My thoughts on the value and importance of a #UStravelboycott protest
I decided to boycott travel to the US on inauguration day (https://twitter.com/joshdneufeld/status/822653043187580929) because I wanted to ensure that my protest was not linked to any one behaviour, policy position, or executive order of Donald Trump. I did not boycott travel prior to inauguration day because I had been hopeful that conflicts of interest, or lies, or lawsuits, would have prevented a Trump presidency. Unfortunately, his inauguration day speech confirmed to me that his values and policy positions, and views on several aspects of human rights, were profoundly opposed to my own. If this were an organization with a CEO holding similar conflicts of interest, opinions, and values, I would boycott that organization immediately and would not step foot through their door, even if most employees disagreed with the CEO.
Now, with a refugee and Muslim country citizen ban in place, there is no question in my mind that the appropriate and necessary response for global citizens is to stand in solidarity with those whose travel freedoms have been revoked. In good conscious, how can we exercise the very same travel freedoms that have been revoked from countless innocent individuals, our equals, from around the world?
Yes, there will be consequences to my scientific career, and to scientists in the United States, but this boycott is about much more than science. For me, any costs to science pale in comparison to the ethical importance of protesting as a global citizen by withdrawing all appearance of endorsement and consent from a Trump presidency through travel to the United States. The goal is to ensure change in four years by providing additional evidence that a Donald Trump presidency has immediate international repercussions. Business as usual is not an option. I cannot contribute to normalizing his presidency by personal or professional travel to the United States.
Although initial criticism on Twitter indicated that a travel boycott by a scientist does not help science, and stressed the need to be consistent in boycotting travel to other countries with dictatorial leadership as well, the criticism has largely ceased and has been replaced by emails expressing support for this decision, even from scientists in the United States. Friday’s travel ban, although consistent with Trump's pre-election commitments, seems to have helped many reach a decision that avoiding travel to the United States is a valuable form of protest, complementing many other widespread and diverse expressions of global opposition.