Trump’s presidency should be a continued call to action
Students protesting President-elect Trump at California schools and universities are signaling the start of a new counter-culture. Thousands of high school students in Los Angeles, many of whom would be directly affected by Trump’s draconian immigration policies, marched out of their classrooms last week in a heartening display of peaceful civil disobedience. Widespread demonstrations across the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems renewed calls for inclusivity in a climate that has become more hostile to people of color and minorities.
The energy that inspired these actions must not die, for the sake of the communities made most vulnerable by Trump’s demagogic, dangerous and, apparently, here-to-stay behavior.
Here’s the good news: Trump should give students every reason to stay active and hold his power accountable. His appointment of Steve Bannon, the alt-right anti-Semite of Breitbart News, as chief strategist shows that he plans on playing to the divisions in America to further his own dark vision for this country. This move should convince anybody honoring President Obama’s request that Trump be given a chance that we are in for at least four years of gross ineptitude from our President-elect — and we shouldn’t be quiet about it. When the white nationalist movement in America finds itself at the doorstep of the Oval Office, and even on our campus in the form of racist flyers, normalization would be the worst course of action possible.
Demonstrators at UC campuses should specifically demand that President Janet Napolitano commit to not entering into any agreement with law enforcement that would target undocumented students currently protected from deportation by an executive order issued in 2012 by President Obama. Napolitano helped enforce that order in her capacity as director of the Department of Homeland Security. So for her not to make this basic guarantee, as CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White did for his students, would be an egregious error.
The Editorial Board believes that with commitment and focus, students here can effect the kind of local change that will eventually resonate on a national level.
UC students who walk out to protest Trump create that change in the vein of a strong California tradition of civil disobedience. They make a life of dutiful civic engagement much more possible for themselves and their community. Among the protesters in the infamous Chicano Blowouts of 1968 was Los Angeles mayor-to-be Antonio Villaraigosa. Students then were calling for improved conditions in their dilapidated schools and, like today, were met with scorn by adults who didn’t approve of their tone or method.
And the Vietnam-era protests at UC Berkeley, accompanied by the Free Speech Movement, made possible the kind of resistance students now exercise bravely when the future has never seemed more uncertain and, for many, more bleak.
Trump knows the value of mass movements. When he first stepped into the modern political arena by making racist calls for President Obama’s birth certificate, he did so at the kind of free-wheeling rallies that would come to define his campaign. He’s already expressed interest in continuing the rallies and wants to take a “Thank America Tour” across the country.
Students who counter non-violently with their own demonstrations should not be ridiculed, but respected and supported for the patriotism they are instilling in the next generation.