“THEY aren’t coming to this country, if I am elected” was one of the pledges Donald Trump made on his campaign trail and that, unlike many others of his obnoxious promises — such as the Mexican wall — the American president dutifully implemented. No wonder, banning the entry into the US of people from seven (reduced to six later on) Muslim countries was one of the earliest decisions he made as president.
Recently, in keeping with his parochial bent of mind that he has made no attempt to disguise, the president extended executive clemency to four Blackwater security guards convicted for the cold-blooded murder of 14 (17 according to the Iraqi version) civilians in Baghdad in 2007 — an act condemned not just by the Iraqi people but by many Americans too, including Congressmen. “Our blood is cheaper than water”, said a Baghdad student, while retired US general, Mark Hertling, called the pardon “egregious and disgusting”, and added an apt rebuke: “Shame on you, Mr President!”
For pardoning those responsible for the crime at Baghdad’s Nisour Square, Mr Trump had two insular motives: first, the victims must be largely Muslim; second, Blackwater was headed by one of his close supporters. This partisan streak runs through the 15 people he extended clemency to in his misguided Christmas Eve generosity. Among the convicted felons he saved from the consequences of their crime are lawmakers and those who admitted lying to federal investigators during the probe into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. The three Congressmen pardoned by Mr Trump were termed as “most corrupt” by a rights watchdog.
Mr Trump’s attitude towards Muslims and his Latin American neighbours smacked of religious prejudice and unconscionable racism, while his xenophobic outbursts sometimes shocked his country’s allies in Europe, thus eroding the moral basis of America’s claim to world leadership. The Trump era will finally end on Jan 20, leaving the Democratic administration with the stupendous but thankless job of rehabilitating America’s image as an upholder of liberal, democratic values.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2020