Usually, I call him 45. Don’t want to feed the ego of a narcissist by calling out his name. But every shred of ignominy that is associated with this era needs to be associated with this putrid 45th President of the United States. So let’s call it, the Trump era. The era of indifference to human rights, the era of obduracy around international cooperation, the era of pugilism with our allies, the era of abdication of international leadership.
We are riveted by the harrowing sounds of children crying when they are torn from their parents, disgusted when we learn that even a nursing child is torn from her mother’s breast, disturbed when we hear that a child with Down syndrome is separated from her parent, angered when a Trump (yes, time to call his name) spokesperson mocks the child. And our collective anger pushed our unapologetic “leader” to sign an executive order that potentially stopped the separation of children from their parents.
At the same time, the international scandal minimized any moral authority our nation has in calling out others on human rights violations. The sound of wailing children makes it impossible for us to take a moral high road against any other country with their own human rights challenges. Thus, when U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that the nation would resign from the U.N. Human Rights Council, one had to wonder if she was avoiding approbation for the inhumanity toward children at the U.S.-Mexico border, or if she had another agenda. She said that she was resigning because the group was unfair to Israel, without acknowledging that there are extreme human rights violations toward Israel against Palestinians. Perhaps she was also removing the U.S. from a body that could censure us for the way children are treated at our border.
President Trump (yes, I’m going to call him by the name this time) has picked fights with anyone he can, isolating our country against our allies, aligning him with dictatorial opponents. He wants to be appreciated like Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, asking that people pay as much attention to him as they do to a man he once denigrated as “Little Rocket Man.” At the same time, he picks a fight against our Canadian and Mexican allies, our continental partners, because he is flexing his muscles and making the point that he does not need friends.
As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reported, 158 Canadians were killed and 658 wounded since the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Canadians sent their troops to fight alongside us. They didn’t have to. They did because there was a relationship, a connection. Now, Mr. Trump is ungratefully picking a fight with Canada over pennies in tariffs, just because he can. He is making an enemy, creating enmity, just because he can.
His behavior at the G-7 meeting in Canada was another alienating, isolating experience. He arrived late and left early, signaling disrespect, maybe even contempt, for his peers. He chafed when he was called on his nonsense and declined to sign the customary closing document. Without even attempting to give others advance notice, he suggested that his mentor (the kindest words I can manage), Russian leader Vladimir Putin, should be part of the G-7. Trump’s advocacy and behavior place him outside the orbit of reason. He is isolating himself — and our country — with his nonsense.
While the world has always been clear about our nation’s flaws, and we who live here are clear about our nation’s history of oppression, there was a time when we had some moral authority in the world. We chastised others about human rights violations, excoriated others when they strayed from the tenets of participatory democracy, bribed others to “do the right thing” with foreign aid that was connected to improvements in education and health offerings. We showed up at international conferences and meetings, chanting “women’s rights are human rights,” but now we see no attempt to embrace anybody’s rights. Donald Trump has isolated the United States from its human rights legacy and moral history. Donald Trump is an isolationist who has failed to understand the ways that our global connection has benefited us. In isolating us, what has Trump done? And what will we do about it?
Malveaux’s latest book, “Are We Better Off?: Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available via www.amazon.com.