ALPERN AT LARGE--Some folks reading this will immediately decry the "Le-Mon" in this title, and they should--this well-known, prominent anchor properly pronounces his name as "Don Lemon"...like the fruit.
It's not nice or appropriate or mature to make fun of a person's name, and it's not nice to make fun of the way a person might talk.
And it's especially inappropriate and insulting to make fun of a huge swath of America in decrying their intelligence and education, as the prominent and well-known CNN host Don Lemon just did.
Sure, we can reasonably joke about "is Don a Lemon?" or "what's with the Orange face, President Trump?" Yet ultimately, Don Lemon is supposed to live up to his educated, established career as a journalist to be respected as such.
Ditto for our current President, which is why it's so infuriating to many when Donald J. Trump all-too-frequently speaks in such an UN-Presidential manner.
But it's one thing to joke about a person's name, and it's another thing altogether to demean and make fun of a large group of people--thereby lumping them as less than human, and as a sort of lower human lifeform.
We just started Black History Month...so would it be appropriate in a public setting (not some private joke that is inappropriate and unsuitable for the public venue) to, for example, make fun of how black Americans talk?
Of course not--the movie "Airplane" and "Blazing Saddles" pushed the envelope on humor, but it's just that...humor!
Similarly, there are numerous movies or private jokes that make fun of Jewish people, gay people, Muslim or Latino or white people, etc. The Dave Chapelle show was a show that virtually everyone who watched it loved...and he probably brought much of America together by that humor.
But back to Don Lemon, who perhaps just made a major campaign ad to re-elect Donald J. Trump without his foresight or approval...but he can blame one person for that sudden and startling reality:
Himself, Don Lemon.
Don Lemon is supposed to make a few jokes, and laugh softly at a few jokes, but be above the fray when a complete jerk like Rick Wilson, makes a long, winding joke slamming and demeaning people with Southern accents and who are conservative...and then another complete jerk, Wajahat Ali, joins in.
Don Lemon COULD have, and SHOULD have, stated something like "OK, OK, you're a little cute and funny there, but easy on our viewers from the South and Midwest." Instead, he cracked up and just couldn't contain himself.
A little giggle is one thing--because Southerners make fun of themselves all the time. But egging on a couple of chuckleheads like Rick Wilson and Wajahat Ali with his complete laughter was a revealing note for much of America...
...and particularly the part of America who really doesn't like Donald Trump's messaging but is even more aghast and confounded at the outright bigotry coming from a media that not too long ago had more credibility with just about all parties.
That includes CNN, by the way. Its ratings aren't too high, and keep nosediving, for a few reasons--arguably, CNN appears mostly observed and watched secondhand with clips from other news networks, including Fox (which has its own obvious and glaring bias, but is yet going up in ratings over the last 15 years).
To think that Rick Wilson used to be a Republican campaign adviser! And for those who wonder how the average Trump supporter feels about either Obama or the Democratic Party (which itself is a pretty diverse between moderates and liberals, and even progressives and socialists), everything appears to be a disagreement...
...yet the average Trump supporter despises the former GOP of the Bush era, and as well other so-called Never-Trumpers who clearly (as bigot-extraordinaire Rick Wilson so blatantly showed) isn't just against Trump but against the GOP base that Wilson once was supposed to help support.
Wilson (and perhaps many of the GOP elite that used to run that party) is probably more resented and held in contempt because they hold the GOP base in contempt. The Trump base has no shortage of folks who are very unhappy with the texts and tweets and epithets the trash-talking President regularly barfs out...but they reeeeeeeeeeeally hate bigots like Wilson.
And Wilson, and as well Ali, are just that...bigots.
Maybe we can all make fun of all bald folks or maybe we can make fun of all Indians...but that would be just plain wrong. Because it's bigoted and cruel and hurtful...and entirely divisive at a time when everyone is supposed to be helping to bring folks together. Hence Wilson and the former GOP elite is appropriately despised.
And maybe Wilson should remember that his right to carry arms and protect himself comes from the same swath of supporters he once represented, and the swath he clearly deems unintelligent.
By the way, I should emphasize that in my youth I lived in the South for my medical training for five years. I came from California, presumed that they weren't as sophisticated, and then rapidly learned that it was ME who was the bigot. Southerners are just as smart as you and I, and people who use that accent is no less smart than those with a Northeastern or other accent.
And if the South is so damned illiterate and uncivilized, why the hell are so many educated, elitist Californians moving there?
To suggest that Trump supporters know nothing about geography, math, English, etc. is just plain wrong--and it should be remembered that this wasn't just a flippant, understandable moment, but rather a prolonged, extended bigot-fest.
It should again be asked: why are so many Americans embracing Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, two men who wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in Hades of a political future a mere 20 years ago?
Because too many Americans, young and old, feel abused and exploited, and left behind to die. Hence, I might question the narratives and perspectives of Sanders or Trump supporters, but why should I (or anyone else who purports to be kind and respectful) demean them?
Shouldn't we try to understand and tolerate, if not persuade these others, to reconsider...but respect them regardless?
Shall we throw away the collective perspective intelligence of black Americans? Of Latinos? Of gay/lesbian Americans? Of Jewish, Christian, or Muslim Americans?
How did that the "53% statement" of Mitt Romney help his election chances? How did the "basket of deplorables" statement of Hillary Clinton help her election chances?
On a major note, Don Lemon isn't running for any public office--but the long, long, long laughter of Lemon, Wilson, and Ali really made them the Moe, Larry, and Curly Three Stooges of the media and the "political establishment" that has made Trump so popular.
And they just proved Trump right...again, and perhaps more dramatically than anything we've seen in a long, long while.
So should Trump be-reelected, and at the very least if you see this clip again and again and again in the next few months, please remember:
Don Lemon may have just made a major move to successfully re-elect President Trump.
Which begs the final question, no matter how Lemon later mentioned he was only laughing at a single joke (it wasn't a single joke, though), of how smart and insightful and educated that Lemon, Wilson and Ali are to be considered by 21st Century America after all the divisiveness that has occurred for far, far, far too long.
(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was (termed out) also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)