By KATIE WILSON
This past Monday, March 6, Citizens in Action hosted an event entitled: “All Politics is Global: SLU students experiences in the Global Context.” Open to students, faculty, and staff, the event was designed to examine the recent U.S. election, as well as political trends worldwide, in a greater global context. The event was held in the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. Set against a backdrop of stickers depicting radical political and social statements, the various students and faculty settled in amidst their artistic compatriots to discuss their renditions of the current political world.
The event showcased the experiences of various students and faculty members abroad. Each presenter had borne witness to their respective nation’s political climate through either international study or while living abroad. Each anecdote given by the presenters thus served as a reminder of emerging trends in politics worldwide. Various nations were examined, including the United Kingdom, Iran, Jordan, France, China, and Kenya.
While a multitude of nations were discussed, presenters often attempted to tie political occurrences abroad with recent events unfolding in the U.S. Mahrou Zhaf, Lecturer for Gender and Sexuality Studies, emphasized the negative effects President Trump’s rhetoric and actions towards Muslims, and Muslim nations, has had for reformists in Iran. The recently implemented “Muslim ban,” coupled with sanctions against the Iranian nation, has allowed hard-liners to profit both politically and financially; reformists are increasingly losing their footing.
As Zhaf pointed out, these recent U.S. policies are thus not only impactful for Muslim-Americans. She stated, “I now have to fight with my own government as well as the United States government.” Zhaf’s statement illustrates a sad truth about recent political developments in the United States. Although the impacts of President Trump’s election on the U.S. have been widely debated, there has been relatively little discussion on the effects his presidency will have on the international community. The election of President Trump has both direct and indirect consequences for nations with whom we have close relations.
The event thus highlighted that while happenings in the United States may seem to be isolated from other global events and trends, they are inherently linked.
For example, Khalid Omar Kitito, Teaching Fellow of Kiswahili, emphasized that while the upcoming elections in Kenya are largely independent from U.S. influence, the U.S. still has a certain level of pull in the nation, as it gives Kenya large amounts of money each year to fight terrorism.
In addition, one of the major themes emphasized by various speakers was the increasing push towards nationalism worldwide. While this is a noticeable trend in the United States, speakers such as Fred Exoo, Professor of Governent, and student Junior Warugongo ’18, stressed that this in not a trend unique to the U.S. Both France and the United Kingdom have demonstrated a propensity for nationalist movements, with politicians and citizens in both nations clamoring for a protectionist stance against outside involvement.
Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June of 2016, also known as Brexit, signified some of the aforementioned trends towards nationalism. The Citizens in Action series began earlier this semester as a response to the current political climate. Sponsored by the Dean’s Office and created by the Patti-McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies, the series has hosted one other event on campus thus far.
The event was positively received and attended by students. In response to the event, Floor Fiers ’19 said “the idea of students, professors, and administrators coming together to share worldviews is important to me. Sharing our thoughts with one another will bring us closer to intercultural understanding, and luckily we have a wonderful spectrum of different backgrounds on our campus to aid in this!”