Build bridges, not walls

  • post Type / Humanists International News
  • Date / 11 November 2016

IHEU statement on the US Presidential election

Trump photo mosaic

Part of a photo mosaic of Donald Trump, made from images of Muslim and Mexican men and women (info | source)

The International Humanist and Ethical Union is fundamentally aligned with equality — for women’s rights, for sexual minorities (LGBTI), against racism — and promoting genuine freedoms of thought and expression.

Donald Trump, President-elect of the USA, has consistently expressed his opposition to key rights in these areas. As Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association said yesterday:

“Worse than just thwarting the pace of progress, the next president is a true “regressive.” This regressive said, “I am pro-life, and I will appoint pro-life justices on the court.” This regressive said, in response to blasphemy laws, “No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

And this regressive said, “We’re going to protect Christianity, and I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct. We’re going to protect it.”

I’m terrified that so many voted to reverse the progress our community made under the Obama administration. From gaining marriage equality for LGBTQ Americans to preserving a woman’s right to choose, I had strong reason to believe that America was on the right path toward a better country for all, including humanists, atheists, and agnostics.

I don’t know what will happen in the next four years. But here’s what I do know: all of us at the American Humanist Association are going to fight back. We will not sit idle as our freedoms are gravely threatened.”

Whatever their individual politics on broader issues, humanists are already concerned about surging populism, about discrimination against the non-religious and the deterioration of secular freedoms, and about the broader feeling of ‘crisis’ that many sense is taking hold across much of the world.

The office of US President is not a concern limited only to Americans. The ramifications are truly international. The US is culturally and politically influential, and a predominant military power. As the most influential and powerful country in the world, the US continues to set precedents and has an impact on world affairs much greater than the size of its population. There is therefore real cause for concern, when we recall that President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly made remarks which imply a reticence to uphold existing treatises of mutual defense, has sketched out policies of economic isolationism, and has pledged to renegotiate or to scrap agreements on climate change and the environment.

While individual humanists may have various views on issues around foreign, economic and environmental policy, the direction of travel promised by Trump on international matters is clearly against internationalism and in favor of nationalist exceptionalism; against cooperation for mutual benefit between nations and in favor of narrow self-interest; and against the overwhelmingly corroborated scientific consensus on climate change.

Along with IHEU Member Organizations in the US — including American Atheists, American Ethical Union, American Humanist Association and Center for Inquiry — and IHEU members around the world, we will continue to advance humanist ideas and to resist bigotry and prejudice. On the international stage we will redouble our efforts in the promotion of universal human rights, we will continue to champion secularism and secular freedoms, and we will insist that the future must be one where – instead of building walls between ourselves and others – we work together for justice, peace, and the values of equality and human dignity.

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