FORMER IRISH PRESIDENT Mary Robinson says that Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of certain countries from entering the US has “upset a balance globally”.
Describing what is happening in America at present as “chilling”, Robinson said that it is “also worrying because it is not going to make America any safer”. “This may just act as a recruitment tool for Isis and make things worse.”
In an interview with RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Robinson was speaking in her role as a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders, founded by Nelson Mandela, and working in their own words towards “peace and human rights”.
“The trouble is this ban on all refugees from Syria and other Muslim countries has really upset a balance globally. It is very un-American,” she said, while declining to comment on pre-clearance and customs checks in Ireland as “it would not be appropriate for a former president”.
I have been in New York a lot in recent times, and I have seen the extreme vetting of refugees from around the world, so the idea that you have a global ban on all refugees at a time when Syria needs maximum support and allowing in, and now this issue is being discussed more seriously at international level than at any time that I can remember.
Last September a major meeting was held on refugees and the world committed itself to two global compacts, one on migration and one on refugees. This executive order cuts through all that in a way that’s very disturbing and a very bad example.
Robinson said that she sensed that a “lot of people believed what [Trump] was saying was just to gain votes” during the election. “It is chilling that so much of it is becoming a reality.”
She said she could not tell whether or not Trump’s order was the beginning or if the ban will be revoked in a few months, as has been outlined.
“It’s very hard to know, we have very little knowledge of how the administration will function and will cope with the analysis they say they’re going to do,” she said, adding that the executive order was the work of “a small cabal around President Trump”.
I fear the influence of people like Steve Bannon (Trump’s chief strategist), who is well known for his right wing and racist views.
Robinson described the ban as “definitely anti-Muslim” but stopped short of describing it as racist. “The good thing about the US is there are checks and balances and there will certainly be challenges [to this] in the courts.”
She also decried another of Trump’s executive orders – the reinstatement of the ‘global gag’ rule blocking funding for non Governmental organisations (NGOs) which may provide abortion counselling in developing countries.
“What we’re concerned about is that the impact on the ground in developing countries is shocking,” she said. “It will mean more unplanned pregnancies, more backstreet abortions, and a lack of proper neonatal care, childcare, pre healthcare, at a time when we’re supposed to be implementing sustainable development goals.”
Robinson said she believes that support for Trump comes from a “white entitlement bubble”. “People, whatever their grievance, which is certainly real, but they happen to be white people who have entitlement and feel that others are doing better,” she said.
In the rest of world we’ve been making progress, but this is a bubble in developing countries where mainly white people feel they have been left behind and are blaming the other, the migrant, the refugee, for taking their jobs.
She said that in case of coal workers, for example, “President Trump has fooled them into thinking they will get their jobs back”.
Coal is both non-competitive and a major source of greenhouse gases.
Asked whether or not the protests being seen against Trump will really make any difference, Robinson replied “well he’s certainly very interested in crowds and crowd sizes”.
And the crowds seen the day after his inauguration were much bigger despite all attempts to say otherwise.
“President Trump has a giant ego, we know that, and he’s a bit of a bully.”
And you have to stand up to bullies.