Move over Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria. The State Department has made it official: The United States violates human rights. In an unprecedented move, the Obama administration submitted a report to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights detailing the progress and problems in dealing with human rights issues in this country. The document is a strange combination of left-wing history and White House talking points.
It describes how the United States discriminates against the disabled, homosexuals, women, Native Americans, blacks, Hispanics and those who don’t speak English. There is the expected pandering to Muslims, noting that the government is committed to “challenge misperceptions and discriminatory stereotypes, to prevent acts of vandalism and to combat hate crimes,” offenses that the American people evidently keep committing. And the current economic woes are blamed on the housing crisis, which itself was the result of “discriminatory lending practices.” The implication is that if Americans had only been less racist, they would be enjoying prosperity today.
The report notes that until recently, the U.S. engaged in torture, unlawfully detained terrorist suspects and illegally spied on Americans communicating with terrorists - but the report assures readers that Mr. Obama has been putting a stop to all that.
The main impact of the document will be to confirm critiques of the United States as a haven for hatred and rights abuses. It turns the Obama administration’s domestic political agenda into an international scorecard by which other countries can judge American “progress.” And it makes it that much more difficult for those abroad who have held up the United States as a model for the kind of liberal, capitalistic democracy they would like to see in their own countries.
“Progress is our goal,” the report proclaims, “and our expectation thereof is justified by the proven ability of our system of government to deliver the progress our people demand and deserve.” This reflects the general tone of a report that sees the state, not the people, as the source of American progress. All the problems discussed have a corresponding federal solution, whether health care, nutrition, housing or any other issue. To read the report, one could conclude that, to the Obama administration, big government is not just everything - it is the only thing.
The authors claim that the United States does not, by filing the report, “acknowledge commonality with states that systematically abuse human rights,” but of course it does. Dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and theocracies competing for legitimacy on the world stage have been handed a potent new weapon, the kind of assessment they would never offer about their own governments. The report also cautions that it should not be read to reflect “doubt in the ability of the American political system to deliver progress for its citizens.” The authors of the report should understand that the doubts in the Obama administration to deliver progress are already well-established. And they come from the American people, who don’t need the United Nations telling them to shape up.