Abstract: Human rights are typically thought of as the anti-thesis of populism, a precarious bulwark against majoritarian political passions and their sometimes toxic brand of anti-elitist demagoguery. This tends to neglect the extent to which certain Western populist movements have themselves increasingly instrumentalized human rights to better feed into racist and xenophobic discourses. This raises uncomfortable questions for the human rights movement and has a tendency to radicalize unresolved tensions that go to its very intellectual foundation. The article suggests that the human rights response to populism cannot be content with simply doubling down on the sanctity of rights.
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