Former foreign secretary David Miliband has told an online Holocaust Memorial Day audience of 800 that it is everyone’s responsibility to “put hate in check” as he reflected on Donald Trump’s presidency.
Now the chief executive of the US-based International Rescue Committee, Miliband was speaking on Wednesday evening at the invitation of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), in conversation with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.
Known as a political moderate, Miliband pulled no punches, saying: “The defining impulse of the Trump Presidency has been impunity, the exercise of power without responsibility.”
Trump was leaving with the US Capitol “besmirched by a hate mob he incited,” he argued, with “large sections of his party stained by association with a riot which included people wearing T-shirts reading 6MWE [Six Million Wasn’t Enough]”.
Miliband warned that the US and other Western nations were suffering a “sustained attack on their democratic institutions, laws, and norms,” which – in the US – was actually coming from “significant sections” of the Republican Party.
“Around the world, might is increasingly willing to assert that it is right,” he said. “Impunity is on the march, and our alarm bells should be ringing.”
Trump has called the media “the enemy of the people”, senior judges “totally biased”, and the election “fraudulent” in response to coverage, judgements and results that he did not like.
He fired the FBI director investigating his campaign, as he did the diplomats who said he withheld weapons from Ukraine until Kyiv investigated his rival’s son. He even tried to fire the special prosecutor who replaced the fired FBI director.
Miliband said the attacks – from within – on democracies’ elections, and on freedom of association and expression, meant that “we are living through a third wave of autocratisation – the 1930s, the 1970s, and today”. He called it “a new wave of unfreedom”.
HET chief executive Karen Pollock said: “Hearing talk about ‘the age of impunity’ on inauguration day was prescient and reminds us of the importance of vibrant democracies and the role we must all play to create a tolerant society.”
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