UN: US Is ‘Rights Violator’ — but Not How You Think

This is a confusing article on Guantánamo,” a friend of mine pointed out when I sent him the link. It’s a piece about the Obama Administration allegedly “admitting” its “human rights shortcomings,” as reported by the United Nations. As I scanned the article for any mention of the violation of any actual rights, I noticed my head involuntarily shaking back and forth in disbelief.

“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.

“High unemployment rates, hate crime, poverty, poor housing, lack of access to health care and discriminatory hiring practices are among the challenges the report identified as affecting blacks, Latinos, Muslims, South Asians, Native Americans and gays and lesbians in the United States.”

The horror of comparatively high unemployment! But seriously, for two reasons, this is an offensive article. The first and lesser is that while there are certainly some crappy apartments (I have lived in some), discrimination in hiring, and other “challenges” faced by non-white non-males in this country, I can’t imagine to what countries this is being compared in a serious manner. Is the United States government a rights violator because we don’t all have unlimited and free and excellent health care at a finger snap? Or because some Americans beat others up for dumber reasons than normal? No.

The second and far more shocking is that the United States is indeed an extreme rights violator in its various wars on things on which one cannot really make war. The War on Drugs is an ongoing hideous failure which, together with the War on Poverty, has gutted America’s inner cities — if we’re being honest these two are more responsible for crappy apartments than the fact that we all don’t have government-subsidized palaces and penthouses. It has also made a nightmare of several Latin American countries and plays no small part in the suffering of Afghanistan.

But the War on Terror is truly where Washington earns the most rights scorn. Prison camps, rendition, torture, assassinations, domestic spying, environmental destruction, and the foreign wars which necessitate all of it are America’s shame. We cover it so often in these pages I don’t need to detail it all — just look at the top of the page any random day.

I assume the UN has nothing to say on these issues due to its at least passive involvement in these international criminal debacles. Much easier to point the finger about alleged pay disparities between the genders than call its largest donor and host nation a regime full of torturers and death profiteers.

10 thoughts on “UN: US Is ‘Rights Violator’ — but Not How You Think”

  1. I agree with your main point, but poo-pooing wage gaps and discrimination as "challenges" doesn't seem like a good way to make it. Yes the War on Drugs and the War on Terror are examples of more directly government-caused human rights violations (we should just redefine war as state-sponsored murder and throw all the politicians in jail), but we don't have to deny the existence of racism and sexism, or that these have a real effect on people's lives, in order to say it.

    1. From the post:
      "there are certainly some crappy apartments (I have lived in some), discrimination in hiring, and other 'challenges' faced by non-white non-males in this country"

      This is denial?

    2. I didn't do that. I said these things are of minuscule importance and where not exacerbated by state-granted privilege or well-meaning-but-misguided regulation, have nothing to do with the Obama Administration or the US government. What does have everything to do with that, and what is ignored in this article and by the UN, is, as you put it, mass state-sponsored murder and other horrors perpetrated and/or funded by the US government. So we're in agreement.

  2. What about hippies? What human rights do hippies have? They are excluded from labor markets, so they can't provide for their families. They can't practice their religion, which is to get high, without exposing themselves to arrest.

  3. Actually – you are a rights violator. Take a look at the declaration of human rights:

    Article 23.

    * (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    * (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    * (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    Article 25.

    * (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    1. Yes, according to UN it is the states obligation to take care of all its citizens. That is usually done with taxes where you have the right to the money I pay. By using taxes that way, US could actually be counted among the industrialized countries with universal healthcare and work for its citizens.

      Instead it has an unemployment rate of over 20% and people dying without care. That is a crime and a violation of the Human Rights. In my country, sweden, people that need health care have a right to my tax money. As it should be. That is the case in all countries of the western world.

      Apart from US.

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