Federal Funds Should not be About Obedience


Gerald Maib

By The Easterner Editorial Board

There is no question that President Trump has made some questionable decisions as of late– travel bans, healthcare repeals, building a wall, constantly pointing the finger at the media, threatening to take away funding from schools, and let’s not even talk about the appointment of Besty DeVos.

All of this calls into question not only Trump’s leadership style, but also his sanity, if we’re being honest.

While there is some apparent logical reasoning behind some of Trump’s decisions, it almost seems like our new leader desires complete obedience from us. Take his threat to defund UC Berkeley as an example. When protests turned violent, Trump’s reaction to the actions of a few was to punish the entire Berkeley community.

Following the protests, Trump tweeted, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Disregarding the fact that the president can’t really do that, at least not easily, and we doubt for such a petty reason, it appears as though Trump has adopted his own form of Aldrin justice. Well, we have news for you Mr. President, we are not kindergarteners and you cannot just take away our toys every time we misbehave or act in a way that you don’t agree with.

Not only does this interfere with every American citizen’s constitutional right to freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble, it designates the population as troublesome children who need to be taught the meaning of obedience.

Obedience is defined as compliance with an order, request or law or submission to another’s authority, however, according to Drs. Guadong Song, Qinhai Ma, Fangfei Wu and Lin Li, who co-wrote a paper about the psychological explanation of conformity, obedience is defined as “the subject is subordinate to the object for the purpose of seeking rewards or avoiding punishment.”

This seems to be an idea Trump has taken to heart. The idea that a person’s First Amendment rights become null the moment they act in a way that directly defies the way he seems to believe they should is cause for punishment.

If we’ve learned anything from Umbridge, punishing others for having different beliefs never ends well.

While there are some merits to obedience, as without obedience of the law and the social systems we live under, our lives would be complete chaos, but enforcing obedience through punishment isn’t always the best option. For criminals, sure, prosecute them to the appropriate extent of the law, but for a community of students who may not have even been involved in the violence, it makes very little sense to punish every single person.

This is not to say the violence that occurred at Berkeley was right, but there are better ways to handle it than shutting down the school or pulling important funding.

Then there is the whole conflict of punishing the masses for the actions of a few. Trump didn’t threaten to take away funding of just those involved in the U.C. Berkeley protests, he threatened to take away all of the funding from an entire university.

According to the Forbes “America’s Top Colleges” list, Trump’s threat to pull funding would leave 37,565 students out of school. According to CNN, only 150 protesters were involved in the violent protest, and not all of them were students. So Trump’s idea to cull the violence is to punish everyone affiliated with the university?

Sure, that makes sense.