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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."


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