The Trump Administration
What we have seen from the Trump administration in the past few days is nothing short of frightening. The executive orders issued by the President of the United States banning people from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States (as well as those with dual citizenship from those nations) have sent shockwaves around the world.
With the widespread news coverage of Trump’s decision, it is unnecessary to go into great detail in this newsletter about the reaction and response. What I plan to do is reiterate the underlying concern facing the world: the rise of populist right-wing nationalism.
Global effect with Trump.
Right-wing nationalist forces in various countries have grown at unprecedented rates since the Global Financial Crisis. On top of Trump, a number of political parties are using fear, violence, immigration, and the scapegoating of minorities to drum up support in tough economic times. In Greece, the fascist Golden Dawn party has 18 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. In Finland, the right-wing Finns Party is now the third largest party in the Finnish Parliament. In France, Marine Le Pen is mounting a significant campaign with the National Front party in the upcoming elections. Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom are gaining traction in the Netherlands and are currently leading the polls ahead of this year’s election. The Brexit vote even saw the UK take a turn towards the far right of politics, with immigration being the leading issue. Here in Australia, even One Nation made a worrying return to the political spotlight, with Pauline Hanson constantly using xenophobia and fear of immigration to garner support.
This newsletter generally steers clear of denouncing certain political views, as a broad range of perspectives is important in a healthy democracy. However, the growth of anti-immigration and xenophobic parties and political ideologies is worrying and needs to be flagged as concerning in the current political climate in Australia. The concern with the growth of these forces is not only the way that it mirrors the situation in post WWI Germany, but the effect such movements have on the cohesion of communities in multicultural countries such as our own. When someone can get elected as President of the United States on a platform of building a wall, banning Muslim immigration, espousing blatant sexism, and pursuing an anti-free trade economic agenda, other nations need to take note of the need to offer alternatives to such rhetoric. Introducing fear and division into a society does not result in a prosperous community. It is hoped that the Greens and the Labor Party can continue to hold the Government to account, particularly noting the strength of the far right elements within it (Abetz, Bernardi, Christensen, etc). A multicultural Australia that is inclusive and respects the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers should be the goal for this country, not something to demonise.
Trumps unprecedented executive orders.
Trump’s executive orders may have shocked many in Australia, but any outcry must be considered in context of the draconian refugee policies both political parties support to this day in Australia. Not only are detention centres permitted to exist, they are promoted by people like Immigration Minister Peter Dutton while detainees suffer serious mental harm. Anyone here in Australia who speaks out against the Trump administration’s decision must also mention our treatment of asylum seekers in the same breath.
The situation may appear dire at the moment, but the fact remains that there are people out there, like our CEO, dedicating their entire lives to the protection of refugees and asylum seekers; there is still hope going forward. If you are interested in some further reading, a progressive movement is growing in Europe with an alternative agenda that challenges the right-wing xenophobic response to the failings of neo-liberalism within the European economic crisis. This movement is called Democracy in Europe and offers some interesting insights as to how similar movements can grow around the world: https://diem25.org/
James Gounis, Lawyer
BCom, BLaws (Newcastle), Grad Dipl. Legal Practice (College of Law)