An Open Letter From 1,500+ Fulbrighters Regarding the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
This letter was drafted by the past and current Fulbright grant recipients whose signatures are listed below. Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Benjamin Downs, and Claire Dinh are co-first authors.
We write as beneficiaries of the large-heartedness of the United States, and the ideal of open-mindedness on which the Fulbright Program was founded in 1946. Its mission is “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.”
We are citizens of 95 countries and are of different ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, genders, political affiliations, and beliefs. We have all had the privilege of living outside of our home countries over these seventy years, learning from and living with those who sometimes do not share much with us except the desire to live in a just, open, peaceful, and tolerant world.
We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.
We believe that the problems of the world can be solved with open and productive dialogue rather than demagoguery, but what we have seen so far has given us cause for alarm. We state our respect for the dignity of people of all races, faiths, creeds, classes, abilities, ancestries, gender identities, and sexual orientations. We have seen the tragic results of the politics of discrimination in many parts of the world, including in our home countries, and we stand against it strongly. We reject violence in all forms, including hateful rhetoric and actions against those with whom we disagree.
We support the Fulbright Program’s aims “to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.” If the president-elect’s stated promise to cancel J-1 visa programs is successful, the future of the Fulbright Program and related programs will be jeopardized.
We stand for the tradition of tolerance, free expression, and inclusivity that has made the United States a beacon of hope around the world. It has given people like us a chance to contribute to the United States, our home countries, and the countries we have visited, in modest and significant ways through the Fulbright Program. While we believe that these ideals could triumph through the strength of individual values shared by tenacious people with goodwill and decency, we remain deeply disturbed by the prospect of a more insular, hostile, and nativist nation.
We look forward to continuing to be — in every corner of the world — partners in a continuing dialogue for peace, inclusiveness, and justice for all.
[You can find all the 1500+ signatories, their designations, Fulbright year, and host universities on Huffington Post, where this letter was first published a few hours ago.]