So much for human rights

Human Rights Watch has bumped the US up on its list of global threats. Why? Trump, of course.

Eight days before Mr. Trump is to be sworn in as president, the human-rights advocacy group declared that his path to power, in a campaign marked by “misogynistic, xenophobic and racist rhetoric,” could “cause tremendous harm to vulnerable communities, contravene the United States’ core human rights obligations, or both.”

HRW rebuked the Bush administration over torture, but like everyone who is paying attention, they see Trump as far worse.

Kenneth Roth, the organization’s executive director, said in an interview: “This is a more fundamental threat to human rights than George Bush after 9/11. I see Trump treating human rights as a constraint on the will of the majority in a way that Bush never did.”

Mr. Roth cited a familiar list of policies Mr. Trump embraced during the campaign: mass deportations of unauthorized immigrants, a ban on Muslims’ entering the United States, and an openness to reintroducing techniques like waterboarding. Mr. Trump has since expressed second thoughts about torture, after a meeting with Gen. James N. Mattis, his nominee for defense secretary, who told him it was ineffective.

Mr. Trump’s seeming change of heart did not console Mr. Roth, because the president-elect said he would still consider ordering the use of these techniques “if that’s what the American people want.” Mr. Roth said this suggested to him that Mr. Trump would place himself, and his interpretation of the public will, above laws or treaties forbidding torture.

To me it also suggests that Trump changes his mind depending on who talked to him last, and that there is nothing in him that rejects the idea of torture as a matter of conscience. Trump very clearly has no working conscience at all, and he’s not nearly clever enough to simulate one.

HRW sees Trump as part of the populist wave.

Populist leaders are less susceptible to “naming and shaming,” the traditional way human rights groups pressure countries engaged in abuses, he said. Some leaders — like the new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has ordered the execution of thousands of suspected drug dealers — revel in their flouting of rules and norms.

Yes. I suppose that’s why I do so much shaming of the other kind – because we know he does react to insults to his ego. He’s proud of being an evil bastard; he’s probably not proud of sounding like a bratty child whenever he opens his mouth.

Mr. Trump’s rise poses another problem for Human Rights Watch. Much of its advocacy has focused on pressing the United States to use its influence to curb human-rights abuses abroad. If the Trump administration is not receptive to these efforts, Mr. Roth said, the United States will cease to play that role.

Oh, I don’t think there’s any “if” there. I don’t think there’s any way a Trump administration could possibly use its influence to curb human-rights abuses abroad, not with the bully in chief calling the shots.

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