Most of us were stunned by the results of the US presidential election—including its winner. And since Wednesday morning, the surprises keep coming. Students at a large Texas university were greeted by this and other flyers exhorting them to “go arrest & torture those deviant university leaders spouting off all this Diversity Garbage.”


Texas jihadis. (Apologies to the actual men in the photo, apparently a screenshot from a comedic Youtube series on vigilantes.)

Many of us are wondering how to make sense of what just happened, just how much worse it’s going to get, and how we can possibly make this better. What is American is also European, Asian, African. Ironically, the rising nationalism seems to disregard borders.

The good news is that, when the election’s post-mortem exam is done, we will learn that racism and sexism were almost certainly not the primary drivers of nearly 50% of America’s voting public. As many Trump voters have tried to explain, the real issue is their immediate survival. The US now has generations of people who were trained only for the manufacturing jobs that are gone. A vote for Trump was a Hail Mary pass. “It could have been anyone [coming from outside of politics],” one factory worker and Trump supporter said, “even Captain Kangaroo.” (An apt example, given that an unapologetic Pied Piper was elected.) In this backs-against-the-wall context, a stand against racism and sexism may have seemed a luxury that only the US’s coastal elites can afford. On the list of urgent priorities for the non-elites, daily survival came first. And this survival was to be delivered by a Washington outsider who, at least in a television studio broadcasting a game show called The Apprentice, seemed to possess absolute hiring and firing power.

Yet it’s cold comfort that the majority of Trump voters may have chosen him in spite of, rather than because of, his racist rhetoric and sexist tendencies. Because we know that racism and misogyny ride for free on the backs of desperation and anxiety. And that they grow well in the dry scrub garden of the disenfranchised. Because even if we got here by economic accident, we are now sharing the sandpit with agents of the worst social design. Because it’s already clear that the Pied Piper can’t continue the tune his followers need to hear. The Hail Mary pass will fail. No one and nothing can stand in the way of globalization.

What can we do here? I’m an expatriate bystander whose vote honestly didn’t matter. I can’t solve the problem of disappearing factories, whether they go to Mexico or a microchip. I can’t clean up Washington anymore than a pied piper can. I won’t be able to abolish the Electoral College.

But the Texas jihadis just pointed the way for me. I’m not a university leader, but I do spout off a lot of Diversity Garbage—and ESCMID’s Parity Commission is working hard at documenting the costs of non-diverse systems and developing diagnostic and structural tools to increase their diversity. Whether done in Europe or elsewhere, this work is relevant across nations: populist anger and resentment seem to disregard borders.

If the Texas jihadis have identified Diversity Garbage as a serious threat, then maybe my colleagues and I are onto something. Maybe we in academia shouldn’t feel ineffectual and inadequate in the face of this social, political and environmental disaster. The Texas jihadis—and their many allies to follow—are going after a major prize. But we’re already holding it in our hands.




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  • Anonymous says:


    great article.

  • B. Steve Csaki says:

    Dr. Huttner,

    I’m afraid that where I live (just north of Texas), it seems to me that racism and sexism were, in fact, what drove the vast majority of voters (roughly 70% here in Oklahoma compared to about 55% in Texas) to vote for Trump. Some people will gleefully admit as much while others hide behind their “justified” hatred of “that lying bitch” as the reason that they voted for Trump even though they claim that they didn’t like his comments about women.

    I see Trump’s victory as a combination of sexism against Hilary Clinton – how else to account for the intensity of the hatred towards her? – and racist backlash against eight years of an African American president. As a country we seen to have taken one step forward and then two backwards. Perhaps that is how progress is made in the United States?

    I certainly hope that I am wrong about this and that you are right, or at least more right. Your view offers more hope for the future of our country than does mine.

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