Rights Talk: Demopaths in the UN Edition

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Can liberal, rights-based society sustain itself under threats from inside (i.e. loss of respect for rule of law and tyranny) and outside (overtaken by enemies of liberal society)?

The Telos Journal blog recently assessed these developments, finding “The Declaration of Human Rights is being distorted and damaged in the very name of human rights.” Scholar Richard Landes has coined a useful term for this tragedy.

Demopaths are people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests, and not when it calls for self-criticism or self-restraint. Demopaths demand stringent levels of human “rights” but do not apply these basic standards for the “other” to their own behavior. The most lethal demopaths use democratic rights to destroy democracy.”

See below for commentary and choice excerpts from the Telos post.

Rights talk is shorthand for the decay of civic discourse posed by recent legal and cultural expansion of rights. Each right is inviolable and therefore claims need only be asserted louder than other claims. Consider rights of owls vs. loggers, babies/fetuses vs. mothers, free speech vs. hate speech, children vs. parents, etc. Mary Ann Glendon’s Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse superbly captures the dangers of this internal threat to our society.

Michael Igantieff’s Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry labels the twin dangers that challenge the effective  and responsible growth of human rights protections. The political study of human rights efforts depicts the clash between idealistic human rights promoters and manipulative anti-human rights regimes. This dynamic is exemplified in numerous United Nations human rights programs such as the UN Human Commission on Human Rights (notoriously lead by prominent human rights abusers Libya, China, Sudan) and the World Conference on Racism, Durban 2001, in which Israel, Zionism and Jews were represented as the greatest abusers of human rights globally while Mein Kampf was sold openly. Look forward to Geneva in April, 2009 for the next installment!

In Telos, the German-based journalist of Persian background wrote about the politics human rights today:

In June 2006, the Human Rights Council, with 47 members replaced the UN Commission for Human Rights . It was supposed to be an important step for the UN. It was intended to “protect and defend” human rights. The Council was supposed “to examine the human-rights condition in all member states and to insist that they respect human rights.” “If a member is accused of severe and systematic abuse of human rights,” it was to be “suspended.” Oh really?

With grand words and protected by ignorant Swiss hosts, the Human Rights Council is dominated by member states like Iran, Libya, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc.—countries in which there is no freedom, let alone any appreciation of democracy. These despotic states transparently misuse western achievements to pursue their own intolerance and antisemitism, while opposing principles of democracy and freedom.

Interestingly, it was the same states that abstained from voting for the Declaration of Human Rights on June 26, 1945, which staged the Durban event. In 1945 it was the Communist block and the Soviet Union along with Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Thanks to the “Islamic Revolution” of 1979, that same group has been joined by the Iranian mullahs, who have had thirty years to turn Iran into a prison,

In conclusion, the author issues a call to action:

It is the duty of every democrat to resist this development by supporting the abolition of the Human Rights Council. In addition, we should demand an alternative conference against racism in general and antisemitism in particular.

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