With such fierce political focus on US politics in Bristol and in the student body, Epigram reached out to some of the University’s American students to find out their thoughts on Donald Trump himself and the controversial immigration ban that has blocked citizens of seven middle-eastern countries from entering the US.
The ban is known commonly as the ‘Muslim Ban’ on account of the fact that the seven countries banned, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, are Muslim-majority nations. Moreover, the executive order states that some priority would be given to religious minorities in these Muslim-majority nations, with Trump himself specifying Christians in Syria in an interview with CBN News. It has been widely regarded as racist, discriminatory and has since been blocked by the US Federal Court.
Johnny Thalassites, President of the University of Bristol’s Conservative Association, and a dual American-British citizen, said: ‘Donald Trump isn’t a conservative, really.
‘Being an ideologue is not inherently positive, and there’s value in pragmatism, adaptability and a subtle mind. However, Trump does not possess these qualities.
‘His temperament is hugely concerning – with his off the cuff statements exposing bigoted, sexist and racist sentiments. These should be disqualifiers for the presidency, even disregarding his un-knowledge in foreign affairs and worrying links to Russia.’
Bristol was one of many cities to demonstrate on the day of Trump’s inauguration in late January, a move that Thalassites was critical of.
Listen to Johnny discuss Election Night on one of last year’s Epicasts…
‘He won fair and square (Russian hacking, unless linked directly to Trump, doesn’t change that); his mandate is clear and unambiguous. For that reason, some of the protests have been premature,’ he said. ‘Protests on inauguration day essentially protested a result, which is anti-democratic. That isn’t to say Trump won’t provide liberals with cause for protest in the coming years. Even so, Trump is a legitimate – if ignorant – president.’
On the immigration ban itself, he said: ‘Clearly this is not sensible policy. It is divisive and wrong. Trump’s priority is to target Muslims and pardon Christians, which is evidence of racial bias. That should shake decent people – progressive, liberal and conservative – to the core.
‘If you were to script how best to aid ISIS’ recruitment, you’d create a blonde, all-American action man with racist impulses, if not beliefs.
‘Erecting barriers between cultures and races is not conducive to peace. But these outward shows of strength will please and reassure white-working class supporters,’ Thalassites continued.
‘You know, the ones worried about the decline of American exceptionalism. So actually, these policies – divisive as they may be – are and will be popular in the US.
‘Protests won’t change that, and they’ll only entrench his supporters’ positions. That’s the tragedy.’
One American student, who wished to remain anonymous, told Epigram that she felt that one of the biggest problems with the ‘Muslim Ban’ is its hypocrisy.
She said, ‘He is not a Native American – he is also an immigrant of this land. For Trump to dictate who can and can’t enter the country is just…it’s not right.’
Indeed, Donald Trump’s mother is Scottish and his father, Frederick Trump, was the son of German immigrants.
Camille Delaney, a third year English student from California, told Epigram that ‘as people far more intelligent and articulate have said: the ban inevitably makes me acutely ashamed to be American.’
Her sentiment was echoed by third year Sarah Williams, a dual British and American citizen who grew up in Florida before moving to the UK.
‘I’m disgusted that the president of my home country, would ban a group of immigrants from entering a land founded by immigrants,’ she said.
‘But I’m incredibly proud of the people who’ve come together to protest this issue and have achieved a lift on the ban. The American people are standing up and fighting.’
Troy Worden, a University of California, Berkeley student and former Bristol student, organised the infamous Milo Yiannopoulos talk at UC Berkeley on 1st February which was shut down by violent protesters.
Protests escalated at the University of California, Berkley, where the Breitbart editor was due to speak
‘If things go this way for the next four years Trump is guaranteed another four years,’ he wrote on social media after the riot. ‘People of liberal persuasion, police your side.’
The incident actually prompted a tweet from Donald Trump himself, threatening to remove funding from schools such as Berkeley that threatened free speech, in addition to widespread international coverage.
Are you an American student in Bristol? Let us know your thoughts on Trump’s Muslim ban…