BY LEERON HOORY
The rise of populism fueled by leaders like Donald Trump are among some of the biggest threats to human rights, according to the 2017 World Report released on Thursday by Human Rights Watch.
“Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism,” HRW Executive Director Kenneth said in a press release for the 687-page report. “They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change, or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny.”
In the report, which HRW issues annually to detail the state of human rights around the world, it says that populists are encouraged by a growing public that perceives “rights as protecting only these ‘other’ people, not themselves, and thus as dispensable” and the “dangerous trend threatens to reverse the accomplishments of the modern human rights movement.”
As for Trump the report credits his appeal to the growing public discontent with the status quo, fueled by the belief that globalization is taking away jobs in the U.S., increasing inequality, and leaving many people behind, as well as fear fueled by the threat of terrorism.
Trump has disavowed, albeit slowly in some cases, some of the discriminatory rhetoric that plagued him on the campaign trail from card-carrying racists and members of the so called alt-right movement. He’s also vowed to create a Muslim registry, ban Muslims from entering the US, vilified undocumented immigrants from Mexico and attacked trade deals and globalization as threats to the US economy. Of these campaign promises, the HRW calls them baseless and empty.
“The mass deportation of migrants that he threatened, including of many with established ties in the United States and a record of contributing productively to the economy, will do nothing to bring back long-lost manufacturing jobs,” the report said.
The report attacked Trump’s campaign as “a vivid illustration of this politics of intolerance.” He used “dangerous rhetoric” that appealed to Americans’ discontent, he “breached basic principles of dignity and equality” by stereotyping migrants, vilifying refugees, and promising extreme vetting for Muslims.
Trump’s influence was also criticized in the report for emboldening populist leaders in Europe and encouraging strongman leaders in Russia, China, Turkey and the Philippines to towards further extremism.
Several right-wing leaders in Europe have been emboldened by Trump’s surprise victory, expressing hope that his xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric will help further their parties. In France, Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the French Front National, said last year that Trump’s surprise victory “makes the impossible possible.” Dutch politician Geert Wilders declared that “America has just liberated itself from political correctness”, borrowing from Trump’s rhetoric to fuel his own anti-immigrant policies.
In response, the NGO calls for a “vigorous reaffirmation and defense” of human rights from civil society organizations and media outlets that should work to reaffirm and defend basic rights that Trump and other leaders have put under attack, “lest the fears of the moment sweep away the wisdom that built democratic rule.”