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Mixed Reaction across the Globe to 45th U.S. president Donald Trump’s Inauguration

On Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts

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Donald Trump. Wikimedia
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Hundreds of thousands of people at the National Mall in Washington looked on Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts. VOA reporters talked to people around the globe who said they are looking at the transition of American power with a mix of admiration and apprehension.

Russia

In Moscow, a “Russian Army”-brand clothing store flashed Trump’s image on an electronic billboard and offered discounts to American citizens. On the streets, reactions were mixed.

“We hope that relations between our Russia and America will improve, that they’ll find a common language in relation to Syria, that they will find a common language to get rid of what is going on there,” said Lidiya Voronova, a retiree.

A young editor at a newspaper who gave his name only as Sergey said Trump “is quite a controversial president in the history of the United States, but I hope he will gain the trust of Americans.”

Trump’s inaugural address signaled a new “America first” policy for the country:

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own,” he declared at the U.S. Capitol.

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Mexico

That attitude has unnerved some in Mexico, where the respected weekly magazine Proceso warns, “The war is coming.”

José Luis López Aguirre, a media expert at the Pan American University in Mexico City, says Trump’s use of Twitter and other social media to proclaim his views has widened divisions in America.

“He [Trump] is creating a community that is very adept at his aggressive, confrontational speech that tries to polarize American society,” Aguirre said, adding, “Because not everything he says is true.”

His university colleague, communication specialist María López Gutiérrez, has a different point of view: “I think that this possible threat of Trump has been greatly exaggerated. … We should be waiting, we are dedicated to communication, to give reality and not just the show.”

West Africa

In West Africa, VOA spoke with residents of both Nigeria and Niger, who for the most part seemed encouraged by the new administration.

Muhammad Uba Musa of Maiduguri, Nigeria, said, “Americans have so much to write about Barack Obama’s administration. We are praying for him … [and] also praying for President Donald Trump to succeed in his government.”

Alhaji Bello Musa of Birnin Konni in Niger also was hopeful: “Despite President Trump’s heated campaign in the past year … our prayers to him are that he should try to unify the world. … We also hope he’ll help Third World nations reach their potential.”

Umma Issaka of the same region in Niger was more cautious: “Donald Trump’s statement [that he may] ban Muslims from entering the country, is our major problem. … Most importantly, one cannot distinguish between Muslims and Christians; the relationship between the two has a long history, which has been since the era of the prophets. He should be very careful with his words as a leader of a great nation.”

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Abdul Hadi Arez, a retired attorney, says he believes that Trump will face some grave challenges in foreign policy. “Over the past 30 years, Afghanistan has been torn apart in a regional proxy war,” he said, and this trend has become even more pronounced recently, “Because we see Russia, China and Iran interfering in Afghanistan against the U.S.”

Emran Khan, a student in Kabul, is “concerned that with the arrival of the new president, Afghanistan will lose the aid we receive.” He hopes the United States will not shift away from efforts to eliminate the Taliban, because “U.S. commitment is necessary for our security.”

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South Korea

“We have been hearing about [Trump’s] America First’ policies since his campaign, and his extreme attitude makes us worry about what the future holds,” said Choi Seowoo, 22, who works at a finance company in Seoul.

“However, I am hopeful — or at least I want to believe — that rather than simply abandoning the traditional U.S.-South Korea alliance, President Trump will open a new chapter in the alliance by making it into a more modern relationship that fits the ever-volatile global society and politics.”

North Korea

A 50-year-old North Korean defector who lives in Chicago, and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told VOA he hopes “Trump revitalizes the nation’s economy, so that people here can have a better life.”

And along with strengthening U.S. national security to protect Americans, the defector added, “he should increase pressure on Pyongyang by slapping tougher sanctions against North Korea.”

Another defector, 50-year-old Kim Chang Ho of Los Angeles, said, “There are scores of North Korean defectors who have arrived here through third countries, and they do not have legal status. … I wish the U.S. would give them a chance to settle here permanently.”

Other nations

The inauguration attracted people of many different nationalities to Washington, both visitors and those who now live here permanently.

Nem Chhoeung is a Cambodian who lives in Clayton, Georgia. He told VOA he is very happy “because in our country we rarely see this kind of event.” He felt honored and privileged to be in the U.S. capital to watch the transition from one U.S. president to another.

Sen Son, a Buddhist monk who now lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia, shared the same joyous feeling of witnessing history.

“For me, as a Buddhist monk living in this country, I am happy to be participating in this event. This does not mean that I support [Trump], but I am enjoying this inauguration.”

Yehuda Glick, a visiting Jewish rabbi who also is a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, told VOA he strongly hopes and prays — “that’s what I’m here for, to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

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Brown: The colour of toil but non-acceptance across the West?

"This is now our destiny as brown people. Our labour is needed, but citizenship is denied."

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Police Chief David Brown. Image Source: Twitter
  • Kamal Al Solaylee’s book Brown highlights the problems of ‘brown’ people in Trump’s rule
  • Donald Trump is often accused of malingering the image of brown people
  • this book cites many examples of discrimination which brown people go through

Title: Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone); Author: Kamal Al Solaylee

All our social development and our technological advancements don’t seem enough to eradicate our long-persisting atavistic sense of difference based on appearance, which though long-suppressed is now emerging free from its restraints — as proved by the recent intemperate comments by US President Donald Trump on immigrants from a certain set of countries.

Trump’s thinking, as seen in his off-the-cuff remarks, underscore that the questionable classification of race, expressed by the obviously evident and inescapable feature of a person’s skin, is well alive — and extends beyond the white-black binary. What about the yellow, or rather, the (as necessary for the global economy but far more exploited) brown?

Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Trump is only one leading manifestation of the malaise facing brown people — which include West Asians, Latin Americans, North Africans, and South and Southeast Asians — and far beyond the West too or from the “Whites”, says Yemeni-origin, Egypt-bred, Canadian journalist-turned-academician Al Solaylee in this book.

Trump’s victory “largely (but not exclusively)” rode on demonising Mexicans, galvanising sentiment against Muslims and championing white nationalism, the vote for Brexit was mostly pioneered by those with a restrictive view of Englishness, the record of Canada under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives — all these are obscure racial conflicts brewing in the US and Europe for decades now.

Also Read: Mexico can learn about dealing with diaspora from India: Claudia Ruiz-Massieu Salinas

“Examine these tensions closely and you’ll find a strong anti-brown sentiment at the core,” says Al Solaylee as he traces the response to, as well as the experiences of, the residents of Global South, who are forced to migrate to — and much needed in — the Developed North for various reasons, not least of which is the latter’s colonial record.

“Brown as the colour of cheap labour continues on a global scale… brown bodies undertake the work that white and older immigrant Americans refuse to do (and those black slaves were forced to do in previous centuries).

These are low-skill, labour-intensive jobs in unforgiving climates,” he says, but also that these are not limited to the Western nations but also in the more affluent parts of Asia itself too.

“This is now our destiny as brown people. Our labour is needed, but citizenship is denied; our presence as Muslims or religious minorities is offered as an example of the tolerant, diverse societies in which we live, but we continue to be feared,” says Al Solaylee.

And there is no difference whether this is deliberate or mistaken as he goes to cite the cases of the racist slurs on Sikh volunteers feeding the homeless in Manchester in the wake of the May 2017 terror attack, or the fatal shooting of Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla in the US in February 2017 by an American who thought he and his friend were Iranians and screaming at them to “get out of his country”.

Al Solaylee contends we think of brown as a “continuum, a grouping — a metaphor, even — for the millions of darker-skinned people who, in broad historical terms, have missed out on the economic and political gains of the post-mobility, equality and freedom”. They are now living, he says, among former colonial masters where they are “transforming themselves from nameless individuals with swarthy skins into neighbours, co-workers and friends”.

You may also like: List of 50 People who have affected Hinduism in a Negative Manner 

And it is their story he tells — both in their homes from the Philippines to Sri Lanka and workplaces from Hong Kong to the Gulf as well as Western Europe and North America.

Al Solaylee, however, starts with first recounting his own childhood experience on learning he is brown after seeing an English movie featuring a white child and coming to terms with “brownness” in his journeys around the world and interactions with other browns (fairness creams figure largely as well as the concern that he settle down) as well as Brown’s significance in nature and culture.

He then takes up the human obsession with race, despite the concept being debunked, except in politics before his exploration of the experiences and consequences of being brown around the world.

A stirring travelogue, incisive social and political comment and a passionate cry to rise above unavoidable consequences of geography and genes, this invaluable work rises in importance beyond its subject to be a seminal guide to the world today — and what it will soon be — particularly the US. IANS