Don’t Hate Aryssa Damron (It’s What Fox Wants)

Last week, Fox and Friends criticized Yale for bringing Black Lives Matter leader DeRay Mckesson to campus to speak in a lecture series on “Transformational Leadership” at the Divinity School.

Fox “News” pundit Tucker Carlson brought Yale sophomore Aryssa Damron on the show to denounce Mckesson as a “race hustler” and a “hater.” Her comments went viral on Yale social networks and she may never escape them.

She was turned into the meat shield behind which Fox could attack Black Lives Matter.

Tucker Carlson’s intonation as he “interviews” Damron sounds as if he is prompting a young child to thank some obscure relative for a lackluster birthday gift. To call them loaded questions would be an understatement; to call it journalism would be an insult to the craft.

Damron dutifully answers Carlson’s gleeful prods at the civil rights activist. Angry old white people across America grimace at America’s weakness for giving Mckesson space at Yale. Liberal Yalies indulge their impulse to tear Damron apart on social media (low hanging fruit).

And Damron. What did she achieve?

She wasn’t taking a stand on conservative values. No denouncing big government for stepping on our rights. She attacked a civil rights activist for five minutes on national television, using thinly-veiled racialized rhetoric and lazy research to judge his lack of “qualifications” to speak at Yale for two days.

Fox News targets a Black Lives Matter activist. Liberals shoot back on social media. Fox News gets more views and attention. Business at usual. Business. Fox News makes money off of inflaming partisan and racial differences. They made money off of all the views liberal students gave the clip on their YouTube channel. We clicked the link knowing what it would say, just to indulge our anger toward the “other side.”

Damron’s answers are predictable. She says the Divinity School inviting Mckesson makes her “disillusioned with Yale.” She nods and smiles when Carlson calls Mckesson a “hater” and a “race hustler.” She goes on to say that conservative students at Yale are marginalized, citing actually believable instances of students being harassed for wearing conservative paraphernalia. Carlson laments that liberals aren’t quite as open-minded as they pretend to be.

He ends by saying, “I really liked having you on. Thank you for doing this, and I really hope it doesn’t bring bad consequences to you when you get back to New Haven.”

Without a doubt, he knew exactly what was going to happen. And he loved it.

Liberal Yalies got vicious on social media when the video of the interview made it to the “Overheard at Yale” Facebook page.

In the interview, Damron says she pays over $60K a year to attend Yale, and expects better. In the comment thread, a peer outs her: she’s a Questbridge scholar—a recipient of a full-ride scholarship for “low-income, high achieving students.” She doesn’t pay $60K to go to Yale.

Being a low-income and conservative woman at Yale does truly put her in a marginalized position on Yale’s campus. Her zeal to speak on national news was just a nail in the coffin. Instead of using Damron’s parents’ income to reveal her hypocrisy or further bludgeon this low-hanging fruit, we have to recognize the ways in which corporate media manipulated all of us.

She’s a young person, relatively new to an overwhelming institution in a cosmopolitan city very far geographically and culturally from her home in Ashland, Kentucky, a city that is 95 percent white. She probably inherited many of her political views from her parents. She probably doesn’t understand the Black Lives Matter movement. She doesn’t yet know how to disguise her racism with politically-correct language like her wealthier conservative peers.

Going on that show went against her interests. It did nothing for her but surround her with even more conflict and judgment than she already surely faced. Already the first link on Google when you search her name is this inflammatory, racist clip where she is used by rich old men to fuel the fire and boost their sinking ratings.

If there’s one way to radicalize someone even further, it’s to exclude them from any world in which they can relate to the other side. As we rewatch the clip and attack Damron, Fox News profits.

Aryssa Damron was manipulated, and so were we. She’s the easy target. The systems her words represent, and the hate of Fox News—those are the real enemies.

She and I stand on opposite ends of the political spectrum of the campus, both radical in our ideologies and committed to our causes. I know the more she is attacked and excluded, the less she will understand, the more mindlessly she will believe the propaganda of Fox News.

So the next time you see her on campus, smile. She hasn’t had the best week.

Show her that people committed to social justice, like Mckesson, are not “haters” or “intolerant,” but rather generally good people devoted to helping and—more difficult yet—understanding other people.

by Sebastian Medina-Tayac

Hear from DeRay Mckessen on October 2nd and 3rd at the Yale Divinity School.

One comment

Comments are closed.