“This is a confusing article on GuantÃ¡namo,” 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.