McMaster University is currently reviewing the actions of Dr. Eva Lonn, a prominent cardiologist and professor of medicine at the institution, after her contentious social media remarks suggesting the deportation of pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
Dr. Lonn, who also serves as the medical director of cardiac health and rehabilitation at McMaster, faced backlash after commenting on a LinkedIn post about a peaceful pro-Palestinian protest in Brooklyn, New York, writing, “deport them all to where they came from.” A screenshot of her comment circulated widely on social media, inciting significant public outcry and leading to more than 6,000 signatures on an online petition demanding McMaster address the situation.
Following the uproar, Dr. Lonn issued a public apology on X, previously known as Twitter, and on LinkedIn. “I am deeply sorry for the pain my recent comments on social media have caused. Regardless of my intent, the harm inflicted was real and undeniable. I wholeheartedly apologize for my poorly worded and problematic statement,” said Dr. Lonn. She insisted her comments were made in the “heat of the moment” and meant to target protestors using “hurtful” language that supported violence directed toward Jewish people.
McMaster University distanced itself from the cardiologist’s comments. “The post does not align with our values in advancing inclusive excellence or responsibilities as healthcare educators and professionals,” a university spokesperson stated. “This matter is being reviewed by the university in alignment with university policies and will be addressed promptly and according to these policies.”
She commented from her LinkedIn account, which identified her workplace. pic.twitter.com/rRbR9fCbMu
— Ahmar Khan (@AhmarSKhan) November 3, 2023
Critics argue that Dr. Lonn’s position as an educator amplifies the potential negative impact of her words. “Comments like this indicate that that person holds negative sentiment towards individuals of that particular racial group or religious group. And I would be concerned about the type of care they provide to members of that particular group,” said Dr. Aliya Khan, a fellow professor of medicine at McMaster University.
Concerns have also been raised regarding Dr. Lonn’s history of controversial statements, including past remarks about American congresswoman Ilhan Omar and the COVID-19 pandemic. Yara Shoufani, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement, expressed dismay, highlighting Dr. Lonn’s previous posts as indicative of a pattern rather than a one-time lapse.
McMaster has not provided a timeline for the review’s completion, but the pressure for a resolution is mounting. “Racism and discrimination in healthcare impact real lives, it’s so troublesome,” remarked Tabassum Wyne, the executive director of the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada, insisting on accountability and clear consequences for actions that promote hate.
In response to the backlash, including threats to her safety, Dr. Lonn has deactivated her social media accounts and reported the threats to the Hamilton police, who have confirmed that their hate crime unit is handling a complaint.
Despite the harm caused by her remarks, Dr. Lonn’s apology and subsequent reflections have been noted. “I am taking this moment as a profound learning experience,” she said, pledging to engage more thoughtfully in public discourse in the future.