According to Human Rights Watch, who released their 2017 World Report this week, this year might be even worse than we are expecting. They wrote:
“We begin the year full of anxiety about the state of the world: the deeply disturbing increase in divisive behavior and policies, and outright hatred; the attacks against fundamental human rights, particularly of those already vulnerable; and the continued widespread failure to ensure fair access to resources, prosperity and economic security for all.”
They warned that populist leaders such as Donald Trump (yes, they mention him by name) pose a “dangerous threat” to human rights that could spread around the world. In the report, they say:
“These converging trends, bolstered by propaganda operations that denigrate legal standards and disdain factual analysis, directly challenge the laws and institutions that promote dignity, tolerance, and equality… Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism. They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change, or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny.”
And they confirm public discontent and continued inequality fuels the rage.
“The appeal of the populists has grown with mounting public discontent over the status quo. In the West, many people feel left behind by technological change, the global economy, and growing inequality. Horrific incidents of terrorism generate apprehension and fear. Some are uneasy with societies that have become more ethnically, religiously and racially diverse. There is an increasing sense that governments and the elite ignore public concerns.”
They issue this candid warning:
“We forget at our peril the demagogues of yesteryear—the fascists, communists, and their ilk who claimed privileged insight into the majority’s interest but ended up crushing the individual. When populists treat rights as an obstacle to their vision of the majority will, it is only a matter of time before they turn on those who disagree with their agenda.”