Opinion: Why the West should not follow Trump’s lead

Opinion: Why the West should not follow Trump's lead
US President-Elect Donald Trump. Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Journalist Edinah Masanga writes about why she thinks Donald Trump's election makes it even more important for Sweden to be a champion for human rights.

Yesterday morning I pulled back my curtains in opposite directions and from the window I could see a beautifully frozen lake and, lining its banks, a tapestry of naked trees whose leaves have succumbed to winter. It was freezing, of course, it's Sweden and that's business as usual but one thing was unmistakable: the place is a beauty.

Standing there in my window, I found myself thinking: I hope Sweden will never allow the dreadful thing happening in America on January 20th to happen here. I say dreadful because on that day, to the most powerful office on Earth will ascend a man who has openly boasted about his proclivities to sexual harassment, used racist rhetoric in his campaign, mocked physically challenged people and is so into himself that he had to defend the size of his hands because of a legend that a man's hands reflect the size of his manly gadget. So petty. And so unfit in my eyes.

Sensationalists like Donald Trump, and others like him, push an unrealistic notion of purity of races which I find to be a retrogressive kind of thinking which assumes that the world is moving backward into the past centuries rather than forward. In my opinion, it's impossible to maintain pure race societies (especially by settlement) in this day and age because of, among other things, the advent of technology and its continued advancement which has made many things possible, specifically, faster travel, easy communication and global interaction.

There were no netizens in the nearby 70s before Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in the 80s. It was not possible, for example, for someone in my village in a small area in Zimbabwe to be curious about, say, Sweden. It wasn't possible for someone in South Africa to hook up with another person in, say, America. The world was less connected, and less in touch, than it is today. So, this perception of intrusion because of mixed societies which people like Trump thrive on is intellectually bankrupt at best.

Statistics Sweden reported that Sweden's exports for 2016 amounted to 643.9 billion kronor of which 440.7 billion was to non-EU member states. Money which came in from trade with other countries. Of course, these statistics are numbers on paper but behind those numbers are people with blood in their veins who buy these things. I use Sweden as an example to show that countries, today, exist in an ecosystem world where life elsewhere is made possible by life elsewhere.

The world order that was created by the world superpowers created inter-dependability but also created instability in other parts of the world which resulted in increased numbers of people displaced by conflict; America and France led a campaign to dislodge Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and instead of bringing peace into that country they brought more chaos and opened Libyan borders for human trafficking into Europe; America embarked on an Iraqi war which created a breeding ground for the current Syrian crisis, to name a few.

So, while helpless refugees are an easy scapegoat for Trump and his brigade, their displacement is not of their own making, it is partly the consequences of the actions that countries like America take abroad. But of course, Trump won't say it, he has shown a proclivity to bully the weak, hasn't he?

As a feminist, Donald Trump's ascension to power is a double-edged sword because as much as it is an indictment of human dignity, it is also a slap in the face of all efforts made to advance equality between sexes because of his views on women's reproductive rights which he prefers to be restricted. His words also champion an outdated notion of female submission and male dominance.

Trump has openly shown himself to be against all the values that progressive democracies stand for. And it is in that vein that no other Western democracies should be tempted to follow suit. Because, Western democracies, with all their blemishes, have of course shone a beacon of liberty and freedom on the rest of the world.

Western democracies champion international human rights which, indeed, have helped create open societies and in fact, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights preambles with “the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” as a “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. But then enter Trump…

Edinah Masanga is a Zimbabwean journalist living in Sweden. Follow her on Twitter or read her blog here.

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