Letter to the Editor: Professors address student backlash

Published: November 16, 2016

Dear Editor,

Students upset by our letter, please carefully re-read our letter.

The statement that “many Trump supporters are racist” is true, but that is only the first part of the sentence. (You are aware that the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups enthusiastically supported him, and hopefully we all can agree white supremacists are racist). Read the whole sentence, and note that even if “all racists voted for Trump” were true, that would not equal “all Trump voters are racist.”

We would be surprised if more than a very few Scranton students are overtly racist. We have found almost all of the students here to be kind and polite, and very careful to avoid any overt racism.

However, it is undeniable that for Trump voters, racism, sexism, religious discrimination, policies to help the poor, policies to help the environment, etc., are not primary concerns. People have stated, with their votes, that they don’t care about these things as much as they do about (insert issue). As we’ve seen it put elsewhere, for Trump voters, racism “isn’t a deal-breaker,” This position is a by-product of privilege.

Non-white people, Muslims and many others awoke on Wednesday morning to discover that about half the country had voted for a person who routinely insulted them and promised xenophobic policies. Voting this way speaks much louder than any politeness. Denials add insult to injury.

Yes, we should figure out how to heal the country and move on together, and Trump voters who are not overt racists will be part of the solution. But moving on in any genuine way will be very difficult without acknowledging the truth.

Declan Mulhall

Christie Pugh Karpiak


Collections of information (with links & references) about the racism of the Trump campaign, including summaries of some surveys of supporters:



Academic articles you can access full text on campus through google scholar & the library on Trump voters and right-wing authoritarianism, racial resentment, etc:

Joseph Lowndes (2016). White Populism and the Transformation of the Silent Majority, The Forum 2016; 14(1): 25–37. DOI 10.1515/for-2016-0004

Sides, J., Tesler, M., & Vavreck, L. (2016). The Electoral Landscape of 2016, ANNALS, AAPSS, 667, September 2016

Major, B., Blodorn, A., & Blascovich, G. M. (2016). The threat of increasing diversity: Why many White Americans support Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 1–10

Choma, B.L., & Hanoch, Y. (2016). Cognitive ability and authoritarianism: Understanding support for Trump and Clinton, Personality and Individual Differences.

Relevant surveys and articles in popular sources:

American National Election Studies survey

Several Pew surveys

Tesler, Michael, and John Sides. 2016. “How Political Science Helps Explain the Rise of Trump: The Role of White Identity and Grievances.” Washington Post

A recent study about sexism, reported in a popular source:


One Response to Letter to the Editor: Professors address student backlash

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