Hope Versus Trump
11 Feb 2017DONALD TRUMP’S presidency is turning out to be every bit as dangerous and divisive as progressives across the world feared.
The rhetoric of his campaign and that of his supporters during the election saw great concern in the US and beyond about prospects of a rise in racism, sexism, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and homophobia.
Now, his first spate of executive orders have confirmed the worst of our fears.
He has targeted migrants and Muslims in the first weeks of his presidency, confirming that many of those already facing persecution and discrimination are set for an even harder time in the years ahead.
The most attention of course — and global outcry — has been concerning what has been termed the “Muslim Ban.”
Trump signed an executive order blocking travellers from seven countries, all of which are Muslim-majority — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — from entering the US for 90 days.
New refugee admissions are suspended for 120 days while Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In an interview, he said he continues to believe waterboarding works and talked about bringing it back, though it is outlawed in the US as torture.
This has again faced significant opposition — his new defence secretary, retired general James Mattis, is on record as saying he does not believe waterboarding is effective and has reiterated it is illegal, as have top Republican congressional leaders such as speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.
And of course, he has no solutions to inequality, poverty, lack of public services and social injustice at home — with “Obamacare” repeal firmly on the agenda.
Defence of Obamacare and the demand for public healthcare for US citizens is also an issue on which many are taking to the streets in the US.
Additionally, on the international stage, vital agreements and examples of co-operation are also on the receiving end of the Trump administration’s ire — whether it be for international disarmament or to take vital steps to tackle climate change.
Indeed, Trump has approved construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which had both been halted during Barack Obama’s administration amid outcry from environmental and Native American groups.
When it comes to neighbouring Latin America, Trump has said he will go ahead with building a wall on the Mexican border, with his supporters accompanying this with militaristic and jingoistic interventions.
This has led to a backlash from left-wing presidents in the region, including Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who said there needs to be “a regional stand to defend the main type of mobility, which is human mobility, the defence of human rights, [and in] reminding the United States that they have been a country of migrants.”
Perhaps most worryingly in terms of international affairs and foreign policy, national security adviser Michael Flynn made a surprise appearance at one of the daily press briefings to announce that the administration was putting Iran “on notice” after the country conducted a ballistic missile test.
In a major attack on women’s right internationally, the global gag rules has been reinstated — this Reagan-era rule (that was not in effect for most of the Obama years) bans international NGOs with US funding from providing abortions or offering information about abortion. This includes testifying about the impacts of illegal abortion.
George Bush followed a similar course to Trump on this issue and according to Engender Health, a global women’s health organisation, the Bush-era cuts resulted in more than 20 developing countries losing access to US-provided contraceptives.
Around the globe, many NGOs were forced to shut down or downsize, reducing the availability of family planning services, HIV programmes and maternal and child health programmes.
At the time of writing, over 1.8 million people here in Britain have signed a petition arguing that Trump not be accorded a state visit and I was delighted to address one of the big anti-Trump demonstrations in London.
Jeremy Corbyn led the way in calling for no state visit to Trump, writing to Theresa May to demand that she withdraws the offer, saying: “I support the demand of millions of British people.
“Donald Trump should not be welcomed on a state visit to this country while he continues to propagate his anti-women, anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican policies.
“His invite should be withdrawn until the executive orders are gone and every element of them repealed.”
Let no-one be in doubt that the current Labour Party leadership will oppose all those who fan the flames of fear at home and abroad and be proud to be part of this global movement of hope, that is also a burgeoning movement here in Britain, that will stand up to Trump and for a fairer future.