Lots of people are furious with Trump. Across the world there have been colourful, clanging protests against him. Yet while the demos have been energetic and youthful, it’s sometimes not clear what they’re saying. Are they just against Trump, against his character and gruffness and the nasty things he’s said? Are they just against his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries?
In many ways, the unclear nature of the protests isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for now anyway. This is people finding their voice, in public, together. But in the interests of kicking off more discussion, here are spiked’s thoughts on some initial demands we might make of Trump.
Lift the global gag rule
Your reimposition of the Reagan-era ban on abortion talk by NGOs that receive US government funding is cruel. Preventing NGOs from offering counselling or referrals for abortion to women in the South is both an attack on NGO workers’ freedom of speech, their right to propagate ideas and practices they consider good, and a restriction on the ability of poor women to access knowledge and services related to abortion. It will cause hardship.
And if, as some observers believe, this reflects your antagonism to abortion rights at home too, then you have a serious fight on your hands. The right to choose is central to women’s autonomy. It is the right that allows them to have dominion over their bodies, and over their destinies. It underpins their equal footing to men in public life. To paraphrase John Stuart Mill, ‘Over herself and her own body, the individual is sovereign’. Keep your hands off abortion services.
Hands off Yemen
The first military raid you approved, in Yemen on Saturday, claimed the lives of 15 women and children. This barbarism must stop. Yes, you inherited it from Obama, who expanded America’s ‘war on terror’ from Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria, Yemen and Somalia. But you’re in charge now and have the power to say No, to refuse to approve raids and strikes that ostensibly target terrorist leaders and yet which continually kill civilians while doing little to weaken terrorism. In fact the problem of Islamist violence has grown.
The ‘war on terror’ has wrought authoritarianism at home too, with increased spying on citizens. You should wind this war down. Don’t back the Saudis in Yemen, withdraw from Iraq, and stop the funding and promotion of militant groups in Syria. If you’re serious about defeating Islamist terrorism, as you said in your inauguration address, then consider working with local forces like the Kurds, who have the know-how and commitment to take on ISIS.
Rescind the travel ban
Your temporary halt on taking refugees from Syria and your ban on travel to the US by the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries is unreasonable, and a prime example of the politics of fear.
No person inside the US has ever been killed in a terror attack by a citizen of any of those seven countries. And not one American — not one — has ever been killed by a terrorist who entered the US as a refugee. Yes, vetting new arrivals is important, and you might want to vet more thoroughly those arriving from warzones. But do not close your borders to certain nationalities. Be more open, more generous. Have enough confidence in American values to trust that newcomers will want to absorb them, if encouraged to.