On international and local scales, the organization prepares to fight for rights
For the month of November, Minnehaha’s Amnesty International club focused on the topic of global women’s rights. However, it was hard for the club members to see past the large Republican elephant in the room. Why? Well consider these comments U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, appointed Nov. 8, has made:
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever,” he said about journalist Megyn Kelly after she hosted the first Republican debate of the U.S. presidential campaign.
“Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see,” he wrote in his 2006 book Trump 101: The Way to Success.
“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass,” Trump said when responding to a question about the media in Esquire magazine in 1991.
And you already know about the “locker room banter” made on the bus.
It is comments like these that have contributed to the passion of arguments held around dinner tables all over the U.S. following the presidential campaigns. Partaking in these conversations are non-governmental organization Amnesty International and Minnehaha’s Amnesty club.
Amnesty International is a global organization that works to fight social injustice through advocacy in U.S. congress with actions such as lobbying, boycotts, protests and letter writing.
Both Amnesty International as a global organization and as a school club are non-political party affiliated. However, neither stand by Trump’s past and recent discriminatory comments, actions and policy proposals aimed at women.
“We don’t differentiate by political party or take sides in elections,” stated Executive Director of Amnesty International USA Margaret Huang in an official article on blog.amnestyusa.org. “We take the side of human rights, and that’s why we won’t stand by and let President-elect Donald Trump and his administration — or anyone else — deny people their human rights and freedoms.”
Standing on the side of human rights, Amnesty International takes the stance of “pro-women’s rights” by which they mean pro-choice abortion, support of contraception and government funding of organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
Trump stated on Sept. 16 that he is “committed to de-funding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions.”
During the third presidential debate against Secretary Hillary Clinton on Oct. 19, Trump responded to a question about overturning the Roe v. Wade case, a case that legalized abortion in 1973. Trump stated that he was pro-life, and if the ruling were to be reversed, the choice would be given to the individual states. In the past, when this power was given to the state, there was an increase in the imposition of strict regulations on abortion clinics, making abortion virtually impossible for working or busy women to receive such a procedure.
He continued to explain that the overturn would happen “automatically” as he would have the ability to nominate potentially several justices to the court.
Amnesty club supervisor Nathan Johnson is not concerned that Trump will be able to overturn this case as he believes that an overturn via constitutional amendment is extremely unlikely as well as a Supreme Court ruling.
“Supreme Court justices all want the opinions that they write to have lasting impact,” said Johnson, “and in order for my opinions to have lasting impact, I need to respect the opinions that have come before me if I want justices in the future to respect what we have decided. Even if Trump were to say he were to nominate three people to the court, the court is very cautious. They recognize that they are part of a two and a half century tradition of the Supreme Court, and they want to uphold the integrity of the court.”
Amnesty club’s presidents, seniors Kate Ali, Abby Gillmer and Anna Zellie are concerned about how Trump’s election will set back women’s rights progress.
“I know some Trump supporters, and I know a lot of people who didn’t like Hillary,” said Ali. “I think everyone agreed, regardless of who they supported or did not support in the election, that Trump’s presidency will set back women in some way or another.”
Gillmer is insistent that Trump should look to the future, and not alter large movements of change that have been made in the past.
“Trump shouldn’t change or go back in history,” said Gillmer. “If we’re going back, women wouldn’t have rights they have now like the right to vote. If Trump sends us back, it will defeat all those people that put in hard work before.”
Amnesty club explained that even more alarming than his policy proposals are the discriminatory comments and actions by Trump.
“Trump’s rhetoric and bigotry have been so harmful,” explained Ali, “not only to women who have to live with him as president now, but to men and young boys who now think that it’s okay to demean, objectify and assault women because you can still become the president.”
Amnesty International, as stated on their website, is responding to the election by immediately focusing on protecting the right to protest, mobilizing people to take a stand against hate, pushing back when Trump’s agenda puts human rights at risk, demanding scrutiny of presidential appointments and nominations, empowering members to put grassroots pressure on Congress and pushing the Obama Administration to protect human rights in its final weeks.
While passionate about Amnesty International’s responses to the election, Amnesty club did not dwell on the topic of Trump as both Johnson and the presidents of the club believe that concentrating on the election would be a disservice to other countries facing more extreme forms of discrimination.
Although Amnesty International does not support the Trump’s election, Amnesty club members feel there is an underlying message applicable to everyone, despite political affiliation.
“I think the message is that we need to keep working to improve human rights, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world,” explained Ali.
“Despite political affiliation, everyone has something that they want to change, everyone has something that they stand for, and there are things we can do. We don’t have to sit at home and hope something happens. We can actually go out and make a difference.”