“Lizard Brains”: Historian and NBC Analyst Meacham Attacks Trump Supporters As Functioning On Primitive Limbic Systems

Below is my column on Fox regarding the recent remarks of NBC analyst Jon Meacham explaining how Trump supporters suffer from “lizard brains.” The statement is indicative of a long-standing trend in the media of insulting and biased comments about Trump supporters. Analysts seem to have dispensed with any notion of restraint or reason in such attacks.  What is most troubling is that there are students who support Trump at Vanderbilt and there have been complaints for years about an increasingly hostile environment for conservative students. Taking a professor who has publicly dismissed your political views as the result of a lizard brain is hardly welcoming.

Here is the column:

We recently discussed how Vanderbilt professor and historian Jon Meacham gave a quiz in his course on the 2020 Election in which students were asked “Was the Constitution designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery?” You had to answer “yes” or get points deducted.

It appears that the final exam in the class could prove even more demanding for any intellectually honest student if Meacham asks about the voters themselves. The NBC analyst this week declared that President Trump and his supporters are examples of being controlled by what is called “the lizard brain.”

It only got worse from there.

Meacham addressed a simple question of whether Trump helped himself with his base in the second presidential debate Thursday night. It is impossible on NBC, however, to refer to Trump voters without some derisive or insulting precursor. Meacham did not disappoint his audience.

“I think Trump did himself good with his base tonight,” Meacham said. “The question for America is how big that base is. There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the White man’s, the anguished, nervous White guy’s lizard brain.”

Meacham was referring to a primitive part of the brain in psychological literature: “Many people call it the ‘Lizard Brain,’ because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. It is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and fornication.”

Of course, even with the lead held by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the polls, roughly half of this country still supports Trump (or at least rejects Biden, who Meacham has endorsed). That is a lot of lizard people.

What is striking is that Meacham is supposed to give what NBC, MSNBC and PBS present as neutral, scholarly analysis. But his comment about Trump supporters having lizard brains captures why conservative or independent voters view the networks as biased and gratuitously insulting.

Indeed, these comments show that networks like NBC are now focusing entirely on Democratic and liberal viewers — writing off half of the American people as gag lines.

I have written repeatedly about how the media have helped Trump by fulfilling his narrative of open bias. Meacham shows that they are now enjoying this too much.

There appears to be no point that is too insulting or raw for national commentary so long as it is an attack on Trump or those who support him.

I did not vote for Trump, and I have regularly criticized him in columns and blog posts. However, I have watched the stereotyping of Trump supporters at media conferences for years. It suggests that roughly 63 million people in this country who voted for Trump in 2016 are knuckle-dragging racists.

The media have simply never tried to see any nuance or gain any insight into what is motivating Trump supporters. It is easier to dismiss them as a whole as racists and lizard people.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin has declared that Trump supporters as a whole are racists. That common stereotyping of Trump supporters is uncontested, even as the media object to Trump’s generalizations about other groups.

Miami Herald columnist and NBC analyst Leonard Pitts wrote a column headlined: “No, it’s not the economy, stupid. Trump supporters fear a black and brown America.”

The narrative has moved beyond Hillary Clinton’s description of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” to now portraying all Trump supporters as open racists.

“Make America Great Again” hats are denounced by academics as the symbol of “modern day hitlerjugend” and hate speech.

What is most distressing about Meacham’s comments is that he is an incredibly talented and insightful academic. But it is hugely popular to degrade Trump’s supporters on television. That can create its own conditioning reward system.

It is also popular in academia today to rewrite history to fit a narrative, like declaring simplistically that the Constitution was designed to perpetuate White supremacy and protect the institution of slavery. No nuance. No objectivity.

Following this logic, if you believe Trump is a threat, it follows that his supporters are threats. That actually sounds familiar. You could almost say that it sounds like … well … the lizard brain.

An article headlined “Why Your Lizard Brain is Keeping You Stuck and Specific Tools To Start Connecting” could be distributed as a self-help guide for network analysts.

The article states: “When you’re acting in one of these fear-based modes — whether you fight, flee or freeze — you can’t remember any of the great communication tools you’ve learned or the tips or strategies you’ve been practicing because you can’t access the part of the brain where that stuff is saved! Brain imaging has shown that when the amygdala is activated by negative emotions, it actually interferes with the brain’s ability to solve problems (or figure out how to get unstuck). But here’s the good news: positive emotions and thoughts do the opposite; they help you with creative problem-solving and strategic thinking.”

In other words, it is possible that tens of millions of voters are not lizard people, but people with opposing views. Yet, once Trump supporters are shown or discussed, it triggers these intense negative emotions in analysts who respond with fight and flight impulses.

Once you accept that, you can access parts of “the brain where that stuff is saved” from your training and your scholarship. You know. Like history.

189 thoughts on ““Lizard Brains”: Historian and NBC Analyst Meacham Attacks Trump Supporters As Functioning On Primitive Limbic Systems”

  1. When any opposition point of view feels it necessary to interject name calling, they immediately lose all credibility. Such childish behavior only reinforces their failure to clearly make their case. Such loud protests from the name callers appears to trigger their most basic instincts by lashing out at the opposition. That act alone usually proves the one receiving the name calling has struck a chord of truth for which the opposition was not prepared to address.

  2. Jonathan: As an admitted “progressive” I would not label all Trump supporters as “lizard brains”. Some may be “knuckle-dragging racists” but I think most of those who voted for Trump in 2016 actually believed he would “drain the swamp” in DC. Trump did just the opposite. I think a lot of Trump supporters have awakened to the reality that all along Trump had only one master–his own personal financial interests. For four years Trump lied to the American people. He took us for fools. As Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying: “You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time–but you can’t fool all the people all the time”. Nothing better captures Trump’s present moment in time. He failed to put the interests of the nation above his own personal interests and that of his family. He failed the most important part of his oath of office.

    In your column you also quarrel with historians, like Jon Meacham, who you say declare “simplistically that the Constitution was designed to perpetuate White supremacy and protect the institution of slavery. No nuance. No objectivity”. Gee, I didn’t think the issue was still in doubt. Although slavery is never mentioned specifically in the Constitution it is the red thread that runs through the founding documents. Slavery is the lynch pin that guaranteed the Constitution could be ratified by southern slave-owning states. The use of the terms “all men” and “the people” were implicit to mean only white men. In 1840 John Quincy Adams referred to the omission of the terms “slavery” or “slave” as “the fig leaves under which parts of the body politic are decently concealed”. Article IV, Sec. II, Clause III of the Constitution (Fugitive Slave Clause) provides that a slave escaping to a non-slave state could be forcibly returned to his/her slave owner. This Clause was one of the most abhorrent parts of the Constitution because it made the federal government an active participant in protecting the right of slaveholders to reclaim their “property”. You just cannot argue objectively that the Constitution was not a document written by and for slaveholders. Unless, of course, you have a “lizard brain”.

    1. There was a time I would have been offended by name calling however, even with my lizard brain, I learned quickly once an opponent defaults to name calling their opposition and credibility have evaporated. I learned this simple trait of human nature in 1957 when I was in the 3rd grade. Knuckle dragging racists? Really? Even if you were correct in your claims about POTUS (which U R not) your name calling effectively discredits your point of view. The obvious lack of facts to back up your claims also does not help your position. How is it a person who sounds educated, or at least passed some English classes, has not learned what I, a simple high school graduate, learned in 3rd grade about debate tactics?
      About Mr. Lincoln: He likely would not be pleased about his name or quotes being utilized in a way that makes it appear he would support a progressive agenda.

    2. As a former Democrat that voted for Trump I agree there are still knuckle dragging racists in the country. Thankfully FBI efforts have put the most of the well known, Aryan Nations and KKK types in jail. Those felons do not vote thankfully. Bernie may want to rethink his idea of giving them voting rights. As for my vote it was for the economy and an end to pointless military operations. Back in the 70’s I heard DC referred to as the Babylon on the Potomac. Draining the swamp was never going to happen in 4 years.

      When you read the Federalist papers and the personal writings of the founders it is clear the majority of the country did not support it. Even in the south there was a small percent of slaveowners, as well as black slaveowners. The main reason for it was economic gain for Whites and Blacks. https://www.africanamerica.org/topic/did-black-people-own-slaves

      Indentured servitude was a short term form of slavery with equally harsh working conditions, the same laws applied as to slaves. They were also considered property. Only about 40 % lived to see freedom.

      We should all be thankful the world has evolved no matter
      our race.

  3. All voters are lead by their lizard brain.
    “A ballot is just a substitute for a bullet. If your vote isn’t backed by a bullet, it is meaningless. Without the bullet, people could ignore the election outcome. Voting would be pointless. Democracy has violence at its very core!” ~Muir Matteson, “The Nonviolent Zone”
    If I did business in the same manner as government actors do, and forced strangers to give me money, would you consider me a criminal?

  4. One must assume that’s the reason deplorable “chumps” have such limited brain power.

    1. One must assume people of both sides are created with certain cookie cutters. The generalization possibilities are endfless. 🙂

  5. Now that traditional public high schools, colleges, and universities have vanished and have been replaced by Leftist Indoctrinaction Entities (“LIEs”), it’s become easier than ever to get straight A’s. Today’s students no longer have to undertand or learn anything. All they have to do is to show the LIEs that they have satisfactorily absorbed leftist ideology and regurgitate it back like automatons. And for those who want to get some A+’s as well as straight A’s, there’s a simple trick that can easily accomplish that. All a student has to do is to listen closely to the specific words that the leftist “professor” is spouting and repeat the exact leftist phrases in papers written or exams and mention that those words are “brilliant,” “richly intellectual,” “exude unassailable in logic and reasoning,” and “are truly magnificent and enduring ideas.” The leftist “professor” will issue an A+ without a second thought.

  6. ““I think Trump did himself good with his base tonight,” Meacham said. “The question for America is how big that base is. There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the White man’s, the anguished, nervous White guy’s lizard brain.””

    Is Biden lacking in Caucasian spine?

    “What is most distressing about Meacham’s comments is that he is an incredibly talented and insightful academic. But it is hugely popular to degrade Trump’s supporters on television. That can create its own conditioning reward system.”

    Sharp insight.

    “It is also popular in academia today to rewrite history to fit a narrative, like declaring simplistically that the Constitution was designed to perpetuate White supremacy and protect the institution of slavery. No nuance. No objectivity.”

    Serious issue. Given the number of northern states that had begun the abolition of slavery under their state constitutions before the federal Constitution was ratified, should we believe the Union was more designed to protect institution of slavery, or gradually abolish it?

    George Washington freed his slaves:


    Slavery and indentured servitude were prohibited in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787:


    But the charge of white supremacy involves so much more than this.

    1. Meacham isn’t that talented (much less ‘incredibly talented’) and he is not an academic. He is a journalist. He is also obtuse, as you can see here.

    2. “should we believe the Union was more designed to protect institution of slavery, or gradually abolish it?”

      Define “the Union”? Slavery was still legal in multiple States within the Union even after the end of the war.

      The Emancipation Proclamation exempted States in the Union as well as Confederate States under Union control. It’s amazing how many people still believe the Civil War was fought over slavery. It was not fought over slavery, it was all about money and control of same.

      Once the war was over and slavery became illegal in all of the States Lincoln wanted all of the freed slaves out of the US, and offered to send them back to Africa or South America. Abe Lincoln was deeply racist and was no fan of the black man.

      1. Lincoln was interested in Colonization in his younger years. I don’t think there was any practical program on the table in 1865 to put it into effect. The logistics would have been a nightmare and the result a horror.

        It’s doubtful Lincoln was any more contemptuous of or hostile to blacks than a randomly selected Illinois resident.

      2. As was indentured servants who were also considered property and subject to most of the laws that were applied to slaves. Both institutions were inherited from the British.

        Originally an idea under Monroe in 1822 and why there is the nation Liberia with the capital of Monrovia.

  7. Had to endure this idiot when he was swimming in the Tennessee river in Chattanooga. He’s grown more miserable and a bigger tool than then, but still the pompous schmuck he was in his AA days.

  8. ‘BREAKING: Tucker Carlson’s show tomorrow night will be devoted entirely to an interview with Tony Bobulinksi, the Biden family insider-turned-whistleblower whose explosive e-mails show that Joe Biden himself was deeply involved in Hunter’s foreign business dealings.

    According to a source familiar with the planning, Bobulinski will play recordings of Biden family operatives begging him to stay quiet and claiming Bobulinski’s revelations will “bury” the reputations of everyone involved in Hunter’s overseas deals.’


  9. Jon Meachum is a smug “professor” who is more of a threat to student’s freedom than any so-called despotic action taken by Trump or any other conservative republican. The woke luddites get triggered by a hat, or a sign but have no issue with deducting points off a grade for the heresy of disagreeing with the woke tyrant in front of the class.

    I hate the fact that I paid for and read one of Meachum’s books because as much as I believe in freedom of thought, I do not believe in supporting opposing views with my own financing. I will not demand a boycott of the NBA, but I canceled my NBA Package, I will not call for a boycott of Don Lemon and CNN, but I certainly will never watch that “news” station. The book I read by Meachum was a decent book, but his bias dripped into the process (with the author’s glee) and it did take away from the reading experience.

    Just one last point: The left, guys like the author in question, call people that may support Trump racists, nazis, “lizard brains”, misogynists’, homophobes and Islamophobes..and then they wonder why there are “shy” Trump voters that polling misses.

      1. Oh, I studied the breakdown and put up info on this about twenty times the past year

        Adelson does give a lot to Republicans it’s true

        but the Biden camp and the DNC have a massive edge in billionaire donors. there’s really no valid comparison which proves otherwise. educate yourself

        also the donations of Soros got to DNC, pelosi campaign, many different cutouts

        “one hand many fingers–” as the saying goes–

        the hand is that of the old Hungarian born vampire Soros

  10. ( HUSH, you fool! You’ll only enrage them into voting !! ) Is there some sort of contest out there to see who can launch the most profound insult w/o actually resulting to profanity ??

    1. Oh it’s okay.
      They aren’t going to vote anyway. Voting is for suckers who believe in the Constitution.
      They are going the burn the place down, kill ’em all revolution route.

  11. Same ol’ sh!t, different century.
    The goebbelists job is to gin up hatred for Trump and his supporters and rebrand them as subhuman in order to manufacture and lay the foundation of the ultimate justification for the superior political race to to kill them.

    1. Do you also object to Trump using subhuman language for people?

      For the record, Democrats don’t want to kill Trump supporters.

      1. Of course they do. Why else would they set the stage to make that inevitable and gin up their foot soldiers with violent hate filled self righteous lust to eliminate all who exercise their right to Constitutional Rights to disagree by any means necessary?

      2. “For the record, Democrats don’t want to kill Trump supporters”

        Is that a new record?

        Because the current release has a lot of them trying to maim or kill anyone who isn’t in exact lockstep with them.

        Very reminiscent of the Brown Shirts & Black Shirts in 1930’s Germany and Italy.

  12. “ . . . he is an incredibly talented and insightful academic.“
    Really Turley?
    Doesn’t seem like it.

    1. So you’ve seen Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.
      Or are you going high brow and referring to Pascal’s argument for God’s existence based on probability?

        1. It’s a good flick.
          Sundance and Butch did not get out alive, and Pascal’s argument to believe in God revolved around a vision of the world as a room in which someone was executed every few minutes. No one got out alive.
          We don’t, of course.
          Ordinarily, I try not to make my posts personal.
          It distrracts from what I am trying to say.

          1. aha! thank you old guy I was quoting Jim Morrison’s song Five to one


            Love my girl
            She lookin’ good, come on, one more
            Five to one, baby
            One in five
            No one here gets out alive, now
            You get yours, baby
            I’ll get mine
            Gonna make it, baby
            If we try
            The old get old
            And the young get stronger
            May take a week
            And it may take longer
            They got the guns
            Well, but we got the numbers
            Gonna win, yeah
            We’re takin’ over
            Come on!
            Your ballroom days are over, baby
            Night is drawing near
            Shadows of the evening
            Crawl across the years
            Yeah, walk across the floor with a
            Flower in your hand
            Trying to tell me no one understands
            Trade in your hours for a handful of dimes
            Gonna’ make it, baby, in our prime
            Come together one more time
            Get together one more time
            Get together one more time
            Get together one more time

            1. Mr Kurtz……….I probably mentioned before (I’m old…can’t remember) but I wax working at Giant Music in DC area when Morrison died in Paris. A middle aged woman came in the day after. he died….her head wrapped up in a 1950’s silk scarf, huge black sunglassses covering her face, her mouth frozen, downward. She didn’t say a word….and bought every Doors album in the store………..I checked her out at the register, then she left quietly. It was Jim Morrison’s mother. Very sad experience.

  13. The Austin Lounge Lizards.These Lizards are the best to come out of Austin Texas! There won’t be a dry eye after hearing these reptilian wonders. They make me proud!

      1. “It’s [China], stupid!”

        – James Carville

        Japan and US begin major military exercise as concern about China grows – 26 Oct 2020 09:03PM

        TOKYO: Japan and the United States on Monday (Oct 26) began air, sea and land exercises around Japan in a show of force in the face of increased Chinese military activity in the region.
        The Keen Sword exercise is the first big drill since Yoshihide Suga became Japan’s prime minister last month with a vow to continue the military build-up aimed at countering China, which claims Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea. Keen Sword, which is held every two years, involves dozens of warships, hundreds of aircraft and 46,000 soldiers, sailors and marines from Japan and the United States. Running until Nov 5, it will include cyber and electronic warfare training for the first time. “The security situation around Japan has become increasingly severe. This gives us the opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the Japan-US alliance,” General Koji Yamazaki, Japan’s top military commander, said on board the Kaga helicopter carrier in waters south of Japan. Japan’s biggest warship was accompanied by US aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan and its escort destroyers. The 248m Kaga, which was returning from patrols in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, will be refitted as early as next year to carry F-35 stealth fighters. Suga this month visited Vietnam and Indonesia as part of Japan’s efforts to bolster ties with key Southeast Asian allies.

  14. Imagine if the United States were run by denizens of the theoretical physics department.

    1. I didn’t want to believe it and I saw it and very disappointed with these highly intellectuals and elites they think they are better than the rest of us. It is quite sad.😢

  15. Great now the regressive left is going waaaaaa y back in history to properly describe themselves but clearly the lizards outclass the marxists

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