As Der Donald-inspired Hate Crimes grow, US Universities at Risk

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

A tsunami of reports about hate crimes directed at minorities are coming in from all over the country in the wake of Der Donald’s presidential win. African-Americans have also been targeted, as with students at the University of Pennsylvania. As have Latinas/ Latinos.



In Wisconsin, a Saudi student was recently beaten to death.

There are about 1 million international students studying in American universities– nearly 5% of the country’s undergraduate population. Very large numbers of them are on government scholarships or are from wealthy families in their home countries, and the bulk of them pay full tuition. But they also rent apartments and go out to eat, and shop. These international students bring in $30 billion a year to the US economy.

At the University of Washington, the 18% of the student body who are international are the ones who pay so much in tuition (3 times the in-state rate) that they support the 25% of mainly American undergraduates who are given full tuition scholarship by the university.

Let me repeat that. One of the few ways American undergraduates at our universities are avoiding crushing debt is by getting scholarships, and in some universities it is the tuition paid by international students that generates the money the university then gives out.

Some 80% of my university’s operating budget comes from tuition, since ALEC-like lobbyists have convinced the state to cut its support of higher education to a minimum. There are virtually no real state universities any more. Many of the wonderful scientific inventions created at universities are made possible in part by the tuition paid by international students.

It isn’t only veiled Muslim women who are afraid. Racial bigotry is indiscriminate. Sikhs have been attacked, and any person of color could be, in this atmosphere.

Creating a negative atmosphere for Muslims, African-Americans and Latinos in our country is a good way to hand ourselves an extra $30 billion bill for higher education. It is our traditions of openness and relative tolerance that have allowed us to reap this benefit, and it is often the children of the white working class who most benefit from it.

Some of these students end up staying after graduation, becoming scientists, physicians or entrepreneurs and contributing further billions to the US economy.

A significant percentage of our physicians is Muslim, and immigrant physicians are the ones most likely to service more rural areas. Likewise our math teachers are often immigrants.

Those international students who go back to their home countries can become lifetime ambassadors for their American experience, helping create a positive view of our country abroad.

But the young woman, and for all I know she was my student at some point, who was threatened with death in our town, may never return to graduate and won’t be able to report a positive experience of the US back home.

We should all be ashamed that these incidents happened in our country, and Der Donald most of all should be ashamed of himself, for not condemning this or any of the other hate crimes his inflammatory and vicious speeches have provoked.

*an inaccurate report was deleted.

23 Responses

  1. Sadly similar here in the UK after Brexit. Racist attacks, though not on campuses as far as I know, and a major threat to our higher education system, both from European academics leaving and overseas students going elsewhere (though possibly not to the US now). As for that extra $30 billion – you won’t get it; they’ll just let the education sector shrink. If Trump had a favourite album, it would probably be “The Wall”, with its hit song announcing, “We don’t need no education …”

    • Wrong. It’s about class not race & international students. The grads & undergrads I work with (because they have $200,000-300,000 in debt) – are not part of this elete scholarship program.

  2. Unfortunately these rational words and explanations are not what the perpetrators of these atrocities want to hear, or will bother to read or even care about.

  3. trump supporters – why the uptick in hate crimes now? You won, act like it. Oh but this is all about economic inequality?

    No, this is about prioritizing your concerns based on what affects you. You aren’t a minority so you don’t care and his foul comments did not affect you – it was easier to disregard them.

    It is rare for a voter to agree with everything a politician says, but bigotry should be a red flag. I had a very hard time even voting for Clinton, what with the DNC’s emphasis on Bernie’s Judaism, her campaign’a emphasis on mentioning Obama as Barack HUSSEIN Obama through volunteer phone calls in 2008 (yes, it happened and I saw it firsthand) and her sticking by Bill after his disgusting shenanigans. But all of those things were not said or done by her personally, so I could somewhat look past them for the general good of our country. As for the trump bigotry, tell me how you ever look past it, unless you either agree or just don’t care at all, and I don’t know which is worse.

    I feel for any victim of hate crime, but especially the children and pregnant women who are targets and cannot defend themselves. Pray for US. Pray for U.S.

  4. We had the same problem over here in the UK for a while but its died down a bit now. However, Brexit as we call it was only another excuse for thugs and louts to attack foreigners. When the various incidents involving so called Muslim attacks like the London and Paris bombing etc happened, there were just as many attacks on people of dark skin and on people who had a religious affiliation. There is often a latent hostility towards people who seem “different” in most countries and being ‘white Caucasian’ is no protection if for some reason you are being singled out for attention. Unfortunately the press and media have a way of exacerbating this tendency. In the UK the main plank of the Brexit campaign was “keeping out foreigners” and it worked. I wonder if it would have worked if we had full employment and been a more prosperous people as a whole. When jobs, housing food and other means of living are in short supply, people look for someone to blame. At the present time in America, England and Europe, foreigners are being blamed and they don’t have to be dark skinned either. The Polish worker in the UK are starting to come in for some ‘foreigner bashing’ as well. The election of Trump is the excuse for all this mayhem and not the symptom. The wastelands of Detroit etc is where we should be looking to see where its all gone wrong.

  5. But they take up seats that might otherwise go to Michigan kids. The legal and moral issues around assaults on foreign students are clear. The economic issues are not.

    • The student body was expanded over the past 30 years from 36,000 to 42,000, so the international students are extra and being brought in because they pay 2.5 times full tuition. Michigan students are not being disadvantaged.

      • BTW, Dr. Cole, the only member of my family who will be competing for a seat at UM agrees with you 100 per cent.

      • “…….Michigan students are not being disadvantaged.”

        I would disagree.

        They are disadvantaged in several ways.

        The vast majority of students paying higher tuition at University of Michigan is due to the fact they are from the U.S. – but reside out of state.

        The large number of both out-of-state applicants and international student applicants create an applicant pool that is more competitive and deprives Michigan residents from a fair percentage of admissions openings.

        Ron Weiser, former Michigan Republican Party chairman and an Ann Arbor resident, was recently elected to the U-M Board of Regents. This issue was a major campaign topic.

        As a practical matter, it is so extremely competitive to be admitted to University of Michigan that the only way for a typical college-bound student to qualify for admission academically is to seek admission to the U-M campus at either Dearborn or Flint – the Ann Arbor campus is as difficult to be admitted to as an Ivy League school.

        • Places for Michigan students at the University of Michigan are the same now as they were thirty years ago. It is not more competitive than it was then. That the student body is bigger and includes more out-of-staters, including international students, helps Michigan students in two ways. First, they pay more and subsidize the Michigan students. Second, they widen our horizons.

          In an ideal world, Michigan would have several campuses of the quality of U-Mich Ann Arbor, and tuition would be low because the state would support the university at greater than 7% of its operating budget. The University of Michigan is no longer a state university because the state doesn’t back it in the way one would a state university. Michigan is 48th out of 50 in its support for higher education. That’s on the legislators in Lansing.

          The University of Michigan has made Washtenaw county a high tech corridor that is one of the few bright spots in the state economically. We need more eds and meds, which is how Pittsburg and other Midwest cities turned around, and it won’t happen without state support.

    • The fundamental economic issues really are what’s at stake with this election, and that ultimately becomes a matter of values and whether the vision for the contribution of a school like Michigan can even be recognized.

      R1 schools have to balance books by becoming R&D outsources, with profs chasing grant dollars to pay their own way. That’s making them ‘prove their worth like a business’. A far more difficult proposition if you’re a history prof, I’d imagine, than for a cousin in zoology who gets those big fat easy DARPA dollars for research into animal hibernation that might (somehow?) be applied to stabilize bleeding wounds in battle, for example.

      So, foreign students are a profit center, along with profs/administrators with rain-making and grant-development skills. If you’re interviewing a prospective asst with those skills, who needs to vet their research or teaching? Without THOSE dollars coming in the school has to become more ‘market sensitive’ in other ways, perhaps competing with the more purely vocational schools for the those who see universities as just a place to learn a trade. And they’re not wrong: think of those big new business and engineering buildings.

      One always serves ones constituency. When there’s an elite with a balanced view things work out for everyone far better. With the values of a neoliberal plutocracy you’re asking problems; going to the other extreme doesn’t improve things. This business of representative democracy really needs to be rethought.

  6. Get used to it. This is the new normal.

    Meanwhile, some morons unfurled the good ol’ Confederate flag during a Veterans Day parade in Petaluma yesterday. Also, that predictable paragon of Christian decency, David Duke, hailed Drumpf’s victory as a kick in the teeth to the Jews and an opportunity to teach them a lesson – as only a good little goose stepper would.

    These are only coming attractions. Hope I’m wrong but I think it’s going to be open season for the racist lunatics to come out of the woodwork.

  7. As of Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center had 201 such “incidents” reported, per an article in their Hatewatch section… I wonder how many were not reported to them… The minister at church this a.m. recounted a nasty little bit of harrassment reported by a friend–a professor in St. Paul whose student was scared out of a coffee shop. As part of the church service, you could come up front & pick up a safety pin–a growing symbol of showing you’re a person who will stand up for someone suffering the newly rampant harrassment of minorities now under threat…Very dark times, with tons of work ahead of us..

  8. interesting t hought with 800 us military bases outside the united states …..the usa has been a long-term guest, then we have hawaii, puerto rico, cuba, guam, for awhile south korea, south vietnam, and on and on. where ever it is in the interests of the united states they overstay their welcome. we in europe would certainly more than ever prefer that america mind its own business. america tried every trick to drag other countries into their middle east fiasco, remember freedom fries because france would not join in. the picture of america as a kind of invader and certainly agressive has been growing and growing. i actually remember meeting a 18 yrs. old. just enlisted fellow on the train to san francisco who very earnestly told me he was off to iraq to help the people not to fight. Yes America lives a great deal of the time in a never never land, time to grow up but not with trump.

  9. The right hates universities anyway. If they lose an important source of revenue and diversity, the right will consider it a feature, not a bug.

  10. I always find myself acting as a small ambassador defending and even promoting US against all kinds of accusations real or imagined whenever I travel on business trips to part of the where I was born and others. . Not anymore. America has elected a person in whose name I cannot stand as a character witness. The world saw and heard what Trump said and did. He is his own character witness. After 911, international students admissions dropped and others countries including Australia started promoting their learning institutions as destinations for higher learning for international students. I expect the same to happen again. You can get a good undergraduate education in many other countries.

  11. The prevalent U.S. NATIONAL STUPIDITY, endemic H8 and blind self-interests have elected an unqualified, spoiled, egomaniacal, RACIST TV personality to be our President.

    We are now seeing the full effect of the “Dumbing Down of America” – an America where H8 has become institutionalized, a President who ran on H8, was elected on H8 and has opened a pandoras box unleashing what is destructive, counterproductive and dangerous to the very stability of our country.

    Trump and his followers are a far greater danger to the citizens of these United States, than ISIS and al Qaeda combined.

  12. This meme of wearing a safety pin to show solidarity with the oppressed is brilliant, and I hope it spreads.

    With the appointment of the alt-right leader Bannon as one of Trump’s top advisors, it’s clear that Trump has negated any feeble call on the Red Hats to “stop it.”

    I shudder at the thought of what will happen after the next domestic terror incident, especially if it occurs on one of our college campuses.

    But what is even more dangerous and alarming is this ongoing normalization process that we’re witnessing from within the MSM and political establishment. Even Sanders and Warren have made conciliatory statements about the possibility of actually working with this monster.

    Contrast this with how the Republicans responded immediately after Obama’s election with vows to, at the very least, cripple his Presidency, which they effectively did.

    I hesitate to make comparisons to fascism, but this normalization process is what is required for a totalitarian force to maintain its power.

    It’s got to stop. This regime needs to be resisted, exposed, shamed and finally ignored. Trump needs to be shouted down at every opportunity, and it’s got to be the Democrats, at least the progressive wing, that needs to lead this effort, or else they will be marginalized for a generation.

    It’s amazing how only weeks ago the elites were lamenting the destruction of the GOP, and asking how it could possibly recover from this debacle…

    (NOTE: If you’re looking for a silver lining, the rejection of Obamacare by the Red Hats is an unwitting rejection of neoliberal economic policy. Recall that the ACA was concocted by the Heritage Foundation, and embraced by Romney in Mass.. So that’s a bit of a positive, I guess.)


  13. Respectfully, sir, isn’t it hasty to start correlating these incidents to Trump’s election and using them as evidence of impending “tsunami of hate crimes” ? Furthermore, I find the line between act of protest and act of support to be blurry in some of the examples cited in the article (link to I’m not trying to diminish the gravity of the incidents, but my concern is that prematurely sounding the doomsday whistle could have bad consequences. I might be wrong.

  14. Another old vet and I discussed our “American” upbringing and how we believed in it all much as the Trump supporters. Our military experiences shattered us both. Him, body and mind and me just the mind. We do see a “tsunami of hate crimes”. All one had to do was listen to the vile mouth/beliefs of Trump to know it was coming. An important figure giving permission (not overtly) to have at boys and girls. He and I both grew up with the “all will be well” mantra. We learned, the hard way, all was not well. We have seen all was not well for decades. Both hoped we would die first but it is not to be. Both of us have a knot of fear in our guts. Both of us will retreat even further from a society we feel even less safe in.

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