Tag Archives: Guantanamo

60th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights

I come late to the party, honoring the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I won’t waste space here reinventing what news and commentary you can find elsewhere. I do want to mention the sad irony of the recent report of the Senate Armed Services Committee on detainee abuse under the Bush administration. The senators blame Donald Rumsfeld and the White House for countenancing and actively encouraging the torture of high-level detainees. On this point, among others, John McCain and Barack Obama had no differences during the campaign. January 20th cannot come too soon, to right the wrongs of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, etc. By denying the humanity and denying the rights all humans should be afforded, we are no better than the criminals, the terrorists or other evildoers we mistreat. But we need to move well beyond self-reflection and correction to stop coddling China, ignoring Darfur, and generally speaking–acting not simply on the basis of our American economic self-interest but on the basis of recognizing and supporting human rights everywhere. As an elective democracy, it is important to remember that the American people are sovereign. Presidents, congressmen and senators are elected to do our bidding. At the same time, we are all equally citizens of the world, with the opportunity to express ourselves and communicate with our fellow human beings wherever they may live around the globe.