Sumra: In Trump’s America, it’s never been more important to look at rest of world

Eish Sumra, Op-Ed Contributor

During this tumultuous political period in the United States, it would be hard to cast your gaze away from the scandals of President Donald Trump’s America. The news in this country is so focused on the new administration’s negligence and incompetence that conflicts and issues in other nations seem to be consistently avoided. However, as the U.S. pushes an isolationist agenda, it is clear that now more than ever we need to be engaged globally if there is to be any chance of repairing America’s broken relationship with the outside world.

In the last few months alone there has been mass genocide in Myanmar, allowed by a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, storms and floods in India and surrounding nations that have left thousands dead, and police rule in Catalonia, Spain where independence activists are attempting to hold an illegal referendum. Yet the U.S. and its media remain coldly unaware and unengaged with the atrocities occurring in places that have received very little, if any, mainstream press attention.

While the media’s role is of course to highlight issues and scandals in this country’s government, some of Trump’s more recent statements and hyperbole are nothing new — reporting on them seems to only bolster his base even further. Avoiding other newsworthy stories around the world pushes Trump’s isolationist agenda and keeps all the focus on him, which he seems to enjoy. One way the press could resist America’s regressive direction could be to further immerse itself in issues outside of our own borders, promoting a fairer and more inclusive approach to foreign affairs.

Things may look bad here, but we still have a democracy and a structure for dealing with things. In the Philippines, there’s a dictator who demands his citizens shot on the streets, and in Kenya an election is being nullified for illegal activity. If the media is truly fearful of authoritarian figures and undemocratic processes, this fear should extend to nations that don’t have the checks and balances or other processes of modern democracies. The media must hold all governments and nations accountable if it is to be taken seriously in its mission to inform.

Even when looking at the U.S., it’s clear that global engagement could be a key form of attack against an incompetent government. Trump and his supporters hate to be undermined — they hate looking inferior and unimportant. Therefore, pushing his administration to act and respond to global crises will make Trump look even weaker and less presidential than he already does. His administration will be forced to dig deeper and prove it has some political capital by helping national organizations like the United Nations and European Union, therefore salvaging some respect for this country.

The same goes for students as we attempt to navigate this unprecedented political atmosphere — we must be cognizant of our alienation of both allies and nations we have little interaction with. We must push the more liberal members of government to keep one eye on the rest of the world, because if the U.S. has any hope of remaining a force on the global stage, its citizens and its public servants have to prove they are remotely worth the label “leaders of the free world.”

We exist in a power vacuum where no one country seems to yield the most power or influence around the world. While people look for a leader, this is really the perfect chance for all people who wish to resist to show their support for causes around the world. As dictatorships are essentially being created in Turkey, racist political parties surge across continental Europe and religious genocide takes place in Asia, resisting can no longer be just a domestic cause. It needs to be a global one. It is time for the media and liberal members of government to step up and deal with the wider issues of populism and division. We must always be informed or any liberal agenda will flounder.

Eish Sumra is a Medill senior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.