Last week saw what is arguably the most terrifying development in India's six-decade-long history as an independent republic: Prime Minister Narendra Modi installed as chief minister
(governor) of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state that houses the Taj Mahal (the world's finest Muslim monument), Yogi Adityanath, a rabid Hindu nationalist who makes no bones about his ethnic cleansing agenda against Muslims. During the campaign for state elections, Adityanath repeatedly invoked Trump's Muslim ban to justify his plans.
Of course what Trump is proposing is nowhere close to what this man has in mind. Still, what this clearly shows is that America is losing its soft power to spread pluralism, tolerance, and other liberal values. Instead of remaining a beacon for protecting vulnerable minorities, Trump's America seems to be turning into a giant green light for minorities' persecution around the world, I note in my column at The Week.
This is not merely because Trump has neither the interest nor the moral clout to call them (illiberal leaders) out and deny them international respectability, something that Modi and his ilk desperately crave. It is because the rest of the world sets its moral compass by looking at America. Most Americans don't fully appreciate this, but the moral progress that this country has made by invoking its own principles — liberty, justice, equality, tolerance, religious pluralism — to fight slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation has been the main driver of liberalism around the world over the last several decades. America has offered persecuted groups a moral vocabulary and a modus operandi for securing their rights and holding their regimes accountable.
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