Alumni of Liberty University have launched a protest of university president Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support for Trump by promising to return their diplomas.
In an interview with NPR, Chris Gaumer, a former student government president, said that Falwell was “complicit” in Trump’s tacit support of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
“I’m sending my diploma back because the president of the United States is defending Nazis and white supremacists. And in defending the president’s comments, Jerry Falwell Jr. is making himself and, it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit.”
Gaumer’s condemnation of Trump comes on the heels of last weekend’s white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when a neo-Nazi plowed his car into a group of counterprotestors. Rather than condemning the hate groups, Trump blamed “both sides,” effectively equating neo-Nazis with the activists who showed up to protest their presence.
Falwell, for his part, attempted to explain his support for the President with this tenuous defense:
“[Gaumer] completely misunderstands my support [for Trump]. My support for the president is his bold and truthful willingness to call terrorist groups by their name. And that’s something we haven’t seen from presidents in recent years.”
Effectively, the president of a university that is supposed to espouse Christian values is willing to disregard any and all affronts to those values – including endorsing literal hate groups – because Trump is capable of saying the phrase “radical Islamic terror.” In other words, Trump could theoretically commit theft or adultery or murder, but because he can otherwise unrelatedly blame Muslims for terror attacks – “and that’s something we haven’t seen from presidents in recent years” – Falwell wouldn’t have a problem. That’s integrity, folks.
Kudos to the alumni for taking a stand. I wouldn’t want that diploma, either.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.