Professor Colleen Murphy, an expert in political reconciliation, spoke to the Illinois News Bureau about transitional justice and the end of the Trump presidency. An excerpt from the interview follows:
What is transitional justice and does the U.S. need to pursue it in the aftermath of the Trump administration?
Transitional justice is concerned with accounting for wrongdoing, both past and present, in order to transform relationships among citizens and between citizens and government. It’s a pursuit of justice not only for the sake of redressing victims and achieving some measure of accountability for perpetrators, but also with an eye toward fundamentally changing how citizens and officials relate moving forward.
And yes, we need to pursue it after President Trump’s term ends. The objection that’s often raised is the U.S. isn’t post-apartheid South Africa or post-Nazi Germany. We’re the world’s oldest democracy. But that objection is misguided. The conditions that generate the need to pursue transitional justice are present in the U.S. in the form of, for example, structural economic inequality such as the racial wealth gap, or the way in which race is influencing who is suffering from unemployment and even death due to COVID-19.
What’s especially apt for this particular moment is what I call serious existential uncertainty, when it becomes deeply unclear where a community is heading. The uncertainty surrounding the election – both in Trump’s refusal to concede and in the rhetoric and unfounded allegations calling into question its integrity – has generated questions and concerns in a lot of people’s minds about whether there will be a peaceful transition of power.
These are all hallmarks of transitional societies where transitional justice is pursued, which just further underscores why we need it in the U.S.
Read the full article at news.illinois.edu.