Human Rights Watch, the organization that monitors rights in nation’s around the world released its annual report Thursday. A week before he even takes office, the report cites Donald Trump as a threat to human rights in the United States. From the New York Times:
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.
The HRW report has an entire section on Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. That section devotes a paragraph to all the controversies we’ve spent the last year discussing, including Trump’s statements about Judge Curiel and his response to allegations of sexual assault. However, the report quickly turns from Trump’s actual statements to an analysis that reads like a New York Times editorial:
To make matters worse, there was also a practical emptiness to much of his rhetoric. For example, a large part of his campaign was built around attacking trade deals and the global economy, but he also scapegoated undocumented migrants as responsible for stealing American jobs. Yet the mass deportation of migrants that he threatened, including of many with established ties in the United States and a record of contributing productively to the economy, will do nothing to bring back long-lost manufacturing jobs. US job growth continues to rise, but to the extent there is economic stagnation for some, it can hardly be blamed on undocumented migrants whose net numbers have not changed significantly in recent years and who are often willing to perform jobs that most US citizens will not.
Candidate Trump’s plan for confronting terrorism by Muslims was equally futile— even counterproductive—as he demonized the very Muslim communities whose cooperation is important for identifying tomorrow’s plots. He portrayed refugees as security risks even though they are subjected to far more thorough vetting than the vastly larger number of people entering the US for business, education, or tourism. Trump also showed no willingness to limit overbroad measures such as mass surveillance, an enormous invasion of privacy that has proven no more effective than judicially supervised, targeted surveillance.
Later on, in it’s section on human rights in the Unites States, HRW includes, in the list of reasons to be wary of Trump, political positions held by most Republicans:
President-elect Trump also pledged to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act, which has helped 20 million previously uninsured Americans access health insurance and to nominate “pro-life” Supreme Court justices who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade, which would allow individual states to criminalize abortion.
So, according to HRW, anyone who supports repeal of Obamacare or is pro-life is a threat to human rights. Good to know. Meanwhile, the report eventually gets to the U.S. use of drones. President Obama, who approves every target and is therefore directly responsible for the loss of life described here, barely gets a mention, much less a scolding:
The US continued to carry out targeted killings, often with the use of aerial drones, against alleged militants outside conventional war zones, including in Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia. In July 2016, the director of national intelligence released figures claiming that the US had killed between 64 and 116 “noncombatants” in such strikes since 2009, a figure that advocacy groups― including Human Rights Watch, which investigated several of the strikes―said appeared to significantly undercount the civilian lives lost. When the government released its figures, Obama issued an executive order promising to offer voluntary payments to survivors and families of civilians killed, without regard to the lawfulness of the strike. It is unclear whether the order has been implemented.
Someone on Twitter suggested this report is the opposite of the Nobel Peace Prize Obama won before he had done anything. It’s a signal about how a certain segment of the population feels rather than an assessment of any actual accomplishment (or failure). In sum, progressives are not happy about Donald Trump. Yes, we get it but maybe wait until he takes office before giving him failing marks.