Trump’s belligerence towards Iran plays into the hands of Tehran’s hardliners

Saeed Kamali Dehghan writes: Distorting realities, ignoring nuances and hijacking people’s fears: that’s the recipe for a demagogue who lives not on his own wits but others’ miseries. It is particularly bad when the person or the country being targeted by that demagogue does little to straighten things out, which is exactly what is happening right now with Iran and Donald Trump.

Iranians know too well from their own experience with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, their hardline former president, how dangerous it is to have a politician telling you passionately half of the truth without caring that the other half is often a lie or a distortion of facts.

Trump’s increasingly bellicose approach towards Iran, first by imposing a blanket travel ban, then putting Tehran “on notice” after a ballistic missile test, as well as by reported plans of new sanctions, carries two subtle messages. The first message is that Iranophobia is going to be his adopted weapon to distract attentions at home, appeal strongly to the US’s wealthy Arab allies who are already welcoming him as a moderate president, and please Benjamin Netanyahu. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, reacting on Twitter to the missile test, is right to point out that Iran only spends a fraction on defence compared to the US’s Arab allies in the region, which are big recipients of US, UK and French arms.

Trump’s second message, albeit one barely admitted by his officials, is that his administration’s problem is not just with the Iranian state, but with its people too. His executive order suspending all entries to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries affects Iranians to a greater extent than it does nationals from the other six states.

There are more Iranians in the US, and far more Iranian students are likely to be affected by the new measures than those from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen put together. Last year, there were 12,269 Iranian students studying in the US, according to data by the Institute of International Education, compared to 5,085 from the six other countries. Iranians are struggling to understand why they are being targeted in this way. [Continue reading…]

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America’s long history of rejecting immigrants

Paul A Kramer writes: The Statue of Liberty’s long career as a beacon to the oppressed began in 1882 with refugees whose religion some Americans feared. The czar was cracking down on Jews, and tens of thousands of people fled across Europe, many reaching the East Coast of the United States. Jewish American organizations rushed to aid them, as commentators debated what the sudden influx meant. What, if anything, did America owe these impoverished strangers, with their non-Christian faith? In a booming industrial society hungry for workers but fearful of beggars and bomb-throwers, were they a benefit or a danger?

It was at this moment that a Jewish American poet in New York, Emma Lazarus, made her way to the depot on Wards Island, where the refugees were being housed. Moved by their suffering, she taught classes and pressed for better shelter, food, and sanitation. Later, Lazarus was asked to contribute a poem for an auction to raise funds for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, and here she did something strange.

Until then, the icon had symbolized Franco-American friendship and trans-Atlantic republicanism. But in her sonnet, Lazarus recast it as a welcome signal to the poor and threatened, a “Mother of Exiles” calling out to the world to give over its “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Lazarus’ statue was not asking: “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me”; it commanded. The poem wore its ambivalence about immigrants on its sleeve — “wretched refuse,” it called them — but it also expressed the idea of the United States as a haven for outcasts in bold new ways, ways that would face repeated onslaughts in the coming decades.

Last week, Donald Trump launched the latest of these attacks, issuing an executive order that suspends the entrance of all refugees for 120 days, prohibits the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for at least 90 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. Given the racist, anti-immigrant nationalism at the center of Trump’s presidential campaign, his action came as no surprise. For his supporters, it represented a blow against menacing Islam and an assertion of white, Protestant identity as the genuine core of what it means to be American. For Trump’s many critics, it represented an outrageous affront to the United States’ deepest values as a beckoning “nation of immigrants,” the tradition that Lazarus championed.

Both stories about immigration and America — that there was a glorious past in which America was pure and protected from outsiders, or that Americans have always prized multicultural inclusion — remake the past to score political points in the present. In fact, Trump’s vile exercise in nativism — the xenophobic celebration of the national self — is only the latest maneuver in a series of battles over immigrants’ role in American life and America’s place in the world. Viewed historically, the claim that these anti-immigrant policies are “not who we are,” while stirring, does not hold water. American nativist politics have deep roots.

The founders made clear enough who among immigrants they envisioned to be potential citizens, barring naturalization to all but “free white persons” who had been in the country two years. In the mid-19th century, America’s first mass nativist movement directed Protestant nationalist fury against Irish Catholic immigrants suspected of depravity and papal allegiances that would corrupt the United States’ free institutions. In the 1880s, anti-Chinese movements, fired by fears of labor competition and civilizational decline, won the first congressional legislation restricting immigrants on the basis of racialized national origin. Hatred of immigrants as poor and working people — assumed to be lazy, immoral, and given to “dependency” on American largesse — animated U.S. nativism from its birth. [Continue reading…]

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Only a third of Americans think Trump’s travel ban will make them safer

Reuters reports: Imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries, President Donald Trump said the move would help protect the United States from terrorism. But less than one-third of Americans believe the move makes them “more safe,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The Jan. 30-31 poll found roughly one in two Americans backed the ban, which also suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days, although there were sharp divisions along party lines.

Trump has pushed back against critics who say the travel ban targets Muslims. He says the “extreme vetting” is necessary to protect the country and its borders.

“This is not about religion,” Trump said in a statement after announcing the travel ban on Friday. “This is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

In the Reuters/Ipsos poll some 31 percent of people said the ban made them feel “more safe,” while 26 percent said it made them feel “less safe.” Another 33 percent said it would not make any difference and the rest said they don’t know. [Continue reading…]

As usual, the unimaginative pollsters sliced the pie in a predictable way by identifying Democrats and Republicans. What would perhaps have been more enlightening would have been to differentiate between those who do or do not possess passports.

The implications of border regulations are significantly different for people who never venture overseas.

 

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World leaders condemn Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’ Theresa May take note: the ban also applies to dual nationals

Al Jazeera reports: European leaders, the United Nations and international groups have condemned US President Donald Trump’s measures against refugees and travellers from several Muslim-majority countries.

The chorus of criticism came as passport holders from Arab countries were blocked on Saturday from passing through customs at US airports and others were prevented from boarding US-bound planes.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will curb immigration and the entry of refugees from some Muslim-majority countries. He separately said he wanted the US to give priority to Syrian Christians fleeing the civil war there.

The bans, though temporary, took effect immediately, causing havoc and confusion for would-be travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The United Nations refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration called on the Trump administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement programme was vital.

“The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement programme is one of the most important in the world,” the two Geneva-based agencies said in a joint statement on Saturday. [Continue reading…]

The Wall Street Journal reports: Citizens of the seven countries identified by President Donald Trump for a 90-day visa ban who hold dual nationality also will be barred from entering the United States, the U.S. State Department said in a statement Saturday.

In a statement that the State Department is due to release, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the 90-day visa moratorium extends beyond just citizens of Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

It also applies to people who originally hail from those countries but are traveling on a passport issued by any other nation, the statement notes. That means Iraqis seeking to enter the U.S. on a British passport, for instance, will be barred, according to a U.S. official. British citizens don’t normally require a visa to enter the U.S. [Continue reading…]

The Independent reports: Theresa May has repeatedly refused to condemn Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations after meeting with Turkish leaders.

She was speaking just a day after meeting the new President in Washington, where the pair pledged their commitment to the “special relationship” between Britain and the US.

After agreeing a controversial £100 million fighter jet deal amid wide-ranging purges and security crackdowns following an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ms May held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.

Their talks were overshadowed by global debate over Mr Trump’s executive order to ban Syrian refugees from entering the US indefinitely, halt all other asylum admissions for 120 days and suspend travel visas for citizens of “countries of particular concern”, including Syria, Iraq and other Muslim-majority nations.

​Faisal Islam, the political editor of Sky News, asked Ms May whether she viewed it as an “action of the leader of the free world”.

The Prime Minister replied that she was “very pleased” to have met Mr Trump in Washington, before evading the question by hailing Turkey’s reception of millions of refugees and Britain’s support for its government and other nations surrounding Syria.

When pressed for a second time for her view by another British journalist, Ms May continued: “The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees, the United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees.” [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s big mistake on Syria refugees

Peter Bergen writes: On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that effectively suspends the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States indefinitely. As he signed the order, President Trump said that this was “to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.”

This order will achieve absolutely nothing because there is no evidence of terrorists among the Syrian refugees who are settling in the United States.

All the lethal acts of jihadist terrorism in the States since 9/11 have been carried out by American citizens or legal residents, and none of them have been the work of Syrian refugees.

That shouldn’t be too surprising, because the United States has accepted only a minuscule number of Syrian refugees, even though the Syrian civil war is one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II and has generated a vast outflow of nearly 5 million refugees from Syria.

The United States has taken only around 15,000 Syrian refugees, amounting to a tiny 0.2% of the total number of refugees, the large majority of whom are women and children.

Not only are these Syrian refugees not terrorists, but they are fleeing the brutal state terrorism of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the brutal non-state terrorism of ISIS.

The refugees are the victims of terrorism, not the perpetrators of terrorism. [Continue reading…]

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Pope Francis: ‘Jesus was a refugee’

The Huffington Post reported on June 23, 2014: Pope Francis made a poignant appeal on behalf of the world’s refugees during his Wednesday general audience, reminding all listening that Jesus, too, encountered times of hardship and danger.

“We believe that Jesus was a refugee, had to flee to save his life, with Saint Joseph and Mary, had to leave for Egypt,” Pope Francis said, according to Zenit. “He was a refugee. Let us pray to Our Lady who knows the pain of refugees.”

The pope made his petition to the Church, which he defined as “all of us,” not limited to “priests, bishops, or the Vatican,” reported Asia News.

World Refugee Day is on June 20. “The number of these brother refugees is growing and, in these past few days, thousands more have been forced to leave their homes in order to save their life. Millions of families, millions of them, refugees from many countries and different faiths, experience in their stories tragedies and wounds that will not likely be healed,” said Pope Francis. “Let us be their neighbors, share their fears and uncertainty about the future, and take concrete steps to reduce their suffering.” [Continue reading…]

Amanda Erickson reports: As the man bobbed in the water, onlookers pulled out their smartphones.

“Go on, go back where you came from,”one man yelled. “Africa!” shouted another. “He is stupid. He wants to die,” said a third, caught on film. Someone in a nearby water bus threw out a life vest, but the man in the water didn’t grab on. Spectators began to wonder if he was suicidal. One woman suggested to a neighbor that he was just pretending.

Finally, tourists at Venice’s Grand Canal began to laugh as 22-year-old Pateh Sabally of Gambia drowned in the canal’s icy waters.

Sabally came to Italy two years ago and was living in the country legally. Last year, according to Italian media outlets, he traveled to Switzerland to look for work. He wanted to travel closer to his family in Mexico, but Swiss officials sent him back to Italy.


His death, which has rippled across social media, is a bleak reminder of how deep tensions run between local citizens and migrants, particularly in countries like Italy and Germany, which are on the front line of Europe’s refugee crisis. Last year, 181,000 migrants traveled to Italy’s shores, a 20 percent jump from 2015. Some come from Syria, others from Libya and Eritrea. [Continue reading…]

In reaction to President Trump’s Executive Order to effectively prevent refugees from seeking resettlement in the USA, Salil Shetty, Secretary General at Amnesty International said:

“President Trump’s Executive Order effectively blocking those fleeing war and persecution from war-torn countries such as Syria, from seeking safe haven in the USA are an appalling move with potentially catastrophic consequences.

“Some of our worst fears about the Trump administration have already been realised. With the stroke of a pen, President Trump has put his hateful xenophobic pre-election rhetoric into action by singling out people only of the basis of their religion.”

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Mexico, unlike Britain, refuses to bow to America’s naked emperor

The New York Times reports: For decades, the United States and Mexico have expanded their cooperation and increasingly entwined their fortunes. Now the relationship between America and one of its most important allies and trading partners is being rewritten — on Twitter — culminating in a remarkable back-and-forth as the world looked on.

It began with Mr. Trump’s proclamation to build the wall. Next came a diplomatic response from Mr. Peña Nieto, urging unity, accompanied by suggestions from his aides that the meeting might be scrapped over the offense.

Mr. Trump followed on Thursday morning with a threat to cancel the meeting himself. Soon after, Mr. Peña Nieto officially announced that he would not attend, effectively beating Mr. Trump to the punch.

The exchange offered insight into the evolution of Mexico’s president, who began his term with great fanfare in 2012, only to be hounded by scandal, the violence engulfing his nation, a steady decline in the polls and, now, perhaps the worst period in Mexican-American relations since President Calvin Coolidge. [Continue reading…]

Jorge Guajardo writes: Trump now faces a southern neighbor largely united in its anti-U.S. sentiment. This sentiment is not primarily moved by his intention to renegotiate NAFTA; or his racist, anti-Mexican rhetoric; or even by the idea of the wall itself, which anyone who has actually been to the U.S.-Mexico border knows is patently absurd given the topography along the 2,000-odd mile length of the border — not to mention the large swathes of protected or privately owned land there. The sentiment, which led every single political leader in Mexico to demand that President Peña Nieto cancel his trip to Washington, comes from the indignity of the notion that Mexico will somehow pay for the wall. The Trump administration is basing its entire approach to the bilateral relationship with Mexico on a ludicrous and arrogant proposition: that it can make another sovereign nation foot the bill for its own xenophobic construction project.

Trump has recklessly and needlessly ushered in a dark era in U.S.-Mexico relations. Gratuitously bashing Mexico and Mexican immigrants plays well with Trump’s base, and in his ignorance, he seems to believe he can do it without consequences. With the possible exception of Canada, there is no other country with as many areas and levels of cooperation with the U.S. as Mexico. Issues of trade, transportation, national security, organized crime, water, the environment, health, and immigration that affect both countries rely on extensive bilateral cooperation and goodwill.

As Mexico prepares for a presidential election in 2018, every candidate worth his or her salt will try to outdo the competitors in anti-U.S. posturing. They will promise to expel armed U.S. law-enforcement personnel from Mexico, to legalize drugs, to allow Central American migrants to reach the U.S. border, to stop sharing water with drought-ravaged border states. Some of them, if elected, may even want to emulate Trump and follow through on their most ridiculous campaign promises. The voters, for sure, will be egging them on to stick it to the United States.

From an early age, every Mexican is taught that Mexico lost half its territory to its imperialist northern neighbor. Ask any Mexican child and they will name all six “Niños Heroes,” young cadets who died defending Chapultepec castle from the invading U.S. forces in 1847. One of them is said to have wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped to his death rather than be captured by the Americans. His story might be as apocryphal as George Washington’s cherry tree, but it nonetheless remains a powerful symbol of Mexican nationalism: We will just as soon suffer hardship, or even death, than be submitted to humiliation from the U.S. [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, British Prime Minister Theresa May appears to have few reservations about ingratiating herself through obsequious overtures she is now making to Trump: May’s loyalty is being rewarded this week with a plum designation: On Friday, she will be the first foreign leader to meet Trump in the Oval Office. The meeting will give her a prime chance to pitch Trump on a U.S.-Britain free-trade deal, an agreement that May has signaled will be a top priority of her premiership as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

But as she was winging across the Atlantic on Thursday, she also faced a wicked backlash in London from lawmakers who say her courting of the new U.S. president has gone too far.

The criticism came after Downing Street released excerpts from a speech May intends to deliver Thursday at a retreat for Republican congressmen in Philadelphia. Trump is also due to address the gathering.

In her speech, May seems to endorse Trump’s view of himself as a turnaround artist who can restore America to lost greatness. Both the United States and Britain, she is due to tell the Republicans, are “rediscover[ing] our confidence.”

“As you renew your nation just as we renew ours — we have the opportunity — indeed the responsibility — to renew the Special Relationship for this new age,” May will say, according to the excerpts. “We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.”

May’s office also said she would be bearing gifts when she meets the Trumps: “a hamper full of produce” from the prime minister’s country retreat, Chequers, for first lady Melania Trump; and for the president, “an engraved Quaich” — a two-handled cup that is an ancient Scottish symbol of friendship.

But back in London, May’s friendship mission was falling flat, as lawmakers wondered how their leader could seemingly ignore Trump’s more extreme positions and actions, include his advocacy of torture, his promotion of protectionism and his proposed ban on Syrian refugees. [Continue reading…]

The White House accuses the press of being part of a campaign to delegitimize Trump. In truth, Trump delegitimizes himself on a daily basis.

The only question anyone — foreign leader, cabinet secretary, federal official, or journalist — should be asking themselves is whether through their words an actions they are lending legitimacy to a man who would otherwise have none.

The United States now has at its helm an imbecile, a naked emperor, a national embarrassment.

This charade is only being sustained by those who are willing to afford Trump respect which he has done nothing to earn.

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Trump’s order to ban refugees and immigrants triggers fears across the globe

The Washington Post reports: President Trump’s executive order to tighten the vetting of potential immigrants and visitors to the United States, as well as to ban some refugees seeking to resettle in the country, will shatter countless dreams and divide families, would-be immigrants and ­human rights activists warned.

The draft order calls for an immediate halt to resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, rejecting visas for visitors and immigrant hopefuls based partly on their ideology and opinions. A copy of the draft order was leaked Wednesday to civil rights groups and obtained by The Washington Post.

“I feel devastated,” said Ibrahim Abu Ghanem, 37, a father of three in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, whose father and two brothers live in the United States. “This means all my plans are going to go down the drain.”

If the order is enacted, among those immediately affected would be potential immigrants and visitors from seven Muslim countries — Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Libya and Sudan — that are considered by the Trump administration to be nations whose citizens “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” For the next 30 days, they will not be allowed entry into the United States, even if they have visas and relatives who are U.S. citizens. [Continue reading…]

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As Trump orders wall, Mexico’s president considers canceling U.S. trip

The New York Times reports: When Donald J. Trump called some Mexican immigrants rapists, threatened to deport millions of them and promised to build a wall to keep others out, Mexican officials counseled caution, saying it was merely bluster from an unlikely candidate who, if elected, would never follow through.

Now, after just five days in office, President Trump is looking a lot like Candidate Trump — and the Mexicans are furious.

With just a few strokes of the pen on Wednesday, the new American president signed an executive order to beef up the nation’s deportation force and start construction on a new wall between the nations. Adding to the perceived insult was the timing of the order: It came on the first day of talks between top Mexican officials and their counterparts in Washington, and just days before a meeting between the two countries’ presidents.

The action was enough to prompt President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico to consider scrapping his plans to visit the White House on Tuesday, according to Mexican officials. In a video message delivered over Twitter on Wednesday night, Mr. Peña Nieto did not address whether he would cancel the meeting, saying only that future steps would be taken in consultation with the country’s lawmakers. Instead, he reiterated his commitment to protect the interests of Mexico and the Mexican people, and chided the move in Washington to continue with the wall.

“I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” he said.

It mattered little to Mexicans whether Mr. Trump’s order would receive congressional approval or the funding required to fulfill it.

The perceived insults endured during the campaign had finally turned into action. Decades of friendly relations between the nations — on matters involving trade, security and migration — seemed to be unraveling. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border cannot be built with only the executive order he signed Wednesday and its construction will require congressional approval, border experts and former federal officials said.

While Trump can start the wall by shifting around existing federal funds, he will need Congress to appropriate the $20 billion — and perhaps significantly more — required to complete the massive structure, the experts and former officials said.

“How is he going to fund it? You need money!” Rand Beers, a former acting Department of Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, said Wednesday. “He’s got to have the money. And you can’t reprogram all that money without congressional authorization.” [Continue reading…]

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Trump turns his xenophobic threats into executive orders

The New York Times reports: President Trump signed an order on Wednesday to start building a border wall with Mexico and was planning to indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the United States and to institute a temporary halt on all refugees from the rest of the world.

The refugee policies are part of an executive order he is expected to issue as soon as Thursday, according to an eight-page document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

The order would require tougher vetting of foreigners fleeing persecution and place a monthlong ban on allowing any person into the United States from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen. Refugee admissions would be halted for 120 days while a review of screening procedures is completed. When it resumes, the program would be far smaller, with the total number of refugees resettled in the United States this year more than halved, to 50,000 from 110,000.

An early draft of an executive order that President Donald J. Trump is expected to issue as early as Thursday outlines his plans to indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the United States and institute a temporary halt on all refugees from the rest of the world.

White House officials declined to comment on the forthcoming plan, which emerged as Mr. Trump announced the construction of his long-promised Mexican border wall and aggressive new measures intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants inside the United States.

Through a pair of executive orders he signed at the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Trump was laying out a new vision for fortifying the nation’s borders and sharply increasing efforts to round up and remove some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States — including by enlisting state and local officials to track and apprehend them.

“Federal agencies are going to unapologetically enforce the law — no ifs, ands or buts,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. “The American people get the final say who can and cannot enter our nation.”

The plans were a stark break with former President Barack Obama’s approach and what was once a bipartisan consensus to devise a path to citizenship for some of the nation’s undocumented immigrants. Mr. Trump, whose campaign rallies featured chants of “build the wall,” has instead described many undocumented immigrants as criminals who must be found and forcibly removed from the United States.

“They’re setting out to unleash this deportation force on steroids, and local police will be able to run wild, so we’re tremendously concerned about the impact that could have on immigrants and families across the country,” said Joanne Lin, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “After today’s announcement, the fear quotient is going to go up exponentially.” [Continue reading…]

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Europe’s far-right leaders unite at dawn of the Trump era

Time reports: After a few weeks of reading online about Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency, Marco Kopping, a 36-year-old apprentice at a car-parts supplier near Frankfurt, decided to get involved in German politics. He had never sympathized with a political party before, let alone joined one. But in December he received his glossy membership card from Alternative for Germany (AfD), one of the far-right movements now riding the updraft from Trump’s ascent. What drove him, Kopping says, “was the feeling of a revolution.” He didn’t want to be left behind.

Across the European Union, politicians on the right-wing fringe have been invigorated by Trump’s victory, which has given them a chance to attract new supporters, build coalitions and argue that, despite the often-glaring differences between them, they are all part of a movement with seemingly unstoppable momentum.

The most striking proof yet of that movement came on Saturday in the cross-section of far-right populists who met for the first time, at the AfD’s invitation, at a convention in the German city of Koblenz. A day after Trump’s Inauguration, the stars of the European right drew a direct line between Trump’s success at the ballot box and their own looming electoral battles. [Continue reading…]

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Millions join women’s marches in an historic international rebuke of Donald Trump

 

The Washington Post reports: Millions of women gathered in Washington and cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became a historic international rebuke of new president that packed cities large and small — from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia.

In Chicago, the demonstration was overwhelmed by its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march when the crowd threatened to swamp the planned route.

The Washington organizers, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday that as many as a half million people participated. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: By early afternoon, the number of people who had taken Metro Saturday was approaching half a million, Metro said.

More than 470,000 people had taken Metro by 1 p.m. Saturday, in what officials say is an unprecedented number of riders for a weekend. The crowds surpassed the ridership on Inauguration Day, and even ridership on a regular weekday. [Continue reading…]

 

USA Today reports: According to a sister march webpage, an estimated 2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries, from Belarus to New Zealand — with the largest taking place in Washington.

The crowds were so large in some cities that marching was almost impossible. In Chicago, organizers halted the march and rallied at Grant Park instead as crowds swelled to 150,000, although thousands still marched. In New York City, the number was 200,000; in Boston, media reported more than 100,000 people marching in Boston Common. In Oakland, Calif., police estimated that about 60,000 people took part in the women’s march. San Francisco’s rally was scheduled to begin at 3 pm local time, with a march at 5 pm.

In D.C., the huge crowds come a day after empty space was spotted on the National Mall ahead of Trump’s inauguration speech and bare bleachers were noticeable along the inaugural parade route. [Continue reading…]

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Human Rights Watch: Trump, European populists foster bigotry, discrimination

Human Rights Watch: The rise of populist leaders in the United States and Europe poses a dangerous threat to basic rights protections while encouraging abuse by autocrats around the world, Human Rights Watch said today in launching its World Report 2017. 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 postwar human rights system at risk.

Meanwhile, strongman leaders in Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, and China have substituted their own authority, rather than accountable government and the rule of law, as a guarantor of prosperity and security. These converging trends, bolstered by propaganda operations that denigrate legal standards and disdain factual analysis, directly challenge the laws and institutions that promote dignity, tolerance, and equality, Human Rights Watch said.

In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights not as an essential check on official power but as an impediment to the majority will.

“The rise of populism poses a profound threat to human rights,” Roth said. “Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism. 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.”

Roth cited Trump’s presidential campaign in the US as a vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance. He said that Trump responded to those discontented with their economic situation and an increasingly multicultural society with rhetoric that rejected basic principles of dignity and equality. His campaign floated proposals that would harm millions of people, including plans to engage in massive deportations of immigrants, to curtail women’s rights and media freedoms, and to use torture. Unless Trump repudiates these proposals, his administration risks committing massive rights violations in the US and shirking a longstanding, bipartisan belief, however imperfectly applied, in a rights-based foreign policy agenda. [Continue reading…]

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The energized far right is likely to grow with or without Trump’s support

The Guardian reports: Donald Trump will disappoint and disillusion his far-right supporters by eschewing white supremacy, according to some of the movement’s own intellectual leaders.

Activists who recently gave Nazi salutes and shouted “hail Trump” at a gathering in Washington will revolt when the new US president fails to meet their expectations, the leaders told the Guardian.

The prospect of such disillusion and internecine squabbling may console liberals who fear a White House tinged with racism and quasi-fascism. All the more reassuring because it comes from far-right influencers and analysts, not wishful progressives.

Instead of enjoying proximity to power, according to this analysis, vocal parts of the loose coalition known as the “alt-right” could remain on the political fringe, wondering what happened to their triumph.

“Their hearts are bigger than their brains,” said Mark Weber, who runs the Institute for Historical Review, an organisation dedicated to exposing “Jewish-Zionist” power. “Saying they want to be the intellectual head of the Trump presidency is delusional.”

Jared Taylor, a white supremacist who runs the self-termed “race-realist” magazine American Renaissance, said the president-elect had already backpedalled on several pledges that had fired up the far-right. “At first he promised to send back every illegal immigrant. Now he is waffling on that.”

David Cole, a self-proclaimed Holocaust revisionist and Taki magazine columnist, envisaged the movement sliding into bickering and in-fighting, stuck in “rabbit warrens” of online trolling rather than policy shaping.

“In January Trump will start governing and will have to make compromises. Even small ones will trigger squabbles between the ‘alt-right’. ‘Trump betrayed us.’ ‘No, you’re betraying us for saying Trump betrayed us.’ And so on. The alt-right’s appearance of influence will diminish more and more as they start to fight amongst themselves.”

In an email interview Peter Brimelow, founder of the webzine Vdare.com, which alleges Mexican plots to remake the US, said Trump’s failure to deliver “important bones” could trigger a backlash. “I think the right of the right is absolutely prepared to revolt. It’s what they do.”

There is, however, a catch: Weber, Taylor and Brimelow – all classified as “extremists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – said Trump’s victory energised the far-right and that the movement can grow with or without White House help. [Continue reading…]

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