Today in AHA Today, Mark Philip Bradley on
Human Rights in the Era of Trump
“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work—torture works,” then presidential candidate Donald Trump said at a February 2016 campaign event in Bluffton, South Carolina. “Okay, folks, torture—you know, half these guys [say]: ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ Believe me, it works, okay?” At the time, I was finishing my recent book on Americans and human rights in the 20th century, and Trump’s repeated defense of torture, like so many of his pronouncements, struck me as relics of the past. Like many, I did not see the Trump presidency coming. Now less than one week into his presidency we already have a draft executive order that would reopen the “black site” prisons where terrorist suspects were detained and tortured during the George W. Bush Administration. And on Friday, Trump issued an executive order that suspended entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and prohibited entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. Academics against Immigration Executive Order has rightly characterized the ban as “unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants” that “fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States.” The Trump presidency is unlikely to be remembered for its vigorous championing of human rights but it is already producing powerful forms of resistance that may put human rights center stage in the United States again. Why, again?