Trump Jr. talks nationalism, open-mindedness and failings of higher education at Kuehne event

Trump Jr. talks nationalism, open-mindedness and failings of higher education at Kuehne event

Trump Jr. talks nationalism, open-mindedness and failings of higher education at Kuehne event
October 24
15:53 2017

Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of President Donald Trump, gave a speech emphasizing the positives of nationalism and the necessity of being open-minded on Tuesday at AT&T Stadium. UNT spokesperson Deborah Leliaert said 686 people attended, with guests listening to Trump Jr.’s speech followed by a Q&A session on the field.

Trump Jr. was a guest of the UNT Kuehne Speakers Series, as well as the subject of much controversy leading up to the event.

The President’s eldest son defined what he called true nationalism, an attribute he said many individuals incorrectly deemed negative.

“Some think it means a willingness to make war, but it’s the opposite,” Trump Jr. said. “The true nationalist always seeks peace.”

Trump Jr. condemned discrimination, saying it was contrary to real nationalism.

“Any attempt to single out fellow citizens on the basis of race, sex or sexual preference is contrary to the idea of nationalism,” he said, quoting his father. “We can’t say one half of the country is composed of deplorables, and candidly we can’t say that about the other half either.”

The First Son said President Trump is “an internationalist in the sense that he seeks good relations with other countries,” and advocated for a Reagan-like approach to ‘trust but verify’ in international relations.

His speech highlighted his own and his father’s views on policy, specifically foreign policy, which Trump Jr. said the U.S. hasn’t excelled at for the past two decades.

“With foreign policy, our record is one of foolishness and waste,” Trump Jr. said. “The election of my father was a repudiation of 20 years of foreign policy disasters under both Republicans and Democrats.”

Trump Jr. criticized the interventionism of former presidents and what he called “liberal imperialism” under former President Barack Obama.

Trump Jr. criticized the idea of microaggressions and universities protecting students from differing viewpoints. He said students brought to believe in microaggressions would not be able to succeed in the real world or at work. Trump Jr. pointed out what he saw as passive aggression from progressives. He said this practice allows a person to lash out without being hurt first, on the basis they would have been hurt.

“Passive aggression is when a regular conservative is portrayed as a Nazi,” Trump Jr. said, using the University of California, Berkeley as an example of this. “Universities have a special responsibility to stand up against that hatred. That’s what you do here at North Texas.”

Trump Jr. commended UNT for being different from other universities and for hosting the event despite criticism. He singled out UNT President Neal Smatresk while joking about the opposition to the event, referring to a Dallas Morning News story which uncovered emails in which Smatresk said he was attempting to stop the event from occurring.

In Smatresk’s short welcome speech preceding Trump Jr.’s lecture, he said much of the coverage regarding the event was fake news.

Despite his praise of the university’s tolerance, some of Trump Jr.’s examples of intolerance were similar to actions UNT has taken in the past. He described UC Berkeley offering mental health services to students in response to the Ben Shapiro event as exaggerated. UNT offered similar services after Trump was elected last year and after events such as the announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) repeal.

Trump Jr. called Trump supporters who were afraid to be vocal about their views “the ghost vote.”

“It was those quiet supporters that amazed me most,” Trump Jr. said. “It was that silent group that everyone seemed to miss, but we saw them.”

Trump Jr. characterized the left’s perception of hate speech as “anything that says America is a good country, that our founders were great people, that we need borders. Hate speech is anything favorable to the moral teachings of the Bible.”

He also gave a characterization of universities, saying they graduate students less educated than when they came in.

“Too often universities offer parents the following deal,” Trump Jr. said. “We’ll take $200,000 of your money. In exchange, we’ll train your children to hate our country and hate your religion. We’ll indoctrinate them and punish them if they disagree with us, we’ll hide them from new ideas, we’ll give them safe spaces and make the entire university an unsafe place.”

He also said the ideas and practices taught at universities do not prepare students for real careers.

“We won’t train them to find jobs when they graduate,” Trump Jr. said of universities. “We’ll do the opposite. [We’ll] make them unemployable by teaching them courses in zombie studies, underwater basket weaving and my personal favorite, tree climbing.”

He concluded by saying the diversity universities try and obtain isn’t actually diversity.

“They are simply striving for a place where everyone looks different but thinks exactly the same,” Trump Jr. said. “True diversity has to include diversity of thought, and today on most campuses that would be heresy.”

In culminating his description of modern higher education, Trump Jr. said the institutions would ruin students’ lives.

“Don’t worry, they’ll tell you when you graduate you can get a job as a Marxist philosopher, as a feminist, as a social justice warrior,” he said. “Along with making you unemployable, they’ll stick you with a student debt load well in excess of $100,000. In short, we’re going to ruin your life.”

After Trump Jr.’s speech, UNT chairman of the Board of Regents Brint Ryan joined him on stage for a Q&A session. Ryan said media coverage of the event had focused on negatives and had not highlighted the series’ goal to raise money for scholarships for national merit scholars.

While the series itself does not award scholarships, money generated from the events is used to offset the cost of UNT’s investment in the scholarships awarded to National Merit Finalists.

Ryan brought up the open letter from over 100 UNT faculty members opposing the event and asked Trump Jr. about his perspective on this attempted limiting of speech.

Trump Jr. advocated for debate as part of education, telling students to be open-minded and put themselves in the shoes of the opposing side.

Although the months leading up to the event were marked by critical commentary from UNT students and faculty, those in attendance said they were happy the event occurred.

“Think of how many people have been through what he’s been through,” Paul Gorman, 48, said. “He offered a unique perspective.”

Ryan broached the lack of media access for the event, saying outlets who could purchase a table for $5,000 were welcome to come.

“I don’t know why the university media wasn’t allowed in,” C. Dan Smith, UNT Foundation chairmen and lifetime member of the series, said. “I might have bought them a table if I knew. Mr. Trump did a good job and made people think about the different sides of issues. I wish we could have had a lot of students here.”

Feature Image: Donald Trump Jr. poses for a photo with a guest. Trump Jr. spoke at AT&T Stadium Tuesday on behalf of UNT’s Kuehne Speaker Series. Sarah Sarder

About Author

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder is the Senior News Writer for the North Texas Daily.

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15 Comments

  1. Loves UNT
    Loves UNT October 24, 16:07

    I hoped you learned something today, Sarah, and no longer think that conservatives are evil people who must be silenced no matter what. Now go out there and report real news, but do that professionally and without political bias. If you can’t do that, then switch to a different major.

    Reply to this comment
    • Idealist
      Idealist October 24, 18:25

      This comment was pointed and unnecessary.

      Reply to this comment
    • Haley
      Haley October 24, 20:22

      Is that not exactly what she did? Guess she can keep her major!

      Reply to this comment
    • Chad
      Chad October 25, 11:45

      Wow, lots of rude condensation and assumptions made here about the author. Sounds oddly similar to the rhetoric spewed by Mr. Trump yesterday…

      Reply to this comment
    • Alex
      Alex October 26, 20:54

      I’ve known Sarah for years have worked with her in several classes (no, I’m not a student journalist, too) and can tell you she’s one of the hardest-working, most dedicated students you’ll ever meet. She is an excellent reporter and goes the extra mile to get the story right. I know she will be an amazing professional journalist. No need for such a condescending comment.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Julie
    Julie October 24, 22:36

    Gag. Who would pay to hear that grifter under FBI investigation? So disappointed in UNT. Such a poor choice.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Constance
    Constance October 24, 23:47

    Don Smith’s remark seems disingenuous. If one wants students to be able to attend events like this, why not make that possible? It’s not as if students’ attending a speakers series has never been done before. The inaccessible set-up of this event has been covered in the NT Daily and many other media for weeks, if not months. Meanwhile, quite a large amount of taxpayer dollars and student fees have been used to pay for the event. 23 departments have contributed. No scholarships have as yet been disbursed. Wouldn’t the ~250K spent on this have done more good given directly to the students and to the educational mission of UNT? Aren’t there better ways to grind political axes than to use college students’ money?

    Reply to this comment
    • Loves UNT
      Loves UNT October 26, 08:10

      Kuehne Series is not a speaker series aimed at students. It is a fundraiser for potential donors. UNT already has the Distinguished Lecture Series for students, and that series is free and on campus. Why should Kuehne be the same as DLS? And students have attended Kuehne as invited guests of table sponsors.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Neil Nevins
    Neil Nevins October 25, 09:08

    I am deeply ashamed for my alumn. What a vile and smug man with a history of disgusting behavior who’s been allowed a platform on behalf of a school I love. In the eyes of Trump Jr, higher education teaching budding adults that they can aspire to be progressive and nicer to those who aren’t straight white men deserve to be laughed at. He’s every bit as disgusting as his father and a further statement to how selfish and mean-spirited the conservative ideology can be

    Reply to this comment
  5. Olaf
    Olaf October 25, 15:17

    “He also gave a characterization of universities, saying they graduate students less educated than when they came in.” I assume he was referring to Trump U and Wharton.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Mark Carl Rom
    Mark Carl Rom October 25, 16:10

    Greetings from a professor…Interested to learn if any parents, anywhere, at any time, would accept his deal of “$200K to indoctrinate children to hate country”.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Mark Carl Rom
    Mark Carl Rom October 25, 19:31

    So…your offer is this deal? $200K for hating our country?

    And…wait for it….you believe good faithful patriotic Americans accept this deal?

    Reply to this comment

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