Trump and Human Rights
The United States of America can be seen as one of the influential countries in global developments. Any change or development in this country can quickly and strongly take on global repercussions. Donald Trump winning the presidential elections was one of the most unexpected political events following the end of the Second World War in the era of the domination of democracy discourse. One of the various consequences that can occur with Trump in the Oval Office might be the subject of human rights.
Aside from political exploitations of human rights by superpowers, human rights can be seen as one of the most important achievements of Mankind in the modern era. Here, a number of questions arise: How much in conflict are Trump’s campaign slogans and policies with human rights? What relation do these conflicts have with the nationalist and populist tendencies of Trump? And finally, what relation does Trump’s anti-human rights tendencies have with ideology?
1- Human Rights
Human rights are the most basic and fundamental rights that each individual inherently and naturally has for being a human. This simple definition has important social and political consequences and reactions for the people and governments. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international documents, these rights include characteristics such as, universal, undeniable, non-transferable, inalienable, non-discriminative and equality seeking, interconnected and intertwined. Thus these rights belong to all individuals in every part of the world, and no one can be denied these rights regardless of what geographical location they may be in. These rights include natural and legal rights which exist in national and international laws.
2 – Trump and the Position of NGOs
Human Rights Watch listed President-elect Donald Trump as a threat to human rights, calling his campaign a “vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance.” (See also)
“Donald Trump’s election as US president after a campaign fomenting hatred and intolerance, and the rising influence of political parties in Europe that reject universal rights, have put the post-war human rights system at risk,” the group said in a 13 January 2017 statement announcing a new report.
Trumps position and remarks on minorities, women and immigrants has caused the reactions of human rights defending groups. Plans such as the building of the wall on the Mexican border, and deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants, his views on women’s rights and many other controversial views, has spread these reactions. So basically it can be said that Trump is a potential threat to human rights. We must see where these threats to human rights of his originate from.
3 – The Clash between Globalism and Isolationism
Modernism, sees its ideas and theories as universal, and it deems it for the wellbeing of Mankind necessary and apt. In other words, this ideology, deems the realisation of western modernity in the world possible or necessary, and in any event, good. For this reason, from the outset it had the notion of claiming to be global and universal. Human rights is one of these concepts. On this basis one of the most common challenges that human rights concept is faced with, is interpretations that exist from the wisdom institutions (such as universality).
In this regard, the most important question is, is human rights a universal concept, and it’s the common ground of all moral and belief systems? Norms such as human rights, although might appear that are legitimate in all ages, but its concept in different eras practically will result in a difference in definition and ultimately change in concepts. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights tells us that these rights are regardless of gender, race and nationality, the dignity, innate and inalienable inherent rights must be protected under any circumstances. These concepts that are absolute and universal on which the basis of the concept of human rights is solidified. Various philosophical approaches of the 20th Century say in different times and places, the definition of values change, and from the knowledge aspects it is a big blow to the concept of human rights. Trump, has in various ways stated that he’s not much interested in America’s international responsibilities, because he is trying to solve America’s domestic problems. Trump’s tendencies, according to his speeches and stated positions is to isolationism, which is Trump’s first conflict with human rights.
4 -Trump, National Interests and Human Rights
The net question is can trump be seen as a nationalist, if so, what effect will it have on the position of human rights in America’s policies? In reply we must point out that nationalism is a right wing socio-political movement which by focusing on national interest as a turning point of all internal and external interests, causes evolutionary leaps and speeds up nations’ movements towards a global civilisation. Today all politicians speak of national interests. Trump speaks less of the common language and culture heritage of America. But one his important slogans was “make America great again”, and to an extent that slogan brings him closer to being a nationalist politician. The logic of this narrative is that nationalism in any form ultimately is at the service of local (internal) objectives, and clashes with any form of universality.
Human rights is a universal concept. Stressing on the interests of a particular race clashes with this concept. Human rights is based on an international nature, and nationalism contradicts world homeland or internationalism. Internationalism supports the removal of all borders and the demise of the today’s concept of “country”. When we compare this ideology with Trumps wall plan, the conflict level is clearly notable. With concepts such as “love for country” and or “love for the nation”, nationalism goes to war with internationalist beliefs and tries to the shortfalls that have come as a result of system and individuals’ failures of the “world homeland”. Universality is one of the most important characteristics of human rights and the argument of the relationship of human rights universal principles and the micro basis on which these principles have been conformed with are of significant importance.
5 – Trump, Populism and Human Rights
Donald Trump’s slogans specifically put him in the category of populist politicians. He claims to have created the most jobs than any other president to-date. He has also vowed that by the end of his four-year term to draw positive approval ratings of 95 percent of African-Americans. Such slogans are the main profile of populist politicians.
Populism has a number of the following characteristics:
1 – Drawing people’s support by giving general and ambiguous promises, and usually under the control of a charismatic leader
2 – Following political objectives, independent from existing parties and institutions, by calling the masses to put direct pressure on the government.
3 – Glorification and sanctification of the populace, with a belief that political objectives must be determined by the will and the power of the people and separate from political parties or organizations.
Of course the political tradition of populism has a special form in each country. Expansionism and boosting forces related to domestic markets and at times freedom of syndicates are some of the important natures of the populism period.
As observed the major nature of populism is leaning towards the masses. By creating a hegemonic structure this nature tries to fulfil the nation’s interests in a general concept. History has shown that these policies ultimately result in conflict with human rights. Furthermore, the collective popularize with an individualistic nature of human rights clashes with knowledge.
Ideological tendencies mean that parallel to factual subjects (in relevant aspects) that get closer to mental subjects satisfactorily, the treatment of factual subjects too get closer towards the determined behaviour in a satisfactory way on the basis of mental laws. By proposing ideas, Trump tries to portray the real world in a different way. There are two groups of ideas. Ideas that have come about from historic experiences and those that are from the mind. Human rights is an idea as a result of bitter historic experiences of Mankind, particularly in the 20th Century.
Disregarding the world’s realities and launching these ideas will bring a dangerous situation in which demands and values are based on the induction of hegemonic structure and towards the fictitious interests of the populace or nation. These ideas simply clash with human rights. Trump is a clear example of this new situation.
By: Saeed Sarani
The views expressed in this article are the author's opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ODVV.