Following Donald Trump’s election last week, the political climate on campus has been heated, to say the least. From gatherings around the Bell Tower to marches down Broad Street, the anti-Trump movement is sending its message loud and clear. But what is this message truly saying? Is this a call for peace and unity?
I’ve heard the phrases “Love trumps hate” and “When they go low, we go high” countless times, but the protesters saying these things often don’t seem to even believe what they’re preaching.
I say this because I have witnessed verbally aggressive and intimidating behavior coming from many anti-Trump protesters. The day after the election, I stopped to see a gathering at the Bell Tower. Around 50 to 100 people were standing around observing as a smaller part of the group in the center argued with a single Trump supporter. It wasn’t much of an argument, seeing as this Trump supporter was far outnumbered and could barely be heard. After the lone Trump supporter left, protesters continued, shouting about how they’re “scared” and that “This is not what America is.”
While it’s nice to see students getting politically active, this kind of political activity is not productive. What good is shouting down a Trump supporter or claiming that Trump is “not your president” doing? I can’t imagine such activities being even remotely convincing to passersby who may have voted for Trump or to those who aren’t very interested in politics. It surely wasn’t convincing to the Trump supporter they surrounded and called all sorts of names. Acting this way only has a negative effect on all parties involved. This behavior is undoubtedly driving away other liberals who either don’t want to be associated with these protesters or who didn’t vote for either candidate. Not to mention, it’s reaffirming, to Trump supporters, that they’ve made the right decision.
It’s quite obvious that a different approach is necessary for any progress to be made. I call for unity, regardless of political leanings, race or gender. The only way anything is going to change is if all of us, with all of our different values and opinions, can tame our aggression and have an honest discussion. Name-calling, stereotyping and oversimplifying are not going to work. We now realize how polarized this country is, it’s time we understand how we got here.
We need to give up weak arguments based on identity politics, stop dismissing those who disagree with us as bigots or ignorant and listen to each other. A well-informed and civil discussion will do unimaginable good for the future of this generation and this country as a whole. Without such a discussion, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. If we aren’t pursuing objectivity and reasoning based on facts and evidence, we aren’t pursuing truth. If we aren’t pursuing truth, we’re lying to ourselves. How can our intellectual or political opponents ever believe us if we can’t even be honest with ourselves? It’s time to put down the pitchforks and talk it out.
Vincent Sykes is a junior media and production studies major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.