On 10 February 2017 the European Mathematical Society [EMS], of which I am a member of the governing Council, published a letter along with 55 other societies entitled, “European science organizations: maintain transparency, open communication and mobility of scholars and scientists.” The letter was not addressed to anyone, and thus rather was rather a statement of policy. A copy of the letter appears here: Letter Critical of Donald Trump. I suggest you read it before continuing.
First, I issue a disclosure. I am an American. I am grateful for my election to the Council by my peers, believing I am the first and only American so to serve. With this confidence placed in me by my peers I strive to serve their interests always ahead of my own.
Please be aware now that no one consulted me about the decision to publish this letter, to which I would have objected. I know not whether other members of the Council were consulted, but the authorization for the letter must have come either from President Pavel Exner of the EMS or its Executive Committee. The normative issue here is that confirmation by the Council to publish this letter should have been sought, if for no other reason than to protect the President and the Executive Committee from repercussions. Now they are coming.
The letter pure and simple is a diatribe against the President of the United States Donald Trump and his administration. It is a thinly veiled attempt to force the United States government to genuflect to the European scientific community, adhere to its concepts of worthy research projects, and to fund them to the full extent of the wishes of this community. Donald Trump is President of the United States, not of the world, nor even the European community of states, however described. As such, he and his administration have no duties to this community other that those specified by American law. These would include treaties as ratified by the Senate, including membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and membership in the United Nations. Nowhere included is a duty to send money to European scientists.
In particular, none of these signatories to the letter has any financial claim for research funding on any American institution, such as the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health. The implication that they do devolves from this arrogant European stance that somehow American taxpayer money must fund their research projects under the guise of academic freedom. Further supercilious posturing includes ad hominem attacks on the United States President for his assumed positions on such subjects as climate change, and on his approach to the related concepts of state security and immigration policy.
I, along with almost all Americans support freedom of speech, and the right of these 56 institutions, including the EMS, to make the statement of their letter. However, let us not forget that to preserve this right, and others we hold dear in our Western democracies, over 117,000 American military personnel sacrificed their lives in Europe in the First World War, and over 185,000 sacrificed their lives in Europe and the Atlantic Theater in the Second World War. Many of these casualties are buried in cemeteries all over Europe.
So, back to the letter. It’s all about the money, isn’t it? How crass, how coarse, how base. But, what more does one expect from this bunch of elite snobs?