Love is stronger than hate.
From my peaceful and COVID-free perch in Hanoi, I’ve been thinking a lot about my colleagues in the US who have devoted their careers to working with international students, including many from Viet Nam. Like many fellow citizens, their current stress levels are stratospheric because they live in a society in crisis in which the current administration, led by a malignant narcissist, is incompetent, uncaring, and often cruel.
There are currently nearly 3.5 million COVID-19 infections, over 1% of the entire population, with 65,488 new cases and 465 new deaths reported yesterday. The total number of deaths is 138,247.) The Monday after the 4th of July holiday weekend, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), sent out an announcement that disallows completely online coursework for the fall semester, signalling an abrupt end to the COVID-19 accommodation for international students and host institutions. The message is loud and clear: #YouAreNotWelcomeHere and #GoBackToYourCountry.
Not only does the current administration not support the important, life-changing work that US higher education colleagues do, it is doing absolutely everything in its considerable power to destroy it and turn back the hands of time. While active support would be ideal, benign neglect or indifference would be preferable to the current dismal state of affairs.
As I mention in a forthcoming article,
Many US Americans, including the friends and colleagues I work, with are kind, caring, compassionate, open-minded, and not prisoners of a nationalist ideology whose adherents believe – come hell or high water – that the US is “the greatest nation on Earth.” These are the people who give me hope. They know, based on education, work, travel, and intuition that every country has greatness, past and present, along with strengths and shortcomings.
This goodness is one of the reasons why I remained committed to helping young Vietnamese who wish to study in the US. I know that they and other international students will be welcomed, taken good care of, and be afforded unique opportunities that will serve them well in their personal and professional lives.
The struggle against the banal evil of Trumpism is one of the defining events of this era. I am gratified and encouraged to see so many colleagues, institutions, and states doing everything in their power to reverse the outrageous ICE decision, including legal action. Fight back, we must, with every means at our disposal, including words and actions. The US political system is down but not yet out.
What’s next, questioning the tax-exempt status of US colleges and universities, he asks knowingly?
The day of reckoning, which can’t come too soon for anyone who cares about what’s happening in and to the US and its citizens and foreign visitors, is 3 November, when the faux president and malignant narcissist-in-chief will be held to account and sent packing, along with his high-level enablers and sycophants and his family from hell. Learn. Their. Names. Remember their actions. And never, ever trust them again.
Postscript: Let the following public servants know what you think.
Matthew T. Albence, Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security: firstname.lastname@example.org (A career civil servant who is in this position because he is perceived as being “tough.”)
Rachel E. Canty, Director, Student and Exchange Visitor Program, ICE: Rachel.E.Canty@ice.dhs.gov (A career civil servant.)
Stephen Miller, Senior Policy Adviser to the President (and Resident White Nationalist in the White House): email@example.com (A political appointee.)
Shalom (שלום), MAA