Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The watchdog group reports that Trump led the way among a growing group of nationalist politicians in attacking the principles of equality and dignity. (Photo: mathiaswasik/flickr/cc)

Trump's "Poisonous" Rhetoric Made World "Darker, Unstable": Amnesty

'The big question in 2017 will be how far the world lets atrocities go before doing something about them'

Nadia Prupis

President Donald Trump has made the world a "darker...unstable place" with his campaign rhetoric, Amnesty International said Wednesday, calling his xenophobic language "divisive and poisonous."

In its annual report on the state of the world, the international human rights watchdog said Trump led the way among a growing group of nationalist politicians in attacking the principles of equality and dignity.

"Donald Trump's poisonous campaign rhetoric exemplifies a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics," the group said, adding that his actions in his first month in office "suggest a foreign policy that will significantly undermine multilateral cooperation and usher in a new era of greater instability and mutual suspicion."

That includes issuing executive orders banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. and vowing a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities.

Amnesty described 2016 as the year that "the cynical use of 'us vs. them' narratives of blame, hate, and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s," when Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany. The group's report underscores recent findings from other organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.

"Today's politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others, stripping away the humanity of entire groups of people."
—Salil Shetty,
Amnesty International

"Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary-general. Whether it is Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, "more and more politicians calling themselves anti-establishment are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats, and dehumanizes entire groups of people."

"Today's politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others, stripping away the humanity of entire groups of people. This threatens to unleash the darkest aspects of human nature," he said.

But the trend has spread throughout the world, with countries known for their higher levels of tolerance turning increasingly authoritarian in policy and culture, the report found.

Shetty pointed to France's use of its state of emergency, implemented after a high-profile 2015 attack, to roll back civil liberties, ban protests, and place hundreds of people—mostly Muslims—under house arrest.

"Even states that once claimed to champion rights abroad are now too busy rolling back human rights at home to hold others to account," Amnesty said. "The more countries backtrack on fundamental human rights commitments, the more we risk a domino effect of leaders emboldened to knock back established human rights protections."

Likewise, the world in 2016 "turned a blind eye to war crimes, pushed through deals that undermine the right to claim asylum, passed laws that violate free expression, incited murder of people simply because they are accused of using drugs, justified torture and mass surveillance, and extended draconian police powers," the report continued.

"The big question in 2017 will be how far the world lets atrocities go before doing something about them."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Exactly Right': Progressives Back Arizona Dems Censure of Sinema

"If you are a Democrat and you can't uphold the fundamental right to vote for all citizens... then there's a problem," said Rep. Ro Khanna.

Brett Wilkins ·


Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·


Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·


Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo