Dr. David Tucker is the son of tenor opera legend Richard Tucker. While he wanted to pursue a career in the arts, his father demanded he become a doctor. So Dr. Tucker obtained a degree from Cornell University’s Medical College and launched his career as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health, doing research on infectious diseases during the Vietnam War. He then entered private practice where for 27 years, he served as director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Jewish Hospital. After retiring in 2004, Dr. Tucker served as an assistant clinical professor at the NYU School of Medicine.
Despite his long list of accomplishments in the medical field, one of his proudest roles was serving as a founding board member of his father’s namesake nonprofit, The Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Every year, the foundation gives thousands of dollars in grants and awards to promising up-and-coming American opera singers. Some of that is thanks to Dr. Tucker’s own personal contributions. But on July 20, Dr. Tucker was tragically cancelled from his role on the foundation’s board. Effective immediately.
“The Richard Tucker Music Foundation condemns the hurtful and offensive comments made by one of our Board members, David Tucker,” the foundation said in a statement. “David has been removed from the Richard Tucker Foundation Board of Directors, effective immediately.”
Dr. Tucker’s offense? Supporting the Trump administration’s use of federal officers to crack down on violent rioters who at the time, had overwhelmed the city of Portland for more than 50 consecutive days.
“Good. Get rid of these thugs and I don’t care where you send them,” Dr. Tucker wrote from his private Facebook account in response to a Washington Post story shared by Julia Bullock, a black soprano. “They are a Pox on our society.”
Dr. Tucker later followed up to expand on his opinion, writing:
“The real violence is with many of the so called peaceful protesters. Occurring in many of the Dem controlled cities. About time someone tough will try to crush the mob before they destroy and kill more innocent people. Bravo to Trump to send in Federal troops. Unfortunately the police have been castrated by the Left leaders. Get them out of here and ship them out! We need law for justice and peace in our streets.”
Many users were appalled by Dr. Tucker’s “extreme position” and accused the Jewish doctor of racist rhetoric and “talking like a Nazi.” Bullock described his remarks as “violent and racist.” But now it wasn’t just Dr. Tucker whose views were problematic—the entire foundation was under attack.
“It’s unfortunate to read these comments but not at all surprising,” wrote Russell Thomas, a black tenor who won the foundation’s career grant in 2010. “This perhaps explains why in its 40+ year history only 1 black person has won the Tucker award.”
Lawrence Brownlee, who in 2006 became the foundation’s first black winner of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, piled on, posting about the “painful, racist rhetoric perpetrated by a board member.”
“This language was deeply disappointing and personally hurtful, and it casts a shadow on the legacy of the foundation itself,” he said in part, adding, “we have an obligation to be clear about language that is demonstrably racist and perpetuates the problematic, systemic oppression that we seek to eradicate from our field and the world.”
Dr. Tucker responded to the accusations and denied that his remarks had anything to do with race. “Pulling the race card is another convenient excuse to modify excellent standards of vocal artistry,” he said. “I am always impressed with the fairness of the panel of judges to pick a legitimate winner for the Richard Tucker Award. The Tucker family is certainly proud of this Foundation and how it has [helped] bring wonderful talent to the world of opera.”
But it was too late. The cancellation was underway.
“Cancel culture is a tool for times like these, and an effective method for muting the voices that threaten all of us,” a Facebook user wrote on the thread. Piling on, another shared the address and phone number of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and its board chairman so the mob could more efficiently cancel Dr. Tucker.
Another called in the media. “The New York Times would get a KICK out of this,” they wrote.
The board first called Dr. Tucker and asked him to resign. Dr. Tucker replied that he didn’t think anything he said was racist and that resigning would be an act of apology. He was not sorry for his privately expressed opinions about violence breaking out on the streets.
So on July 20, the board of his father’s namesake foundation fired him—via email.
“I didn’t label anyone with color,” Dr. Tucker told The Federalist. “I said the people who are destroying monuments and property, in my opinion, are thugs and the federal troops ought to get them out of here. I meant out of Portland and away from the federal courthouse.”
The reason he used the term “pox,” Dr. Tucker explained, is because it’s a medical term. “I am a doctor,” he said. “To me, a pox is a stain. And to me this kind of anarchy and violence is a stain.”
As for the allegations against his father’s namesake foundation, Dr. Tucker said he nor the board have anything to do with picking the winners of its grants and awards.
Each year, Dr. Tucker explained, an independent panel of judges chooses the winners. While only one black artist has received the top Richard Tucker Award in 2006, over the years, the foundation says over a dozen black artists have received other study grants and honors.
Despite that fact—and no evidence beyond his political views about violent riots happening in Portland—Dr. Tucker was cancelled. Then on cue, The New York Times published its story.
“Opera Foundation Removes Trustee Over Offensive Comments,” the headline read. Despite Dr. Tucker being the central subject of the story, the Times didn’t bother reaching out to him for comment. In all the excitement of cancelling him, reporter Sarah Bahr forgot the most basic rule of journalism.
“It’s sad that a major newspaper, like The New York Times, would print such a negative article about me without first reaching out to hear my side of this preposterous story,” Dr. Tucker said. “I guess my comments would not fit the narrative that they wanted to reach the public with. The truth, many times, is forgotten in order to play to the agitators.”
In Dr. Tucker’s case, the majority of the agitators hardly knew Dr. Tucker personally, or anything about him.
Cancel Culture Inc.
Dr. Tucker’s story of losing his spot on his family foundation’s board for expressing political opinions that more than half the country holds is hardly unique.
Earlier this month, Boeing communications chief Niel Golightly was forced to abruptly resign after an employee complained about an article the former U.S. military pilot wrote 33 years ago arguing women should not serve in combat. The New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet lost his job for publishing the opinion of a sitting U.S. Senator on the newspaper’s opinion page. Google employees lobbied to remove Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James from its AI ethics board, and were so successful they cancelled the entire board. NBC tried—and failed—to use the power of Google Ads to cancel The Federalist.
Clearly, tolerance and viewpoint diversity only apply to one side. And if your opinions happen to have anything to do with President Trump, you’re automatically disqualified.
In the case of Dr. Tucker, the media coverage made his cancellation all the more painful.
“Why did they have to go national with it and scapegoat me?,” he asked.
The answer, of course, is that The Richard Tucker Music Foundation chose to sacrifice Dr. Tucker to save themselves. In today’s cancel culture, defending a person’s ability to hold and express certain political opinions is too great of a risk. Standing up for them sadly requires a great deal of courage—something that people in powerful positions too often lack. Dr. Tucker’s board members figured that if they defended him, they might get cancelled, too. So they bowed to the mob and enabled the viscous cycle to go on.
A recent CATO poll found that 50% of strong liberals support firing Trump donors. Dr. Tucker’s humiliating story is a reflection of that. The same poll found that 62% of Americans have political views they’re afraid to share. This fear crosses party lines—majorities of Democrats (52%), independents (59%) and Republicans (77%) all say they feel they have to sensor themselves.
In today’s culture, these majorities are not wrong. If you say the wrong thing, you risk losing friends and getting fired. Making matters worse, in the Black Lives Matter era the new standard is this: speak out against anarchy, and you’re a racist. Speak out against violent rioters using power tools to saw through a fence protecting federal property and attacking officers with mortar-style fireworks and lasers, and risk losing your job. In the case of Dr. Tucker, risk losing your character, too.
But at 79-years-old, Dr. Tucker isn’t bowing to the mobs. He won’t get cancelled quietly.
“I want people to understand my story, who the real David Tucker is, how he loved and respected his mother and father, how and he tried to lead the best life possible,” he told The Federalist, adding:
“I’m not a saint, but I think I’ve tried to lead my personal and professional life in a way I would be proud of, and my wife has done the same. All of us have made mistakes but I’ve tried to make the world a better place. I don’t think riots and killings and taking down all kinds of monuments and attacking free speech is a way to live a good life. I don’t support that.”
If the son of a famed opera singer who’s made substantial donations of his own dollars to support young American artists from all backgrounds can get cancelled for the crime of denouncing anarchy, no one is safe. Dr. Tucker has the experience and means to stand up for himself, but how many Americans don’t—or won’t?
“Our country needs to come together, but capitulation and appeasement to the mob will never lead to a more perfect union,” Dr. Tucker wrote in a letter addressing the board members who fired him. “Proper discourse and a true belief of the First Amendment [free speech] should be one of our top priorities.”
At the end of his letter, Dr. Tucker paraphrased a Winston Churchill quote: “If you keep feeding the alligator, eventually it will eat you last.’”