“American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to ‘protect, promote and support breast-feeding’ and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.
When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.
The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.”
The bizarre theatrics by Washington over the issue has been apparently recounted by more than a dozen delegates from several countries. Interestingly many reports say those representatives have requested anonymity because they fear retaliation from the United States!
Patti Rundall, from the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action who has attended meetings of the assembly since the 80s, told NPR she never relied on the American delegation to do anything good, but never expected something so harsh like this to happen about a simple issue such as breastfeeding:
"They would do things, you know, you'd never rely on them for doing something good, but you'd certainly wouldn't get this really harsh approach we're seeing in the last year or so."
“What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the US holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health,” she also told the Times.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The dystopian TV series The Handmaid's Tale depicts a US taken over by a totalitarian theocratic Christian regime where the ruling elite impose their harsh social order on society and where women are subjugated to draconian laws which ban them from almost all social and even individual freedoms including the right to read and write. The despotic regime rejects almost all matters of common sense including the right to move freely or women’s rights to their bodies. Of course the series is a work of imagination based on a novel of the same name, and any parallels between the Trump administration and that of the patriarchal society of the “Republic of Gilead” – the name the new rulers have given to the United States – is an exaggeration.
This said, as viewers witness in the series, the removal of the polity’s rights and freedoms, especially women's rights and freedoms, does not happen overnight, nor does the military dictatorship gain control without the corporation of ordinary citizens.
What happens in the fictional series is a host of events and miscalculations by a civil society that is both naive and unprepared to address ambitious dictatorial personalities, who are the exact opposite of the masses, in the sense that they are cunning, well-prepared and willful to execute their draconian ideology, even where it goes against the common sense of the entire international society.
The Trumpian onslaught on common sense/women
Trump’s defense of coal and fossil fuels, his assertion that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive, the degradation of women, grants of pardon to extreme right-wing elements and many other hotspot issues are all indicators of a president that wants to eventually change the norms of the American society and replace them with his own concept of America: An isolationist armed nation where white males hold power and control politics and society.
Now in the case of fossil fuels, credit has to be given to the Republic of Gilead as they are much more attentive, or claim to be attentive to nature and the environment. The Trump administration, to the satisfaction of fossil fuel companies and ignorant citizens, does not even give a simple lip service to environmental issues:
Trump’s attacks on women are maybe some of the most frustrating of his long-list positions that threaten to gradually change America. Here are only a few of a couple dozen of instances where Trump degrades women:
In a 1994 interview with ABC News, Trump was very frank of his expectations of wifely duties.
“I have days where, if I come home, and I don't want to sound too much like a chauvinist,” the president said, “but when I come home and dinner's not ready, I go through the roof.”
In another 1999 interview, Trump joked that he had promised then 19-year-old Ivanka Trump that he would not date anyone younger than her. Trump said, “I have a deal with her. She’s 17 and doing great, Ivanka. She made me promise, swear to her that I would never date a girl younger than her,” Trump said. “So as she grows older, the field is getting very limited.”
And in 2012, he tweeted about Arianna Huffington’s unattractive body.
Trump shout out to his base
In the most recent event that once again reminds us of a changing America where anti-government gun-toting Trump supporters enjoy the special attention of Donald Trump, the president pardoned two Oregon ranchers who were serving time in prison for arson on federal land and ignited the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and became a cause celebre for the famous gun-toting Bundy family and armed militias who took over the refuge for more than 40 days. You can imagine what would have happened if the color of the citizens in the debacle was black!
The Trump administration simply claimed the federal prosecutors who fought for long sentences against the Hammonds were “overzealous.” "This was unjust,'' the White House said. Environmental groups and others immediately responded to Trump’s pardon, reminding Americans that Trump is setting dangerous precedents in favor of the most extreme elements of American society. In a shocking statement, Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, said, "President Trump, at the urging of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has once again sided with lawless extremists who believe that public land does not belong to all Americans.”
We could go on and on with the instances of Trump’s derogatory language against women, minorities, people with physical malfunctions and of course his defense of his conservative, at times, vulgar base. But the point here is not to list such comments, as a quick Google search would show many have already done this in other articles. The point here is that such acts and positions, whether from Trump or his administration, should not become normal incidents and realities of the American polity. Stories like the breastfeeding incident or the administration's advocacy for fossil fuels including Trump’s love affair with the coal industry, or his pardon of anti-government right-wing conservatives, should not become regular events in America. For now, The Handmaid's Tale is only a fictional story; however, the US polity should be more vigilant than ever as we have seen so many episodes in human history where fiction has all of a sudden became reality.