Captive Nations Week: July 17, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

Thanks for the reminder that this is Captive Nations Week. I actually had no idea this week even existed until you tweeted 45’s proclamation:

“During Captive Nations Week, we stand in solidarity with those living under repressive regimes, and we commit to promoting our American ideals, grounded in respect for natural rights and protected by the rule of law, throughout the world. As President Reagan often reminded us, as a shining city upon a hill, America has a duty to shine its beacon light on freedom-loving people around the world.”

For some reference, here’s a link to Obama’s proclamation, which is (unsurprisingly) much longer and complex and therefore can’t fit in a Twitter screenshot. 

To quote: 

This week, let us rededicate ourselves to broadening democracy’s reach and promoting its true pillars — the rule of law, fair elections, a free press, and a vibrant civil society. As we work to lift up the lives of those whose governments still rule by fear and intimidation, let us stay vigilant in defense of democratic values and the ideals that keep us free.

I’m so struck by the differences here. First, in the amount of thought put into each proclamation, and secondly, in the messages being promoted. 

For certain, each have an element of exceptionalism and hypocrisy, given our own history as a colonial power (and present as a colonial power — what up, Puerto Rico), but while Obama notes we must “rededicate” ourselves and “stay vigilant”, your administration’s proclamation asserts we’re already the best, goddamnit, and we’re going to make the world great again. 

Except, unsurprisingly given the general lack of specific plans from 45 and cohorts, there’s no plan. Obama gives specifics, both above and here:

We must bolster our commitment to upholding freedom and democracy wherever they are jeopardized. That means ensuring the people of Ukraine have the right to choose their own destiny and ensure their independence; it means helping the millions of those displaced from Syria seek a better and safer future, while continuing our efforts to bring an end to this brutal conflict and destroy ISIL. It also means discussing our differences with nations more directly. And we have opened a new chapter in our relationship with Cuba, which includes direct engagement with their government on human rights and steps to empower and create opportunity for the Cuban people.

Meanwhile, we’re now refusing to admit Syrians, closing the door on Cuba, have no real plan to fight ISIL, and besties with the power (hint: Russia) occupying Ukraine.

And lastly: sorry, but no, we are not currently some shining beacon of democracy for the world to emulate. Our election was tampered with by a foreign power. Voter suppression is being legitimized. We’re disenfranchising people of color at enormous rates. I’m not looking up to us right now.

Not many other people are either.


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