely one of its most infamous, if not the most infamous, alumni. The college not long ago hired a VP for Branding. Really? I’d say it’s got a major branding problem — a Tucker Carlson problem. He is the very essence of illiberalism, and trumpets, while Trinity itself, and rightly so, lauds the value of a liberal education. And what does that consist in? The search for truth, knowledge and acknowledgement of fact, critical analysis and thinking, ranging widely. Carlson’s brand of entertainment — and a court has told us that’s all it is — on the biggest media platform in the U.S., is an insidious virus attacking the democratic foundations of the country. It’s an attack on rationality itself. (And the latest: his distortion of the Jan. 6th tapes, as of last night, March 6th, 2023.) Father Coughlin has nothing on Carlson. Trinity will not call him out, we know. But what it can do is issue a muscular, quite pointed defense of the liberal education and a takedown of illiberalism, letting no informed reader wonder just who and what it is about. Trinity can no longer ignore the dark shadow Carlson has cast on it, and on the brand that it evidently cares so much about as to appoint a VP for Branding. Do something!, President Berger-Sweeney. How about a symposium on campus on the value of a liberal education, the threats it faces — political, social, etc. — and how best to deal with them? Without eliding the obvious threats from the likes of Carlson and what he represents. This has now become urgent. The author of the article — and good for him for calling out Carlson — talks about Trinity’s place in the community. Well, how about Trinity’s place in the larger community, as a ‘citizen’, so to speak, of the US, with an obligation to stand up for our values when they are so clearly threatened. It can no longer stand quietly, idly aside. How about it, President Berger-Sweeney?

  8. 16
    Edward George Jr

    As a class of ‘68 member, I have reached the age when I could financially contribute to Trinity. I will not in any way until and unless the College itself openly disavows Tucker Carlson. His hateful statements and his duplicity (see the recent news re he privately hates Trump) are embarrassing to every one who holds a Trinity degree.
    He is not a true conservative, like for example William Buckley. He isn’t even a demagogue. He is a disingenuous man motivated by sheer greed for publicity and fame. But he is an enabler of demagogues. He has cost Trinity’s reputation. It is incumbent on the Board of Trustees to protect that Reputation.

  9. 17
    catherine R young

    He is a disgusting representation of greedy consumption narcissistic tumors. I am disgusted that he is a supposed graduate of Trinity. His transcript would be an interesting read, I am sure. PUKE!

  10. 18
    Rob Mead

    Carlson is a stain on the American body politic. And, sadly, there are some among us who view him as a champion for their grievances. The foundational question behind this essay is: Does Carlson represent Trinity’s values, or is he some sort of outlier? It is now incumbent on Trinity students and alumni to put forth thoughts and actions that demonstrate that Carlson does not speak for— does not represent — the “best of Trinity.” To sit quietly on the sidelines, to let his word go unchallenged, is to let him define how the world views the school, its students, and its grads. Trump severely damaged Penn’s reputation. DeSantis is soiling Yale’s. Don’t let Carlson do that to Trinity’s.

  11. 19
    Brian B

    We are devolving in to a Godless, degenerate society and are ever more swiftly sliding into a dystopian Communist dictatorship. The boot of the Xiden regime’s DOJ is planted on the necks of conservative Americans is applying more pressure daily, in fear their time is short. Now we are seeing more of the liberal Alinski tactics of projecting this fascistic moniker onto the current leader of the opposition party and his supporters. Right now we are seeing J6 DC attendees who DID NOT even enter the Capitol being called “insurrectionists” by DOJ gestapo, setting the stage for nore heavy handed arrests and convictions. I think this just illustrates how right Carlson was about our direction. I have friends whose children attend Trinity who are fine, upstanding young men. Free speech is a must in a collegiate environment so I commend the executives at Trinity for not interfering in the discourse at the school, allowing all facets of society to be represented in such. I support any college that allows unincumbered debate, sadly a rarity in our current society.

  12. 20
    Elizabeth Egloff

    Trinity college’s “beloved alum”, Tucker Carlson. I’m ashamed to say that I graduated from Trinity College, which is too cowardly to call out Carlson for his hateful opinions.

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