The election of Donald Trump was a step backwards for human rights, unity, diversity, multiculturalism and respect for each other.
Many who opposed Trump did so because of his platform of racism and bigotry. Trump had few policies, yet he appealed to a mass of people who believed his hype about 'Make America Great Again' and that somehow America had lost its greatness because of minority groups, migrants and the poor.
Typical of right-wing politicians, the scapegoating was unleashed in earnest. Trump threatened to deport millions of 'illegal' migrants, to ban Muslim migration, to build a wall to keep out Mexicans and attacked black people in numerous ways(1), including criticising the Black Lives Matter movement, accusing black people of being lazy and having greater rights than whites.
Since becoming President-elect, much of the threats that the anti-Trump brigade warned about have already become reality, with Trump choosing white nationalists and racists to lead his transition team(2), including:
- Stephen Bannon, a racist, white supremacist, anti-Semite, who runs the nationalist website, breitbart.com, appointed as Chief Strategist(3)
- Myron Ebell, a climate denier, who has actively worked against the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change, appointed to head the environmental transition team(4)
- Stephen Mnuchin, a man who led a bank accused of racist lending, to be Treasury Secretary(5)
- Jeff Sessions, another accused of racism, to be Attorney-General(6)
There were western countries who used internment camps during the Second World War for Japanese and others who we were at war with. But the west is not at war with Islam.
Just a reminder of the politician who set the benchmark for internment camps and registers, Adolf Hitler. When he came to power, he immediately set about creating internment camps in which those he disliked were held, including Communists, Unionists, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and other 'dissidents'. He also created a register of Jews which was later used to round up Jews and freight them off to concentration camps during the war.
Hitler never started with the premise of massacring all of those held in his concentration camps. It wasn't until his failed invasion of the Soviet Union which had been undertaken to secure the agricultural land in the Ukraine and southern parts of the Soviet Union. It was his plan that this food-bowl would feed his soldiers and ultimately, Germany. The failure of the invasion resulted in wide-spread food shortages. He couldn't feed his own people, let alone the prisoners-of-war and the Jews and dissidents held in his concentration camps. Soviet POWs were allowed to starve. The Jews and dissidents in concentration camps? Well, that is when the Nazi machine settled on the Final Solution which resulted in the extermination of millions(8).
Why is it so important to invoke Godwin's law and drag up history like this?
Trump is appointing white supremacists, nationalists and racists. They are discussing very similar strategies that Hitler discussed and implemented. While it is highly unlikely that Trump is planning a genocide akin to the Final Solution, it needs to be understood that Hitler wasn't planning one either when he initially started the concentration camps. In fact, he was looking at ways to deport the Jews and others, similar to what Trump is already espousing with Muslims and migrants. It is ethnic cleansing, with the aim to make America as white as possible.
So where are the Christians in all of this? Why aren't they calling out Trump's Hitleresque policies? Well, some of them are wearing white hoods. The Ku Klux Klan who claim to be Christian, endorsed and actively supported the Trump campaign(9). The religious right believe that Trump is appointed by God, with some even believing Pat Robertson's vision of Trump sitting at the right hand of God(10) - Trump has usurped Jesus who used to also sit on the right hand of God. Apparently, it is more important that homosexuals can't marry, than it is to wage a campaign of ethnic cleansing throughout the land. Interestingly, this is not unlike the Christians in Hitler's time, who also believed that the land needed cleansing of communists, Jews and homosexuals.
One of the reasons that Christians felt led to vote for Trump was that political correctness was an attack on Christian values(11). Really? The values they are defending are hardly Christian. Those values included attacking LGBTIQ people, Islam, migrants and defending the wealthy over the poor(12).
Respected German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer once stated, 'We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but to drive a spoke into the wheel itself'. It's a little hard for Christians to stop the wheels of injustice, when they're aligning themselves to the power source that keeps those wheels churning along. Bonhoeffer also observed, 'Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power'. These words were true when Bonhoeffer observed them in relation to Christians supporting Hitler and they are true today as Christians support Trump.
Instead of driving a spoke into the wheel of bigotry and xenophobia, the religious right are more interested in defending the right to be racist than in opposing racism. They claim they want religious freedom, but then campaign to ban Islam and to start a Muslim registry. Their idea of religious freedom only extends to their twisted version of Christianity.
Until Trump takes the helm in January 2017, it is difficult to know how much of his racist rhetoric will be implemented.
Disturbingly, Australia has decided that the lessons to be learned from the Trump ascendancy are that politicians need to embrace right wing hate in order to garner their support.
Proud racist, Pauline Hanson has already aligned herself with the Trump bandwagon. No great surprise there as she has always been in white nationalist territory.
Most surprising however, was Labor leader Bill Shorten, suddenly spruiking of an Australia First policy, similar to Trump's America First. Shorten confined his jingoism to jobs, criticising the issuing of 457 visas and sending of jobs overseas.
Less surprising was the Liberal Party who has been courting One Nation policies since the first rise of Hanson in the 1990s. Some of the Liberal Party's most vocal MPs include Cory Bernardi and George Christensen who manage to dupe the religious right into believing they're good, God-fearing Christians while unleashing hate-filled diatribes against Muslims and other minorities. Nothing says KKKristianity like ethnic-cleansing.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, then continued the Liberal Party's go-to position of attacking refugees. Whenever the Libs are looking to garner support, it's on the basis of demonisation and scapegoating of refugees and asylum seekers, with an unhealthy dose of Islamophobia thrown in. That's one way to win the electorate over - and sadly it works. The Libs usually blame Labor for the refugee 'crisis'; a crisis that was invented by the Liberal Party to whip up fear and play on the xenophobia of the electorate. In a somewhat unexpected move though, Dutton has now turned the blame to former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, also of the Liberal Party, accusing his policies of being to blame for a number of 'descendants of those refugees' going to fight in foreign conflicts, such as for ISIS(13). Dutton has provided no evidence of this other than a blanket statement aimed at stirring up more xenophobia. It is dog-whistling. But that is what the Liberal Party is best at.
So what if Dutton is telling the truth? Does it represent a failure of immigration policy? Clearly the refugees who were brought in from Lebanon didn't return to fight in these wars, nor did they drive terrorism against Australia. If their descendants have engaged in this, then it is more a failure of Australia's acceptance of migrants. It shows the importance of accepting and welcoming communities, of policies of inclusion and not exclusion. Besides, the reasons for fighting with ISIS are somewhat different to the reasons that Australia brought Lebanese refugees in. Dutton is conflating two separate issues purely for populist politics. The creation of ISIS was a direct result of the USA's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Australia was a part of. With Saddam Hussein out of the way, Al Qaeda in Iraq moved in and morphed into what is now ISIS. There are some who believe this invasion was an attack on Islam and this is fuelled by the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has permeated global politics for years. Dutton should look at his own party's attitudes and actions which have motivated some Australians to fight for ISIS in what they see as a way of defending their faith against western aggression.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights recently stated that Australia's migration policies had 'eroded human rights and tarnished Australia's reputation'. He went on to state that 'politicians who have engaged in this negative discourse seem to have given permission to people on the street to act in xenophobic ways and to allow for the rise of nationalist populist groups'(14).
The rise of extremist groups that include neo-Nazis, racists, fascists, nationalists and white supremacists is a poor indictment on the policies of the right-wing.
Where will all this end?
While right-wing policies continue to empower anti-Muslim, anti-migrant, anti-refugee sentiment, the world will continue on a road to fascism, nationalism and white supremacy.
How will all this end?
Unless we reign this in now, it won't end well. History has shown us what happens when the government is driven by an agenda of hate and scapegoating.
When will it end?
When people realise that we are all one community who have similar values, similar goals, pursuing happiness, health and love.
While there may be cultural or religious differences, we all have a right to exist and no one holds the monopoly on morality or superiority, and no government should establish one group of people as being superior or more worthy than another, whether it be by religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or other identifiers.
Rather than driving an agenda of hate and intolerance, the government should be encouraging love, respect, tolerance, unity within diversity, understanding, sharing and compassion.
1. The Huffington Post, Zeba Blay, '12 Reasons Donald Trump Would Not Be Good for 'Blacks' ', 12 March 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/8-reasons-donald-trump-would-not-be-great-for-the-blacks_us_56e0729fe4b065e2e3d47e82. Accessed 19 November 2016.
2. Time, Eric Pooley, 'Trump's Transition Team is Straight From The Swamp', 16 November 2016, http://time.com/4571896/trump-transition-team/. Accessed 19 November 2016.
3. ABC News, 'US election: Who is Donald Trump's new chief strategist Steve Bannon', 15 November 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-15/who-is-donald-trump's-new-chief-strategist-steve-bannon/8026140. Accessed 19 November 2016.
4. The Huffington Post, Jeremy Symons, 'Meet Trump's Pick to Dismante EPA', 11 June 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-symons/meet-trumps-pick-to-disma_b_12832350.html. Accessed 19 November 2016
5. The Huffington Post, Alexander C. Kaufman, 'Bank Led By Trump's Top Treasury Contender Accused of Racist Lending', 17 November 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/donald-trump-steven-mnuchin-onewest_us_582cd7c0e4b099512f80c198. Accessed 19 November 2016.
6. The Huffington Post, Ryan J. Reilly, 'Trump Picks Jeff Sessions, Senator Accused of Racism, For Attorney General', 18 November 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/11/18/trump-picks-jeff-sessions-senator-accused-of-racism-for-attorn/. Accessed 19 November 2016.
7. The New York Times, Jonah Engel Bromwich, 'Trump Camp's Talk of Registry and Japanese Internment Raises Muslims' Fears', 17 November 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/us/politics/japanese-internment-muslim-registry.html. Accessed 19 November 2016.
8. Frankopan, Peter, 2015. The Silk Roads. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury.
9. Reuters, Mohammed Zargham, Jonathan Oatis, 'Ku Klux Klan newspaper declares support for Trump', 2 November 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-kkk-idUSKBN12X2IG. Accessed 19 November 2016.
10. The Business Standard News, Michael Hoult, 'Robertson Said He Had Vision of Trump Seated 'At the Right Hand of the Lord' ', 14 July 2016, http://bizstandardnews.com/2016/07/14/robertson-said-he-had-vision-of-trump-seated-at-the-right-hand-of-the-lord/. Accessed 19 November 2016.
11. LifeSite News, Jonathan van Maren, 'The painfully obvious reason Christians voted for Trump (that liberals just don't understand)', 14 November 2016, https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/the-painfully-simple-reason-christians-voted-for-donald-trump-that-liberals. Accessed 19 November 2016.
12. The Huffington Post, Tony Campolo, 'Explaining Evangelical's Support for Donald Trump', 14 July 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-campolo/explaining-evangelicals-s_b_10970796.html. Accessed 19 November 2016.
13. The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom McIlroy, 'Peter Dutton attacks Malcolm Fraser's refugee legacy', 18 November 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/peter-dutton-attacks-malcolm-frasers-refugee-legacy-20161117-gss2ad.html. Accessed 19 November 2016.
14. The Guardian, Helen Davidson, 'Australia's politicians have promoted xenophobia: UN', 18 November 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/nov/18/australias-immigration-policies-have-promoted-xenophobia-un-expert. Accessed 19 November 2016.