On Monday, United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein drew some pretty straight, parallel lines connecting the practicing ideologies of populist politicians such as Donald Trump and Dutch Geert Wilders to that of none other than their supposed greatest enemy, the Islamic State.
In particular, Zeid pulled out the common thread between them as having a knack for striking fear into “anxious” individuals through manipulation, lies, and half-truths.
Of Daesh’s relation to Trump, Wilders, United Kingdom’s Nigel Farage, France’s Marine Le Pen, and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Zeid explained it’s rooted in the shared goal of ethnic and religious homogeneity.
He said, “All seek in varying degrees to recover a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion. A past that most certainly, in reality, did not exist anywhere, ever.”
Moreover, he said the illusion these men create is founded quite simply. Zeid assessed it as a common method “to make your target audience feel good by offering up what is a fantasy to them, but a horrendous injustice to others.”
Zeid was careful to make the distinction between communication tactics and the actions of the two groups that he distinguished.
He continued, separating the likes of Trump from a direct comparison to Daesh, “I do not equate the actions of nationalist demagogues with those of Daesh, which are monstrous and sickening.”
However, Zeid did call these western politicians out as “nationalist demagogues,” so there’s always that.
Speaking in Geneva at the opening ceremony for the Peace, Justice, and Security Foundation, Zeid ranted against these right-wingers’ anti-Muslim policies, especially that of Wilders. Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’ popular Freedom Party who wishes to close all mosques, Islamic schools, and ban the Quran, thinks that “Islam and freedom are incompatible.”
Zeid is the first Muslim to serve as the U.N.’s human rights chief. This isn’t the first time he’s railed against western leaders’ bigoted rhetoric, though.
Back in April, when Zeid was speaking to a university audience in Cleveland, Ohio, he lambasted the Republican party candidate’s use of bigotry to earn himself votes.
He posed the important, but mostly depressing question, “Are we going to continue to stand by and watch this banalization of bigotry?” Some say “voting is the new jihad,” but in some cases, dare I, it might be better not to vote at all.
Owning a gun is also a Constitutional right, but that doesn’t mean I have one. What else can be done to stop the rampant spread of such thick hate?