Sunday, May 29, 2016
It hardly needs saying that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump does not care one whit about human rights, in the US or elsewhere. This is a man who called for the torture of innocent family members of Isis terrorists, supported "punishment" for women who have an abortion, and wants to rid the US of Muslims --positions that put him far outside what was once the conservative mainstream. But while it goes without saying, if there's one thing that we should learn from the campaign so far it is that we can't presume that others will recognize the human rights violations apparent in so many of Trump's statements and positions. It is good to see, then, that human rights leaders are increasingly ready speak up and call Trump out for his outrageous rhetoric and dangerous positions. In several speeches, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, the UN High Commission on Human Rights, has decried the racial and religious divisions deliberately flamed by candidate Trump. In May, former President Jimmy Carter spoke to the New York Times and condemned Trump for waging a campaign mired in bigotry and human rights violations.
The rest of us may not have the sorts of platforms that a UN High Commissioner or a former President can command, but we also have an obligation to speak up -- in our blogs and tweets, in op eds, in the talks we give and the programs we put on in our home institutions. We know by now that shocked silence in the face of candidate Trump's statements and proposals does nothing to illuminate the issues or to hold Trump accountable for his positions. And at this point in the election season, with these outrageous positions voiced by the nominee of one of the major parties, silence is dangerously close to complicity.