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An Open Letter to Senator Mike Braun on His Visit to Wabash College

September 1, 2019


Senator Mike Braun

115 N Pennsylvania St.

Suite 100

Indianapolis, IN 46204


 Dear Senator Braun:

 We write to explain to you why we cannot, in good conscience, attend your talk at Wabash College on September 3, 2019. Our absence is an act of protest. Your presence is a reminder of all that you’ve failed to do to shame, slow, or even stop this President—and the leader of your political party—from further damaging our republic. 

 We speak of his detention practices at the border, which you’ve failed to denounce; his climate denialism, which you’ve insufficiently addressed; and his authoritarian tweets, made—at least in part—for your benefit. On August 30, 2018, on the eve of a campaign rally for you in Evansville, Indiana, he called the press the “Enemy of the People”; you said nothing. We speak of his border wall (you support it) and his abuse of the National Emergencies Act to build it (again, you approve).

 His use of that act, as many from across the political spectrum noted, undermines your own Congressional “power of the purse,” as established in the Constitution and kept sacrosanct for 250 years. George Will calls the current GOP a “cult surrounding the particular personality of the 45th President.” Will is a lifelong conservative; you, sir, perpetuate that cult.

 It is this President’s overt racism, however, that we take greatest issue with, and we are deeply disappointed, as your constituents, that you defend (or ignore) this particular scourge. “I don’t think he’s got a racist bone in his body,” you said of this President as recently as July 17, 2019. As a Wabash alum and a Wabash gentleman, surely you know better.

 This President began his political career by accusing Barack Obama of not being a U.S. citizen. This is an old, racist trope: African-Americans are somehow “other,” not “American,” or not “us.” This President referred to the Klansmen and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “some very fine people” and countries with majority black populations as “shitholes.” The Justice Department sued him in 1973 for refusing to rent to black tenants. He has evoked a common racist trope: “I think laziness is a trait in blacks.”  

 The list goes on—see The New York Times’s “The Definitive List”—and extends to Mexican-Americans, Muslims, and Native peoples. He has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. The former Speaker of the House, and a noted Republican, Paul Ryan, said of one of his attacks: it is “a textbook definition of racist comment.” Though we might forgive any single comment as a mistake or misspeaking, together they point to one thing: Donald Trump is a racist.

 Wabash College is an institution that we all respect very much. It is your alma mater. It is our employer and home. Wabash teaches its students that an “understanding and appreciation of other cultures” is essential to their education. It advocates “competition without malice.” These are written into our Mission Statement. But this President devalues other cultures. He practices malice without competition. He is the antithesis of the Gentleman’s Rule. We call on you, as a Wabash gentleman, to rebuke his racist tendencies. We hope to hear that you did so on September 3. 

 Very respectfully yours,


Derek Mong

Byron K. Trippet Assistant Professor of English, Wabash College


Anne O. Fisher

Visiting Assistant Professor of German, Wabash College

Senior Lecturer, Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

 Dan Rogers

Professor of Spanish, Wabash College

Jill Rogers

Pre-Health Advisor, Wabash College

Jennifer Abbott

Professor of Rhetoric, Wabash College

Michael S. Abbott

Professor of Theater, Wabash College

Joseph W. Day

Professor of Classics Emeritus, Wabash College

Crystal Benedicks

Associate Professor of English, Department Chair, Wabash College

Jim Cherry

Associate Professor of Theater, Faculty Marshal, Department Chair, Wabash College

Rick Warner

Associate Professor of History, Jane and Frederic Hadley Chair in History, Department Chair, Wabash College

Eric Olofson

Associate Professor of Psychology, Wabash College

Gilberto Gómez

Professor of Spanish, Wabash College

Dr. Helen Mundy Hudson

Warren Rosenberg

Professor of English Emeritus, Wabash College

Dr. Marc Hudson

Emeritus Professor of English, Wabash College

Jane Hardy

Associate Professor of Spanish, Department Chair, Wabash College

Ben Cramer

Wabash College alum, Class of 2017

Steve Bazin

Wabash College alum, Class of 2017

Titles and institutional affiliations used for identification purposes only. Names added upon request. 



Derek Mong