BANGKOK—Education International, the global body representing the world’s teachers, voted unanimously Thursday to condemn U.S. President Donald Trump’s racist assault on four women members of the U.S. Congress and pledged to support American unions in their fight to defeat him in 2020.
The urgent resolution, brought to the floor of EI’s 8th World Congress by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, took aim at the dangerous and destructive rhetoric by the U.S. president toward four newly elected female, nonwhite members of Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
By calling on the representatives to “go back to where you came from,” the president once again employed racist, xenophobic and sexist tropes to try to disparage and divide American citizen from American citizen.
Over 1,400 delegates resolved by a show of hands that the attacks represented a dangerous tipping point that undermines democracy and pluralism and must be called out. Educators are at the frontline of the defense of democracy, nurturing students’ rights and freedoms in classrooms and schools—and often have to deal firsthand with the fallout from Trump’s divisiveness.
By telling the congresswomen to “go back,” Trump enshrined his status as a clear and present danger to the ideals of democracy and universal human rights upon which EI was founded.
The resolution—introduced by AFT President Randi Weingarten and seconded by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García—noted Trump’s broadsides served to embolden fellow strongmen, who sow prejudice and hate to wage wars on their own people and to promote, like Trump, a politics of greed that elevates cronyism and corruption over the common good.
The AFT’s Weingarten said: “Donald Trump fires off racist tweets and sickening insults without a second thought. In so doing, he not only tears at the fabric of American democracy, but also foments and legitimizes a cruelty that is heard around the world. Dictators everywhere are given succor by Trump’s rants, and the world’s educators are left to clean up the mess.
“With his latest attack on U.S. congresswomen of color, the very future of democracy is at stake. That’s why unions representing 32 million educators took the lead to condemn him before his virulence further stains the international community. President Trump’s actions and words stand in direct opposition to our shared values of decency, democracy, and human and civil rights. And today, the world’s teachers let him know we won’t stand idly by while our common humanity is trashed.”
Delegates formally resolved to support the work of EI’s U.S. affiliates to ensure the president’s defeat in 2020 as a victory for democracy and a blow against authoritarianism across the globe. They urged his replacement with a pro-public education president who believes in decency, democracy, and human and civil rights.
The NEA’s Eskelsen García said: “American democracy is built on the notion of E Pluribus Unum - from many, one. Our nation’s founders felt so strongly about this that they made it our country’s original motto. So Donald Trump’s tweets targeting Congresswomen of color are not only racist and wrong, but also are an attack on one of the central tenets of our democracy. Trump’s words echo the language of despots and dictators, used to scapegoat and oppress across the globe and throughout history. That is why educators from across the globe are standing together today to condemn Trump. And along with our allies, we will redouble our efforts to replace him in 2020 with someone who will fight for our public schools and democratic ideals — a leader our students and educators can be proud of.”
Delegates further called on the U.S. to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council and use its position to stop oppressive regimes, rather than give them greater license.
EI General Secretary David Edwards said: “We cannot stand by and watch as democracy is torn down one divisive tweet at a time. The Education International Congress made it clear that educators from around the world are not only aware of the threat that Trump and his rhetoric pose to democracy, but we are ready to act and support our American colleagues in their fight against authoritarianism, racism, sexism and prejudice of any kind. We are taking the lead to ensure that the world does not regress into division and intolerance, but moves forward toward respect and equity for all.”