Eric M. Velander
Velander is a Junior at UNO studying communications and english.
I will be transparent: I am beyond excited for the next eight years under Donald J. Trump and his basket of deplorable.
I will continue my transparency: It was with great trepidation that I typed that declarative sentence. For me, as a citizen and veteran, this intimidation, real or imagined, rings far more problematic than some of the alleged “backward” policies being kicked around on The Hill and in the White House—an amendment to the constitution for example.
I am relatively new to academia, and even newer at branding myself an outspoken centrist and certified conspiracy nut—the truth is out there. Having only been here for two years, I will ask: Has it always been acceptable for faculty and students to “joke,” casually, about the stabbing-death of GOP voters or presidents in the midst of a lesson? What has happened to civil discourse on our campus? Was it ever even here? Has it always been acceptable to minimize and belittle centrist or conservative students with phrases such as “failing grade,” “uneducated white male,” or the kiss of death, “racist xenophobe?”
Note: No, Administrators, I will not name names or even departments, but I assure you these things have happened in front of my eyes in the past 24 months.
Studying journalism kick-started my journey of questioning the academic institution I love, alongside the equally influential journalistic institutions. I was taught to check my sources and check them again. I was taught to be sure, be brief and be objective. I was taught to let the reader decide. I was taught how to influence perception with word choice and timing.
Then I was assured there was a moral high ground when voting left of center, this message propagated with an intimate understanding of Kairos to an ignorant audience—and the illusion dissolved. #FakeNews? #FakeEducation? Was I being played? Indoctrinated?
I don’t have a fix for this type of behavior beyond conscious, free thought. Ideology tests are Orwellian, safe spaces limit speech and I am a free market kind of man. Let the ones who want to teach and learn here do so, unencumbered. However, I have a place here—a voice—we all do.
I believe that every single action we commit, we do with intention, and by direct extension, is political in nature. We study rhetoric, business, biology, we vote and speak and write. So what does that say about Mavericks when these insidious intimidations go unchallenged? What does it say about Mavericks that we allow half of our community to be silenced, belittled, and even threatened on our campus?
To be hypercritical, it transmits the same signal that forced me to quit a certain federal three-letter-agency. It reeks of status quo partisan politics, undermining of free speech, and thought-control, making MKUltra [sic] and Bent Penny look like a practice round in scale and strategy. It communicates the fact that academia has far less academic merit than I want to believe to be true, Lenin salivates in his grave.
Do not misunderstand, I never intended to insult our esteemed faculty and others like them, but instead strive to hold up a filthy mirror to ourselves. To step back and reflect with you upon our society with that mirror, politically and with intention.
Why was Donald J. Trump elected? What does that say about our media? About us? Why do we love or hate him and his voters? Who gave us those ideas? With whom have we discussed those opinions, and did they agree with us? Were we ever challenged in our ideas? Why or why not?
President Donald J. Trump is number 45. There it is. It’s over. It begins.
Now, I challenge the students and faculty of this growing, diverse campus and community to promote critical thought over groupthink and lazy acceptance of someone else’s opinion. I challenge us to promote civil discourse in the name of democracy, in the stead of shunning and hurling of insults and threats toward the “Other.” I challenge us to work for the success of our president.
You elected him, after all. This is your fault.