The AAUP’s leadership issued the following statement on January 8.
Two days ago, while white supremacist, Trump-supporting insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol, we wrote that we were appalled by the assault and noted that the current administration’s actions—over the long term but especially since the election of Joe Biden in November—are directly responsible for the attack on our democracy, for the lawlessness and violence, and for the deaths. Today we reflect on how we got here and how, from our perspective as higher education leaders, we move forward.
Donald Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, but Trump has not been willing to accept that fact. With the help of a toxic brew of right-wing “news” outlets, self-serving allies and enablers, and unregulated social media, lies and misinformation have been repeated and amplified to the point that facts and the truth are barely recognizable. It is neither honest nor truthful to promise a “peaceful transition of power,” as Trump did yesterday, while purposefully failing to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election.
President Donald Trump incited an attack on the seat of our democracy while our elected representatives were inside conducting the people’s business. As we write, the inauguration of Joe Biden is twelve days away. The president does not accept reality, has been (temporarily) suspended from social media, and yet retains access to the nuclear codes. He presents a clear and present danger.
We call for the immediate removal of President Trump from office and fully support all legal efforts to remove him.
An educated citizenry is essential for a well-functioning democracy. The AAUP promotes higher education as a common good precisely because of its power to transform lives and improve society. The misinformation and conspiracy theories that fueled the attack on our Capitol must be met with truth, education, and critical thinking. In this era of social media, it is imperative that we as educators provide students and society with the tools needed to distinguish truth from falsehood. The AAUP will continue to fight against the decades-long disinvestment from public higher education that weakens our democracy.
We would be remiss not to underscore the structural racism so clearly evident in the events surrounding the siege on our Capitol. The comparison between the law enforcement response to peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters in Lafayette Park and to insurrectionists, some armed, who breached police lines and stormed the US Capitol, is not surprising to our colleagues of color and is now unmistakable to everyone except those who willfully refuse to see what’s right in front of them. We join so many others in calling out the obvious racism and in asking the harder question: how are we going to dismantle this system on which our country was built in order to work toward a shared national vision of a more perfect union? At the AAUP, our work on antiracism has just begun.
In the meantime, we call on our elected leaders to take the following steps.
- Remove President Trump from office immediately, before more damage can be done.
- Continue to look into the enormous failure of law enforcement to protect our Capitol, and the disparate police actions towards this week’s insurrectionists and last year’s mostly peaceful racial justice protests.
- Hold to account those responsible for these failures, and enact legislation that reforms law enforcement in this country.
- Hold to account those who enabled, assisted, or supported the president in the ludicrous claims of election fraud which provoked the attack on Congress.
We take comfort in the fact that our institutions of government were strong enough to withstand this attack and that the work of our Congress was delayed only for a few hours. We also note that the strength of our institutions of government depends on the strength of our system of education. With our members and chapters, we will continue to promote higher education as a common good in order to keep our democracy strong. We look forward to working with the new administration on policies that will provide affordable or free access to higher education to anyone willing to do the work to get a degree. Education as a common good, accessible to all, is the tool this nation needs to fight the rise of propaganda and conspiracy theories, and to address systematic inequalities.
Irene Mulvey, AAUP President
Paul Davis, AAUP Vice President
Christopher Sinclair, AAUP Secretary-Treasurer
P.S. You can find the statement on our website here.