By Carly Taylor
For The Diamondback
The Potomac Center for the Study of Modernity and the Miller Center for Historical Studies teamed up for the first time to organize a discussion about the rise of President-elect Donald Trump.
A panel of five University of Maryland professors addressed more than 100 students and faculty at McKeldin Library on Monday about the factors that may have influenced the success of Trump’s campaign.
History professor Christopher Bonner talked about Trump’s emergence as a divisive figure in politics starting with the comments he made in 2011 promoting the birther conspiracy theory, which doubted President Obama’s citizenship. Bonner cited the American Colonization Society as the root of Trump’s ideology, which encouraged the idea that African-Americans do not have a place in our country.
“The belief that black people don’t belong is a powerful and persistent one that is seen in more subtle ways today,” Bonner said.
Spanish and Portugese professor Ana Patricia Rodriguez spoke about other marginalized groups in America, and how history is taught in the United States from a white American perspective. She suggested the anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican themes that appear so often in literature allow Trump supporters to dismiss racism as a protection of U.S. interest.
The panelists talked to each other about the role fear played in the election, especially among minorities.
History professor Jeffrey Herf told the audience it is important to “not get into a hysterical frame of mind” in the upcoming months and years of Trump’s presidency.
English professor Sangeeta Ray, who moved from India to America in the 1980s, said she is always pulled over by immigration officials when she travels back to the United States. Fear is nothing new for many people in this country, she added.
“There are bodies that will always be visibly affected,” she said.
History professor and interim chair of women’s studies Robyn Muncy said assumptions about female voters contributed to the country’s surprise that 53 percent of women voted for Trump.
“Women are not one thing,” Muncy said. “If we really believed that, we wouldn’t be surprised that they didn’t all vote the same way.”
Other attendees asked questions about the role that fear of terror played in the election.
Herf said the Democratic Party, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton, failed by not addressing radical Islam directly.
“They should have said that we are not Islamophobes or racists but we don’t want to get blown up either,” Herf said.
Doctoral student Grace Yasmura said she wanted hear more discussion about the influence of Islam on the election.
“I wish there was more sustained engagement with the way in which Islamophobia shaped the election,” she said.