According to Merriam-Webster, “anathema” was the highest trending word on their website on Jan. 30.
The word, which means “something or someone intensely disliked,” gained popularity after The Orthodox Union used it in a statement that condemned President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims from seven countries. Philosophy professor Paul Woodruff said the historical context of the word is fitting for today’s political climate.
“‘Anathema’ used to mean excommunication and out of bounds,” Woodruff said. “What President Trump did is out of bounds.”
As a Vietnam War veteran, Woodruff said the executive order is neither ethical nor productive in healing the country’s divide.
“I am proud that the U.S. accepted millions of Vietnamese refugees who helped an American cause,” Woodruff said. “People in Iraq and Syria are also endangered by our policies, we owe them protection and a chance to live.”
Witnessing the support students have given to refugees, Woodruff said the youth at UT continue to be an inspiring population.
“I am pleased to say that young people have views that I respect,” Woodruff said. “I don’t blame Trump, I blame cowardice, and young people are not afraid to do the right thing.”
Menhal Sheikh, events coordinator for Humanity First Texas, said the organization on campus goes to food banks or nursing homes but may start assisting the Austin refugee community in the next month.
With her cousin studying in the U.S. after moving from Pakistan, Sheikh said why the travel ban is personal to her.
“Now that Pakistan might be added to the list of banned countries, my family and I are worried about if he will be able to finish his education in the U.S.,” Sheikh said.
In contrast to the pessimism that Sheikh expressed, undeclared freshman Fahad Khan said he remains untroubled about the future.
“I am Muslim and I feel safe,” Khan said. “Because UT has been a great sanctuary to students of all religions, I don’t think I will be directly influenced by President Trump’s action.”
Despite this, Khan said he rejects all aggressive and insensitive rhetoric on campus.
“I don’t always agree with Trump,” Khan said. “However, we should still respect him as a figure of authority and establish a safe, open community for all Longhorns.”