11 January 2021
To Whom It May Concern:
The members of the Department of Political Science at Lehigh University formally condemn those who incited or participated in the insurrection against the American government, which took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. We join our colleagues across the country in calling for the immediate removal of Donald Trump and the other elected officials involved in this coup attempt.
Peaceful transitions of power after legally-sanctioned elections are integral to democratic practice. Whereas we acknowledge the importance of civil disobedience in confronting systemic oppression, to be perfectly clear, this was not an act of civil disobedience in the face of oppression; it was sedition, urged on by a dangerous fascist, who is also a White supremacist. Those storming the Capitol intended to overthrow a fair and legal democratic election; their actions were fed by lies and Donald Trump’s disgraceful stoking of violence and fear. The ongoing security threats, both foreign and domestic, resulting from these actions are staggering and cannot be tolerated.
White supremacist insurrectionary violence has a long and troubling history in America. For example, the coup of November 10, 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, overthrew the democratically-elected mixed race Reconstruction era government and remains a part of our national shame. History also demonstrates that citizens are not powerless, however. All Americans who respond to coup attempts through peaceful, nonviolent resistance uphold the principles of democracy and help to secure the freedoms that our particular form of constitutional democracy protects.
In this moment of tremendous unrest, we remember that the work of the university is not separate from the world we inhabit. The discipline of Political Science, in particular, offers significant knowledge about democracy and democratic backsliding. What we study and learn together directly shapes our perspectives. In this moment, we recommit to bringing all our knowledge and resources to illuminate peaceful approaches to conflict resolution and the pursuit of social justice.
We also understand that we, as a community, have experienced a tremendous amount of trauma lately, and the exposure to and consequences of that trauma are not evenly distributed throughout society. As scholars of political science, the faculty in the Department of Political Science at Lehigh stands with those who are targeted by White supremacy and remains committed to learning and facilitating the study and practice of a genuinely inclusive and empowering form of democratic politics. Together, we can transform these experiences of violence and hostility into something positive for ourselves and others.
The members of the Department of Political Science