Thunderbird in a Divided World: A Statement from the Das Tor Staff

Courtesy The Patriot Post

In order to emphasize the importance of the results of Tuesday’s Presidential election, the editorial staff of Das Tor has decided to forego our usual publishing schedule in lieu of two pieces outlining the paper’s stance on Mr. Trump’s political intentions and their potential impact on the Thunderbird community. We also hope to initiate a dialogue within this community about the election and the changes it may portend for our lives and careers. To this end, we encourage you to share this statement within your personal networks. At the time of publishing, we also conducted a survey of our readers’ reactions, the results of which can be viewed here.

On Tuesday night, people around the world watched in stunned silence, in rage, or in celebration, as it became clear that Donald J. Trump would become President-Elect of the United States. The thing that nobody thought could ever happen, that the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked earlier this year as the sixth largest threat to global security, happened. Our predictive models and tools developed over the past decades in order to tell us what is likely to lie around the next corner failed us dramatically. In the new Age of the Unthinkable, nothing is true and everything is possible.

We do not wish to use this space to criticize the American electoral college, or to thrash against the results in denial. If anything, this clear and potentially dramatic change at the highest levels of government enacted at the grassroots is evidence of a healthy and functioning democracy. Instead, we wish to discuss what the choice of the American people means for the world in general, and for Thunderbird in particular.

Much of the rhetoric that has propelled Mr. Trump to victory is, objectively, rooted in xenophobia, extreme nationalism, and the rejection of a globalized world. This is not opinion; let us not forget (and how could we?) that Trump has vowed to literally wall this country off from the rest of the world. The term is frequently danced around for the sake of political correctness, but even Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton has gone so far as to call these beliefs by their true name: racism. This worldview has now been given a mandate to become institutionalized and bureaucratized. This is not, we think, a good thing to happen to a world already being driven apart by forces of tribalism and nationalism.

Much ink has been spilled connecting the rise of Donald Trump to the same sort of anti-globalist thinking which led to the vote in the United Kingdom to exit the European Union earlier this year.  There is a great deal of value in pursuing this logic. It is granted that there are valid criticisms to be made of liberal economic globalization, many of which are freely and openly confronted within the Thunderbird community. We have learned to handle the “flat world” claims of proponents of unrestrained interconnection with a degree of critical detachment. The truth is that integration and development are “spiky,” and the benefits have not been experienced uniformly throughout the world.

It is for this reason that it is dangerous to simply dismiss the beliefs of Mr. Trump and his supporters as racist or ignorant. The world has changed immeasurably over the past decades and continues to change at an exponentially quickening rate. Those who are fearful of or resistant to a change in the manner of living to which they are accustomed will go to great lengths to avoid such a change, as Tuesday’s results prove. But the election of Mr. Trump is not a healthy or responsible way to manage and mitigate the effects of these changes. The key to understanding and engineering the risk out of increasing global complexity is not to retreat into fear, hate, and isolationism; it is to maintain and perpetuate the foundational mission and function of Thunderbird: creating sustainable global prosperity through openness and interaction.

As both a product and a driver of economic and cultural globalization, Thunderbird has an obligation to remain a beacon of diversity and cooperation for the world. We call upon all members of the Thunderbird community – students, faculty, alumni – to repudiate any and all sentiments aimed at driving us apart because of the things that make us different from one another, and to fight this attitude in any situation in which it is encountered. A world growing increasingly divided presents us with unique challenges, and we must seek out new ways in which to bridge divides.

As we continuously meet and find creative solutions to these challenges, we can remember the words of President John F. Kennedy speaking about the need for a collective mindset of global unity if the human race is to continue to exist, mere months before his assassination:

“Let us not be blind to our differences–but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

The election of Donald Trump cannot, and will not, erase the progress that has been made toward the establishment of a peaceful, global society, for the bonds that unite us are far stronger than the forces seeking to break them.

And for those of you who stand for something that the American populace has voted against, we ask you to not lose hope. It might feel like Tuesday’s results indicate that your efforts have failed. They haven’t, for there now exists a firm oppositional base from which to reassess and re-strategize.

The only place to go from here is forward. Take a break, allow your frustration to dissipate, decide upon your next step, and then get back to it.

Your work, and the collective strengths and abilities of Thunderbird’s beautifully diverse community, are more important now than ever before.

 

4 Comments

  1. What I read in these two editorials are responses arising from the authors’ viscera: the deepest parts of us where our true values and beliefs roil and flow. So deeply, that it can take nothing less than Damascene moments to convert us on those fundamental levels. No matter the statistics, headlines, memes, clever speeches or laughs, I simply could not believe Obama or Hillary. I’m not saying he did everything wrong or that she would have; I’m saying it’s a visceral chasm between our belief systems.

    I’m a Thunderbird. And I (“even I!”) cast my vote for Trump. You can rightly surmise, therefore, that after each of the past two presidential elections, I felt the despair many Hillary supporters feel now. That’s how I know that no matter the statistics, headlines, memes, clever speeches or laughs, much of the world – and perhaps many Thunderbirds (more than I thought, if the assumptions in the articles above are valid) – will simply… never…. believe…. Trump. It’s a visceral chasm between your belief system and his. I get it. For the past eight years, I’ve moved forward despite intense, negative visceral reactions to Obama’s ongoing rhetoric. I used to think that sharing those reactions during classroom and coffee pot debates would change minds. But we don’t vote with our minds, do we? We vote from our hearts. One lesson from this election is that partisan arguments may not be enough to impact ballot box behavior.

    Now, as I watch social media stream memes showing “Caveman Trump” dragging a terrified Statue of Liberty to unimaginable ends, and as I read authors who paint Trump voters with wide paranoid xenophobic brushes, I get it. And I think, “isn’t it wonderful that we live in a country where we are free to process our grievances so graphically?” (Though I do wish we would talk more about the corollary freedom we have NOT to do so – on both sides).

    No President is a Messiah, or a Harbinger of Destruction. What the past eight years have proven to me is that while the Presidency has definite power to cause harm or good, this Republic is stronger than the person who holds that title. We Thunderbirds have unique skills for leading in a VUCA world. So let’s see what happens next, together. Shall we?

  2. Thank you for your article Lauren and team. As always I enjoy to read about your take on the world and learn about our beloved campus.

  3. Dear Alicia,

    I really appreciate your well thought out comment and the fact that you are engaging in a very constructive dialogue. I am often guilty of speaking without listening enough. Difference in opinion when it comes to politics, tax reform, the economy and so many other such subjects are the wonderful side effect of our free society and of our diverse views of the world.

    I struggle with reconciling what I perceive as contrary to my core beliefs as citizen of this world and a Thunderbird – inclusion, respect, love -, with what i understand to be the proposed world view of president elect Trump. While I can tell that the Obama administration and the potential Clinton one are on the opposite isle from where you stand, I wanted to better understand Trump’s side.

    How do you feel connected with him when it comes to his world view: gender, race, nationality, religion? I mean this as an open question. I really want to know. You see, the goggles I am wearing do not allow me to see how I can reconcile inclusion and diversity with his rhetoric and his political agenda. I listened to many speeches and interviews he gave in the past year and I cannot get myself to understand. This is a big question for me and I hope that you or others who are reading this can help me with.

    Cheers,
    Alina

  4. Many reasons have been proffered by the political pundit class about the stunning results of our November 8, 2016 national election. From my perspective, it comes down to economics. Americans have felt justifiably angered and disenfranchised by a post-industrial economy that has shipped millions of job overseas and where robots are increasingly replacing labor. Job insecurity and rising economic inequality have made Americans fearful about the future. This created the perfect storm for the rise of Trump.

    I feel strongly that it is our moral and civic obligation to fight against normalizing hate speech, racism, sexism and xenophobia. D.T.’s appointment of Steve Bannon–the former head of Breitbart News–as chief White House strategist, does nothing to inspire confidence in Trump’s decision making. Bannon’s career has been filled with race-baiting smear campaigns that target minorities, Muslims, women and Jews.

    I view President-elect Trump as an incurious, ignorant man with limited impulse control. I will continue to actively protest and fight against Trump’s brand of hatred, hostility, bigotry and revenge. To do otherwise would be to normalize Trump’s behavior and render me complicit in his platform.

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