In response to the actions of the Trump administration in its first month in office, the College of International Studies put on a series of panel speaker sessions to address various facets of the recent attacks on democracy. The speech that had the most impact on me was Dr. Velazquez’s commentary on the way many communities have faced these kinds of attacks before. From the forced internment of Japanese Americans, to the forced sterilization of 30% (!!!) of Puerto Rican women by 1970, to the treatment of immigrants today, American democracy has not always been distributed evenly and ignore that would be to whitewash and rewrite history.
My task going into the forum on democracy was to find a link to terrorism so I wanted to post my comments on that while I talk about the forum here:
During the forum on democracy, there was a lot of talk about the suppression of truth and the resulting limitations on liberty, democracy and freedom. From demonizing the media to demonizing the “academic elites,” it is clear access to information is changing in the Trump era and the ability of citizens to advocate and hold their government accountable seems to be shifting as well. While there were many other very important points made during the forum, this point is where I saw the most direct link to terrorism.
Suppression of liberty, both by governments and institutions, has been shown to correlate highly with rates of terrorism (Krieger Meierrieks 2011). When people feel they do not have power to affect their government, they become increasingly desperate and may turn to extremism. While I don’t think anyone is arguing the U.S. is going to become a hotbed for terrorism under Trump, I do think it is very important to realize the path we are going on and the potentially dangerous and destructive consequences of that. By normalizing sexism, suppression of the media, and denial of truth, we are eroding the democracy that allows us each to maintain agency and power within our government, which may lead to increased desperation within the American public. Additionally, the destabilization of global order caused by the changes Trump and other populist leaders are making may have a similar effect.
Overall, while the forum was not in any way an uplifting or encouraging experience, it was a necessary dialogue that all Americans should be thinking carefully about.
Krieger, Tim, and Daniel Meierrieks. “What Causes Terrorism?” Public Choice147.1 (2011): n. pag. Springer. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.