Trump’s recent executive order only aims to divide

Graphics+by+Olivia+Braito.

Graphics by Olivia Braito.

Ben Borrok, Senior Writer

U.S. President Donald Trump announced an executive order that would tie free speech to federal research grant money at U.S. universities. The decision, released on March 21, comes in response to the recent movement attempting to shed light on the “silencing” of conservative voices on college campuses and social media. After conservative activist Hayden Williams was attacked on the UC Berkeley campus, it set off a firestorm regarding campus restrictions on free speech. Fox News pundits, also known as Trump’s Intelligence Agency, pressed hard into schools who allegedly discriminated against conservative voices. This recent order follows up on the remarks that the President made to a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, promising an executive order requiring universities to support free speech or sacrifice federal grants.

 

Yet, this outrage seems misguided, as conservative speakers continue to appear on campuses and deliver speeches. Most of the talking points remain ignorant, racist, and offensive, but they are still given a platform more often than not. The protests that occur in response to a speaker’s presence are, believe it or not, also protected by freedom of speech and the right to assemble. But there also needs to be a clear separation between conservative speakers and personalities who only exist to provoke and offend. Milo Yiannopoulos became widely famous while spewing horribly racist and xenophobic speech across the country. When schools began to cancel his appearances, it was not to hinder free speech rights; it was to protect vulnerable members of the student body and prevent protests and counter-protests that could result in violence. In addition, by canceling dangerous voices, schools can avoid allowing false narratives to be spread to college students. Free speech does have consequences; you cannot expect to spread hate and get off scot-free. Fake news is more prevalent now than ever before, so by allowing schools to protect students from these narratives, they will be doing their part to stem the tide of conspiracies that are ripping the country apart.

 

From the decision to sign the executive order, it is clear that Trump is not through with sowing division in our nation. As it turns out, free speech is already tied to federal grant money! It is enshrined in our laws and it must make you wonder, what is the point of this additional order? Unsurprisingly, the order follows a long list of actions that Trump has taken to divide the nation for his own benefit. He thrives off of attention, something that is made clear on his Twitter page every single day. By stirring controversy, the story of free speech is suddenly centered on him. When he sits in front of the television for hours a day, which as we all know is what presidents do, he expects Fox News to compliment him on his actions. Considering that the news network services conservatives, it is no surprise that Trump intends on specifically pleasing them over the nation as a whole. Trump fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of the office he currently holds, which is why he has made no attempt to unite the nation or aim for a wider appeal.  

 

Trump never actually thought he was going to be president, but he, and many of you, talked him into doing so and now look where we are: arguing over the declaration of something that is already the law of the land. Both parties support free speech, but by specifically mentioning conservative activists and omitting the obstacles that liberal speakers have faced, Trump has ignited a firestorm that only sidetracks both himself and the nation from addressing more pressing matters. The damage done from to political discourse over the past few years may never resolve. We are seemingly being pushed to the brink of an ideological civil war.

 

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