It’s no secret that America’s star is fading on the world stage these days, under a president whose authoritarian tactics have outraged allies and enemies alike. But a recent audit by an international human-rights monitor reveals that, even before Trump’s buffoonery took over the White House, Washington was failing dramatically to live up to its reputation as a beacon of democracy. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly Maina Kiai’s dissection of the nation’s systematic betrayal of basic human rights centers on America’s shrinking public square.
Based on a year-long observation of the country’s governance and civic life that stretches from mid-2016 through the start of the Trump administration, Kiai, whose post recently ended with the publication of the report, sees a massive erosion of the right to freedom of assembly. The concept encompasses the right to organize and protest and other essential forms of civic and public activism. Though it is formally inscribed in the Bill of Rights, the precept has come under assault under the Trump administration, Kiai says, stoked by the president’s “hateful and xenophobic rhetoric during the presidential campaign” and blatant flouting of civil liberties in his policies and governing style.