Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of bigotry. He called Mexicans rapists, claimed that “Islam hates us,” was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, and has defended racial profiling, among other deeply troubling policies. He campaigned on promises to force Muslims onto a national registry and screen visitors to the United States by faith, both of which would be flagrant violations of the freedom of religion and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.
And of course, we cannot forget his call to “make America great again,” a yearning for a bygone era and a thinly veiled tribute to an age before the Civil Rights Act, before the esteem of white identity was bruised by the small strides toward the empowerment of marginalized people secured therein. This call, and the rest of the rhetoric surrounding it, is an unequivocal appeal to white nationalism.
We as a publication must not commit the error of becoming a platform for white nationalist apologism, let alone white nationalism. So which political pieces, in the age of Trump, do we print?
Last weekend, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on “Face the Nation,” where he laid out a strategy for how to operate in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
“If Mr. Trump in fact has the courage to take on Wall Street, to take on the drug companies, to try to go forward to create a better life for working people we will work with him issue by issue,” he said. “But if his presidency is going to be about discrimination, if it’s going to be about scapegoating immigrants or scapegoating African Americans or Muslims, we will oppose him vigorously.”
We believe that Sanders presents a convincing vision of political discourse, and he inspires the journalistic standard that The Argus will adopt going forward as we cover a Trump presidency.
The results of the election forced us to reflect on the ways we cover news and the types of voices we allow to appear in print. We will start by prioritizing and amplifying historically marginalized voices, in whose silencing The Argus has participated. With the wave of hate crimes that have recently occurred on college campuses, including our own, protecting people of color and those who are members of religious and ethnic minorities is critical.
We reject any false equivalency between the underrepresentation of conservative voices in this paper and those of historically marginalized people. Censorship, like racism, works in one direction: by those with power, against those who lack it. Still, we support the creation of an avenue for serious and earnest criticism from conservative voices. In deciding what content to publish going forward, we plan to adhere to a Sanders-inspired standard that boils down to this maxim: contest ideas, not people.
We will publish articles that focus on the ideological and policy differences that exist on our campus, provided they are not rooted in bigotry. With that being said, we will not publish work that normalizes Donald Trump himself, nor will we hide behind an absurd “objectivity.” We as a paper take responsibility for preventing pieces that represent defenses of, or apologies for, white nationalism.
We welcome vigorous debate concerning the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), taxes, trade, and contentious social issues. As Sanders’ approach articulates, these are the grounds on which we as a community can participate in valuable and productive conversations. On the other hand, content that seeks solely to demean, belittle, and degrade people rather than advance a critique of political decisions or policies is irresponsible, unacceptable, and unpublishable. We will reach out to students, faculty, and alumni who hold a variety of viewpoints and may sharply disagree. We will not publish content that seeks to vilify and mock members of this community or any other.