Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got the United States called out by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The committee's function is to help member nations remain in compliance with the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In that capacity, its membership of 18 human rights experts issued a highly unusual decision letter regarding the events in Charlottesville. In announcing the letter today, CERD called on "high-level politicians and public officials, to unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country." 

The decision does not mention Trump by name--but he is essentially the only "high-level politician" in the government of the United States whose condemnation of the racist violence was qualified and conditional. The Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Vice-President and virtually every member of the Senate all gave statements specifically tying the terrorist violence directly to the hate groups that had committed it.

Formal decisions like this are rare. In the last ten years, CERD has issued them to only five other countries: Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Iraq, and Kyrgyzstan. 

Why is this a bad thing?

  • A president who manages to single-handedly drag the United States government's reputation for human rights protections down to the level of Kyrgyzstan and Burundi is a disgrace.
  • It matters whether other countries believe that the United States cares about human rights and opposes racial discrimination.
  • There are real consequences to a president being unable to offend white supremacist supporters.