Aug 25 2010
In its first-ever report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on conditions in the United States, the State Department said that some Americans, notably minorities, are still victims of discrimination. Despite success in reforming such inequities as slavery and the denial of women’s right to vote, the department said, considerable progress is still needed.
AP In one of his first moves to reach out to the international community, President Barack Obama decided that the U.S. should run for a seat on the council. The Bush administration had shunned the panel for years over its alleged disproportionate criticism of Israel and membership that includes repressive regimes.
The report’s findings were cautiously welcomed by human rights activists but will likely draw fire from conservatives who opposed joining the council. They said the U.S. should not be judged by countries with poor human rights records.
The United States had distanced itself from the Human Rights Council under former President George W. Bush, partly because a number of members were known for particularly egregious human-rights abuses, and also because a strong contingent had virulently attacked Israel in a tone that reeked of anti-Semitism.
At a recent U.N. conference on racism here, a featured speaker, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, launched yet another vitriolic attack against both Israel and the United States. More than a few critics pointed out that Iran, which apparently feels comfortable stoning women to death for the crime of adultery or putting writers in prison for expressing what the regime considers to be impolitic ideas, is hardly in a position to lecture anyone concerning human rights. LINK
The report noted that although the U.S. now has an African-American president and that women and Hispanics have won greater social and economic success, large segments of American society suffer from unfair policies and practices.
The report, which drew on meetings that U.S. officials held with various groups around the country since January, also cited concerns from civil rights activists and citizens related to immigration and racial profiling by law enforcement agencies.
At the same time, it said that the U.S. welcomed “observations and recommendations” from council members “that can help us on that road to a more perfect union.”
Blue Ridge Now Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. boycotted the United Nations Human Rights Council, a wise move. The Human Rights Council is dominated by despotic countries with terrible human rights records and exists almost entirely to condemn Israel.
Under President Barack Obama, the United States joined the Human Rights Council, hoping to change it from within. Now that membership has borne its first fruit, a 29-page report, submitted to the Human Rights Council by the United States, detailing our nation’s human rights failings.
According to a story by The Associated Press, the report actually pointed out as successes the abolition of slavery and granting of the right to vote to women but said discrimination is still a problem.
The report also noted that blacks, Latinos, Muslims, South Asians, Native Americans and gays and lesbians still suffer from high unemployment rates, hate crimes, poverty, poor housing, lack of access to health care and discriminatory hiring practices.
It is, in terms of the human rights record of a country, a ridiculous and bizarre collection of statements.
While it is true that unemployment is high, it is only high by American standards, not by world standards. Furthermore, what does our current unemployment situation have to do with human rights?
Do we have crimes motivated by hate? Sure, a few, against members of both minority and majority groups, but they aren’t committed by the nation. They are committed by criminals, and when possible, those criminals are prosecuted.
Are there Americans who suffer from poverty, poor housing and lack of health care? Sure, Americans of all colors and creeds sometimes go without. What does that have to do with the human rights record of our nation?
Is there sometimes discrimination in hiring? Sure, but it is illegal, and violators can be prosecuted.
Our government isn’t, in the U.S., supposed to run everything. It is not supposed to guarantee employment or housing or jobs to the people. Ideally, it is mostly supposed to keep things fair and stay out of the way.
But again, the Human Rights Council is run largely by governments that exert far more control over their people than the United States. Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba currently sit on the council and Libya was chosen in 2003 to chair its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission.
AS A REWARD for its awful human rights record, Libya was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, where it also joined these other nations with lousy human rights records. Libya needed 97 votes to win, but on a secret ballot, a whopping 155 countries, or 80 percent of U.N. members, thought Libya would be a great addition to a Council to debate human rights violations. And where was the United States Ambassador Susan Rice during this election ? SHHHH ! Don’t wake her, she is still sleeping. Ambassador Rice was in the same place she was during the obscene vote to put Iran in the Commission for Woman’s Rights, absent.
Putting a report that accuses the U.S. of human rights violations before a council largely composed of brutal nations is wrong. The shortcomings detailed in the report stem not from a national policy the government tries to enforce but from the actions of criminals our government works to punish. That is far different than the state-sponsored horrors that occur in China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia.
And the Obama administration almost seems to tip its hand with this report, implying that full employment, housing and, of course, every aspect of health care should fall under the government’s control.
After all, everybody knows how much massing all power in a central government does for human rights, right?
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