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Trump's 'Us vs. Them' Politics Raises Warning Of Global Fallout

Amnesty International sees a dangerous model in his "poisonous" rhetoric and policies.

22/02/2017 5:32 AM IST | Updated 22/02/2017 5:32 AM IST

The humanitarian consequences of President Donald Trump’s “poisonous” rhetoric will be felt far beyond U.S. borders, Amnesty International warned Tuesday.

The nonprofit organization released its comprehensive annual report outlining the state of human rights in 159 countries around the world and the growing influence of populist leadership.

Trump’s hateful rhetoric exemplifies “a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics,” the report said. Other prominent watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch, have labeled Trump and other self-proclaimed “anti-establishment” leaders as international threats to human rights.

Adotei Akwei, Amnesty’s managing director of government relations, pointed to the Trump administration’s evolving Muslim ban, which was introduced to restrict U.S. entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees, and its planned wall on the Mexican border, intended to curb illegal immigration, as clear examples of divisive policies.

Beyond the direct effect on residents of the targeted nations, Akwei warned, the ban and wall set dangerous examples and could embolden other governments that have been watching closely.

“We believe that Trump’s policies will not only become a model for governments to use, but also, by implementing them, the United States will sort of be giving a blessing or an encouragement that ‘this is acceptable for us, so you guys can get away with it also,’” Akwei told The Huffington Post.

Speaking about the Muslim ban, he added, “That kind of exclusionary tactic ― and, in particular, one that uses faith as a criteria ― is something that could really be very scary and replicated in other countries.”

Trump’s influence has already spread to Europe, where populism has been on the rise in countries such as France, Britain and Italy. A chief government spokesperson in Hungary said earlier this month that “a change of perspective in the U.S.” vindicated Budapest’s draconian refugee policies.

Mike Segar/Reuters
Donald Trump's rhetoric exemplifies “a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics,” warns Amnesty International.

Amnesty’s report details a “toxic, dehumanizing ‘us vs. them’” approach that politicians like Trump have used to divert blame and generate fear to advance their agendas.

“I think one of the implications of [Trump’s] ‘America First’ foreign policy is that it will be purely transactional; if you are not with us [the United States], you are against us and there will be consequences,” Akwei said. 

Even before taking office, Trump received scathing condemnation for cultivating hateful and often false narratives about groups including Muslims, Mexicans and refugees for his political gain.

“Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs,” Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement released ahead of the report. “Today’s politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others, stripping away the humanity of entire groups of people.”

Trump’s presidential campaign, “marked by misogyny and xenophobia” as well as blatant pledges to roll back established civil liberties, foreshadowed a government that could be profoundly inimical to human rights, Amnesty warned. His election has also yielded “serious concerns” about U.S. human rights commitments domestically and globally.

“This report comes as a reminder that the rest of the world is still out there, and that the world needs the United States to be a force for good,” Akwei said. “Hopefully discussions will be generated about what road the United States should be taking, as opposed to the one that it currently appears to be on.”

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