Bridges Not Walls

Today, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama left the White House, and Donald Trump was sworn in. I’ve already starting seeing the posts telling those of us are vocally upset here in the UK to get over it because it won’t impact us. If only that were true.

On a purely practical level, America has a lot of impact across the globe.

NATO has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for over 60 years. But there are fears about it’s stability, after Trump attacked the organisation as obsolete. NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means…this is what Trump views as obsolete. America spends more on defense than any other NATO member, meaning an American exit from the agreement could have heavy impact financially on other members. Including the UK.

Instead of NATO and it’s members, Trump appears keen to forge closer ties with Russia. He has praised Putin as a strong leader. Russia’s brutal anti-gay legislation, tough laws against foreign nationals reporting on human rights from inside Russia, environmental destruction, vote-rigging, murders of foreign journalists and jailing of activists makes them an unnerving bedfellow for the world’s largest super power.

Trump has threatened to scrap a number of existing free trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico, which he blames for job losses. He has also suggested withdrawing the US from the World Trade Organization.

Trump has spoken about dismantling Obama’s deal with Iran that prevented the country from pursuing nuclear weapons. He has suggested Japan and South Korea should have their own nuclear weapons, while dismissing concerns that North Korea may soon be testing long-range missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.

President Trump has said that he will “cancel” the Paris Climate Agreement within 100 days of taking office and will do everything in his power to reverse climate change regulations introduced by President Obama. He has repeatedly denied the science of human-caused climate change, describing it as “fictional’.

Still nothing to worry about?

 

Even without global impact, we should surely care about those in the USA who are having their rights threatened.

Within hours of the inauguration, whitehouse.gov underwent a radical change. Pages on LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change and health care have been removed. Instead, pages ignoring climate change, calling for more police in black neighbourhoods, and sharing false statistics on inner city crime went up in their place. The Affordable Care Act is under threat. In the days after Trump’s election, hate crimes surged in the USA. The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report identifying 867 incidents of harassment and intimidation between November 9 and November 18. Many of those incidents involved harassers invoking Trump’s name. The attacks included anti-LGBT, anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-semitic, and anti-Muslim related incidents.

Even if it isn’t on our soil, we should care about this. A strong message has been sent that hate wins.

 

It’s easy to despair. But there is hope. A movement sprung up today. Bridges Not Walls dropped banners around the world on iconic bridges. The website says, “We will build bridges, not walls, to a peaceful and just world rid of oppression and hatred.”

Let’s leave the last words to Obama n his final tweets as POTUS, who launched the Obama Foundation in a video with Michelle. “I’m still asking you to believe – not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. I believe in change because I believe in you.” #yeswecan