By Sabria S. Jawhar
14 November 2016
It has been a long time in coming, but we are finally witnessing the consequences of the reckless actions of politicians. Draconian laws, border fences, a retrenching of the white middle class in the West, rejection of globalization, and the herculean but doomed efforts to turn back the clock have given us a fractured world.
Recent history tells us that Osama Bin Laden helped start the free fall we are now experiencing. Typically, but unsurprisingly (and I certainly empathize), the United States reacted badly to the 9/11 attacks and embarked on an ill-advised war against Iraq.
Former US President George W. Bush began the “crusade” against terrorism that killed thousands of civilians and created a whole new generation of terrorists. The American voter allowed Bush to remain in office for eight years before electing the polar opposite, Barack Obama, who has done nothing but be a passive observer in the destruction of the Middle East and North Africa from Egypt to Libya to Syria.
Whatever faults Obama possesses with his foreign policy he still managed to strengthen America’s domestic policies by introducing Obamacare, creating jobs following a disastrous recession and accomplished much to make America a better place to live. But his race was too much for the American political establishment. Never mind that he won a mandate from American voters. The Republican-controlled Congress and Senate demonized Obama over eight years and effectively blocked much of his agenda. It wasn’t because he was a socialist, because he wasn’t. Republicans could never make that an effective argument. But whenever the word “socialist” was used it was really a code for “black” and having a black man in office was too much to bear.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Brexit allows Britons to go it alone by rejecting the open borders of the European Union. France enacts dress codes for one religion that makes a mockery of its democratic values. And just about every European country save Germany wants to strengthen its borders to refuse entry to war refugees.
The election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States is the result of 9/11, the Iraq war, racism and closed borders.
The signs have always been there that has led the American public to elect Trump and marginalize religious and ethnic minorities. Trump’s campaign initially promoted racist and misogynic behaviour. He has given a license to overturn the gains minorities and women have made in the past 40 years. And don’t think it is limited to the United States; in fact populism is on the rise in every part of the world, particularly in the West.
The rise of Trump, the Brexit vote and a surge in Marine Le Pen’s popularity in France signal the dawn of a new era in global politics.
Today, we are paying the price for Bin Laden’s quest to create war between the East and the West and for Bush’s adventurism.
These are not isolated events, but are the result of recklessness of men (and some women; read Sarah Palin) who believe that the demonization of the “other” will rally whites to reclaim the power that they once had but will never achieve again.
It was inevitable that we reached this tragic place in history. We often submit to our baser instincts when threatened, whether it is the loss of a job or the fear of a terrorist attack. But I truly believe that we are a better people than what we have seen at Trump’s and Tea Party’s rallies, than the murderous jihadists on the streets of Paris, than the institutionalized discrimination of minorities.
But I also believe that we can’t stand idly by and watch the destruction of the sacred institutions that work to protect its citizens. It is more important than ever that we support those activists who are committed to building a better world.
Sabria S. Jawhar, is an assistant professor of Applied and Educational Linguistics at Languages & Cultural Studies Department, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA).