Posted on 23/11/2016
Would Donald Trump make a good Fulham Boy?
Last week I was invited to speak at King’s College London on, ‘Would Jesus vote for Donald Trump?’ As I travelled home on the tube after the meeting I began to wonder what kind of Fulham Boy Mr Trump would make.
Put simply, not a very good one. So much of what he says, does and stands for, cuts across the ethos of the school and the 3 pillars our school is built upon.
FBS is a school that is ‘geared towards boys’. Everything we do is designed to ‘bring out the best in boys’. But in this masculine environment we are at pains to show our boys that it is a school for ‘boys’ not a school for ‘lads’. We encourage our young men to be gentlemen, have good manners and respect women. Whilst we recognise that boys and girls are different we also believe they are not better or worse, not superior and inferior, just different. If our boys talked about women or treated women the way Mr Trump has, they’d be excluded.
FBS is also a school built upon the Christian faith. Our assemblies are Biblical, boys are exposed to the claims of Jesus Christ, the Christian view is discussed in every subject and Christian values are encouraged and promoted. But boys from all religions along with boys who are not religious in the slightest are most welcome and made to feel at home. If any boy was campaigning to keep Muslim boys or any other groups of boys out, they’d be excluded.
We encourage our boys to be kind to everyone and provide equal opportunities for all. Shockingly, Mr Trump actually mocked a reporter with a disability in one of his rallies. As long as I live, I will never understand how this alone wasn’t the end of his ambition to be president.
In line with our Christian foundation, we are keen to have boys from all upbringings, nationalities, socio-economic backgrounds and cultures. We believe that we are all equal and that our non-selective intake and array of different cultures (particularly the Welsh!) enriches our school. Mr Trump is determined to make America great again and thinks the way to do that is to build walls to keep other people out. We think the way to make The Fulham Boys School great is to tear walls down.
We encourage our boys to keep their word. However, I am not sure Mr Trump sets a shining example here. He has already gone back on some things he said in his campaign or ‘softened’ them. The Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year is post-truth – politics appealing to emotion without reference to policy, or truth, or fact. I think we are all interested to see how he is going to build his wall.
Competition plays a huge part at FBS. Eisteddfod, attendance cup, inter house rugby, football and cricket matches, playing against other schools, progress marks, bake offs. Our boys are desperate to win and particularly keen to put one over on their mates. But we stress the importance of winning with grace and losing with dignity and playing the game fairly. Whereas Mr Trump threatened that if he lost he might not accept the result! It was a dirty campaign; even John Kerry, the USA Secretary of State, on his visit to London apologised that it had been so embarrassing.
Mr Trump by all accounts had a demanding father who told his children that only the strong survive, often repeating the words: ‘You have to be a killer if you want to be king’. This cut throat approach is anathema at FBS. We want boys to be ambitious, have big aspirations, to be personally enterprising, have drive and determination but equally we want our boys to use their gifts and abilities for the good of all. We want them to think of others before themselves. Social enterprise and this notion of giving back runs through all we do.
As well as personal and social enterprise, business enterprise is important at FBS. We want our boys to be business savvy. Mr Trump is a seemingly brilliant business man – but is he? In his early days he made some good deals but overall his record is mixed. The National Journal calculated that if he’d put his father’s money into a stock tracker fund and spent his career finger painting, he’d be worth $8bn – twice his estimated fortune.
In saying all that, maybe FBS boys can learn some things from Donald Trump. He has achieved what nearly everyone thought was impossible. If the last 6 months have taught us anything it is that anything is possible! If you were a betting person and had bet on Brexit, Donald Trump being American president and Leicester City winning the league, you’d probably be as rich as Trump himself. Trump proves to our boys the importance of thinking big, possessing a have a go, don’t give in, never know when you are beaten attitude. If Trump can become the president of America, think big boys and go for it because it might just happen!
The result of the US election should also make us think and reflect. One of the students at Kings College asked me why so many Christians in America voted for Trump. They also commented that no one will admit to voting for Trump but clearly 62 million Americans did. I think it is partially down to the timing of Supreme Court nominations. Many voters didn’t really want either Trump or Clinton, but thought that whichever one was elected would only be in office for 4 years (if that!). But the Supreme Court judges they appoint may be there for 30 or 40 years – and they were worried about the liberal majority likely to form under a Clinton presidency. It was more a vote for what they didn’t want, rather than what they did want. It would seem a lot of people are worried about things becoming more and more liberal but are frightened to speak up as it is seen as politically incorrect. Perhaps what happened in America should teach us not to be so dismissive of the silent majority, not assume everyone thinks the same. It should encourage people to speak up and question conventional norms. Few can have wished for Trump but neither do they want to be bullied by an aggressive liberalism.
Trump would be an awful Fulham Boy. He would be excluded at least 4 times before being told to leave. But maybe, just maybe there are some things we should learn from him.