In its annual report published Thursday, Human Rights Watch cited the election Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, along with the rise of populist politicians in Europe, as a grave threat to Western democracy and its system of values.
The more than 700-page report, which details human rights practices in more than 90 countries, claims Trump came to power by “fomenting hatred and intolerance,” and says Trump’s election reflects an “infatuation with strongman rule” seen in countries like China and Russia.
“Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism,” HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote. “They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change, or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny.”
In addition to Trump’s presidential campaign, Roth also says the decision Britain made to break away from the European Union was based on racism and intolerance.
According to the report, the threat to democracy arises when populist leaders convince citizens to scapegoat immigrants and minorities for problems like economic inequality and terrorist attacks. Citizens, the report says, grow to see their rights as dispensable because the rights are now protecting “these ‘other’ people, not themselves.”
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