Stern in a Time of Trump

A Visitor’s Perspective on November 8th

Sean Bellamy McNulty, Visiting Editor

Over the course of my exchange I have watched with fascination the American election process. It is one of the greatest shows on Earth, with high stakes, continuous drama and unpredictable outcomes. In the midst of the shocking election results, I have read with much interest my fellow Stern Oppy Editors’ thought-provoking analysis. This article is to contribute an outsider’s perspective to their analysis.

Those who have been following the Stern Oppy’s posts may have read in “The Bottom Line” that the charge of Stern students is to find ways to look beyond the promise of a fruitful future for yourselves, and to do your best to pursue one for everyone impacted by your decisions. But I say this only scratches the surface. If Stern students are serious about addressing the issues that face America and creating a truly fair society, they need to dedicate themselves to the creation of a country where everyone is free from the threat of inequality or the possibility of emotional discomfort or trauma.

Much progress in this regard has been made. The creation of safe spaces and trigger warnings is a helpful first step to protect the most vulnerable in society. The addressing of micro-aggressions is also important, as micro-aggressions are a real threat to the safety of all citizens and are only possible because of inequalities entrenched in society and reinforced through the English language. As was noted in “Inclusivity In And Out Of Stern,” “making future leaders” is more than just a marketing ploy for Stern. It is not enough to stand by and watch Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic and sexist behavior be tolerated and allow violent acts to become normative. The fact that some view the scrawling of TRUMP across the door of a Muslim prayer room as a non-issue is symbolic of this troubling new brand of fascism. The fact that some professors feel comfortable beginning their lectures with invocations to the violence and intense patriarchy of American Football is another such troubling sign. As the author of that piece has pledged to do, Stern students must intervene and educate when these problematic situations arise. If you don’t, who will?

This concerning election outcome has been attributed partly to xenophobia. Many free trade outcomes have not been pareto efficient as was noted in “Making Sense Of It All”, which included a Martin Luther King, Jr quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. Although I sympathize with my fellow editors’ article, this clearly does not go far enough, as John Maynard Keynes noted: “In the long run, we’re all dead”.  Now is not the time for victim blaming or allowing the progress of the past 8 years in marriage equality, transgender equality, gender roles, social stratification and cogno-physical disparities to be derailed.

Stern should not despair at the reassertion of the chauvinistic patriarchy in American society, but rather respond against it, by redoubling their efforts for the creation of a better world for all. For Stern there are only two possibilities; either you remain a righteous and fair campus or you end up under the thumb of racists and fear mongers. This latter must not occur; even if you are small, you are a force. A well-organized, diverse group can conquer a strong enemy. As Margaret Mead famously said that when it comes to changing the world, it’s up to “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens”.

I will close with another Martin Luther King, Jr quote: “The ultimate measure of a man* is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I hope that during this time of challenge and controversy, the Stern community rises to the occasion.

*surely if MLK was alive today he would have made sure to include all of the rich tapestry of human society in his powerful words.

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