Dear AnthroVice: I recently had a conversation with a PhD student (who is in an anthropology department) who, to my surprise, suggested that he had some strong feelings of support for the Trump agenda, even now. After my head exploded and I stopped throwing things, I got to thinking there might be a better way to handle this. Any suggestions?
Are you melting under the heat of a thousand conservative talking heads? Are the chilly walls of the ivory tower insufficient to protect you from the angry hordes that seethe outside the gates of your illustrious institution? Are you so confirmed in your own virtue that you are incapable of recognizing the limitations of the left’s political agenda?
Snowflake, darling, let’s be real. Liberalism has its problems. It demands self-abnegation, self-denial, radical alliance with people who may not be radically allied with you, and an uncomfortable realism about history and the present that makes everything from speech to sex difficult and uncomfortable. There are many reasons to stake out an alternative position.
I gently advise that you get a grip. Is there really nothing about the PhD student that warrants engagement? Are you complicit in advancing a Gramsci-esque hegemonic ideology that represses alternative narratives?
You have a professional responsibility to engage, cultivate, and support the graduate student in your department through his coursework, research, and graduation. Take a tip from fieldwork in this regard: How would you deal with profound moral and ideological conflicts in the field? Would you snub the polygamist next door, and refuse to have your laundry washed by his third wife? Would you betray the confidences of a corrupt bureaucrat who is a key informant? Would you turn up your nose at an offering of an unwanted gift offered in the ritual exchange that precedes the exchange of confidences? I daresay you would not. I would not. I would make friends. And I was the world’s worst field researcher.
In AnthroVice’s humble opinion (which does not reflect the position of the American Anthropological Association or its constituent groups), Trump is woman-hating, environment-destroying, anti-family, anti-immigrant, anti-poor, anti-minority, anti-education, and corrupt. But he’s the president of the United States. So, take a good hard look at yourself, and ask yourself if you truly believe in democracy, freedom of expression, and multiculturalism, or if your political views are democratic pretensions.
Cite as: AnthroVice. 2018. “TrumPhD.” Anthropology News website, March 12, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.798