Campus Resistance Against Trump and Fascists... and the Need and Potential for Much More

March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Students, educators, and academics are among the millions upon millions across the U.S. who are profoundly disturbed and angered by the rise of the Trump/Pence regime to power and their moves to remake the form of political rule in this country into fascism. There were widespread walkouts, rallies, marches, and meetings on campuses after the election and around the inauguration. And campus protests have continued. There is a definite stirring among sections of students and faculty who are being compelled—by the outrages being committed by the Trump/Pence regime and the danger they see of even greater horrors—to act and speak out, and call on others to do so. This awakening of resistance on campuses is much needed, and it needs to be supported and spread much more broadly.

In recent weeks, one of the most important expressions of opposition on the campuses to the fascist regime was an editorial statement by a group of faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that calls for “acts of collective resistance” against Trump. The statement signers point to the dangers of normalizing Trump and what his regime is doing, including in particular the attacks on the scientific method: “As MIT faculty, we are particularly troubled by this President’s blatant disregard for the scientific method and by his administration’s attempts to gaslight the American public with the presentation of ‘alternative facts,’ a dangerous absurdity that threatens the tenets of empiricism, the rigor of rational argument, and the judgments that might follow from reasoned debate. Democracy and the rule of law depend upon facts. We cannot cede these.”

The statement says it is crucial to actually name what is happening now as “the first steps toward authoritarian government or even fascism.” The signers call for “a resolution recognizing the danger of the rise of an authoritarian regime in America and declaring our dedication to collectively fight, as faculty of MIT, and with faculty of other institutions of higher education, to ensure that the root of fascism does not take hold in this country.” Coming at a time when the Trump/Pence regime is moving rapidly ahead on its fascist agenda, this statement by faculty members of one of the most prestigious universities in the world is very timely and potentially of great impact. (“MIT Faculty Editorial Calls for ‘Collective Acts of Resistance’ Against Trump”)

One particular recent outrage from the Trump/Pence regime that sparked student protest was the February 27 meeting between Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and more than 60 officials from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This included a photo op that caught the HBCU officials smiling and chatting with Trump. To add insult to injury, DeVos said after the meeting that HBCUs were “real pioneers in school choice.”

As Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party says, the HBCUs weren’t a result of “school choice,” as claimed by DeVos, who aims to gut public schools and funnel students, in the name of “choice,” into private schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots. “Part of keeping Black people in the U.S. subjugated has been keeping them shrouded in ignorance. Part of the struggle against that subjugation has been fighting to break out of that enforced ignorance. It was in the face of this complete denial of educational opportunities that HBCUs grew and developed.” (“Somebody Needs to Tell Betsy DeVos: The Struggle Against Denying Black People Education Wasn’t a Fight for School Choice”)

One of the HBCU officials at the meeting with DeVos and Trump was Howard University president Wayne Frederick. Howard is one of the top HBCUs in the country. Frederick’s shameful face-to-face with DeVos and Trump was met with protest by many Howard students. Sharp graffiti appeared on campus saying things like “Welcome to the Trump plantation. Overseer: Wayne A.I. Frederick” and “Wayne Frederick doesn’t care about black people.” And on March 2, student protesters righteously disrupted a campus event marking the 150th anniversary of Howard. (“Howard Students Protest After Black Colleges Meet with Trump”)

The Howard protesters said they got support—in the form of tweets, student organizations reaching out, and exchanges on group messaging apps—from students at other prominent Black schools Spelman, Morehouse, Hampton, and North Carolina A&T as well as others. A sophomore at Morehouse College told Fader magazine about the HBCU presidents get-together with Trump, “There is nothing Donald Trump can do that’ll benefit Black and brown folk because his ideologies don’t include us... What disappoints me is that so many of them [HBCU presidents] went with real expectations of a fascist doing something good for Black folk.”

The escalating fascist attacks on immigrants are also touching off protests among students and professors. In one recent action, professors at the University of Houston Downtown campus took to the streets on February 22 against a bill being pushed by Republican state legislators that targets cities and other local jurisdictions that declare themselves to be sanctuaries and do not cooperate with the hunting down and capturing of undocumented immigrants. If the bill becomes law, campus security will be turned into immigration police. As one professor at the protest said, “We want our students to know that we stand with them, regardless of their immigration status.” (“University of Houston Profs Protest Campus Cops Becoming Anti-Immigrant Enforcers”)

The continuing resistance on the campuses points to the concern and outrage among students and faculty against the fascist Trump/Pence regime and their mounting attacks on the people, coming quickly one after another. There is a real possibility—and urgent necessity—for this resistance to become much broader, deeper, and more determined, as part of society-wide mass resistance.

As the Call to Action from Refuse Fascism says:

...This resistance is righteous and necessary, but it is not sufficient. We must recognize that the character of fascism is that it can absorb separate acts of resistance while continually throwing the opposition off balance by rapidly moving its agenda forward. The Trump/Pence regime will repeatedly launch new highly repressive measures, eventually clamping down on all resistance and remaking the law... IF THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN FROM POWER.


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