By Constance Judd
It is not uncommon for presidents to weigh in on divisive issues at the forefront of American concern; however, it is highly frowned upon when presidents speak on such issues that only results in the skewing of politics surrounding the issue.
Following the arrest of Uzbekistan immigrant Sayfullo Saipov in the terrorist attack in New York that resulted in the death of eight people and 12 injured, President Trump denounced the American criminal-justice system as a “joke” and a “laughingstock.” He ultimately urged the American people to send Saipov to Guantánamo Bay, the highly secured American military prison. Not stopping there, Trump stormed Twitter and said Saipov should get nothing less than the death penalty, further criticizing the American judicial process.
Trump’s comments on the devastating New York attack ultimately framed the politics surrounding not just terrorism but future discussions regarding immigration and national security.
It is no secret that the majority of Trump’s initiatives in the White House have been to push immigration and national-security change; however, between debates among politicians, change has come in small waves. In the wake of this terrorist attack, people can expect that change will come quicker and stronger than it has.
What is more pressing, however, is how Trump uses a senseless act of violence to push his agenda in a negative way. It is crucial to understand the implications of pushing an agenda that glorifies interrogation disregarding basic human rights — i.e., torture.
With Trump voicing his frustration with the American criminal-justice system, it is clear to see that he is mirroring the rhetoric he used during his campaign that “torture works” when asked about the Geneva Convention. What is more concerning is that Trump’s rhetoric is a reflection of key values that America is often cited for possessing.
More often than not, we disregard the subtle notion that our president, the one we collectively choose to lead our nation, is a mirror image of the key values that we hold with precedence. What does it say then, when the leader we choose publicly glorifies torture as a means of interrogation and that human rights should be disregarded when the republic is in danger?
The answer is simple: The U.S. no longer possesses values that are worth upholding.
The president’s statements loudly profess that we are slowly transforming into something similar to what we fear: autocracy or even oligarchy. While the media prefer to take Trump’s spewings lightly as something that don’t deserve to attend to, I would have to disagree and say that they do. Not because they solely go against the American way but because they slowly normalize the opposite behavior we expect our leaders to possess.
Maybe it’s fair enough to say America is no longer the America we once knew.