February 15, 2008

Bush Defends America’s Indefensible Human Rights Record

By David A. Love
Published By The Black Commentator

February 14, 2008

On February 21 and 22, U.S. State Department and Department of Justice are going to Geneva to defend George Bush’s record on human rights and racial discrimination. But what does one say about a record that cannot be defended?

Specifically, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will take a look at United States compliance - or rather, noncompliance - with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, also known as the Race Convention or ICERD.

The Race Convention defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” Notice the emphasis on purpose or effect.

Ratified by the U.S. in 1994, the Race Convention is one of those international treaties that have become part of U.S. law. However, this and other international conventions pose an inconvenience because they are more progressive and inclusive than the Constitution, based on universal standards and are free from the baggage and hangups of America’s sordid and tortured history. And some American politicians and jurists prefer to ignore America’s international obligations and dispose of these conventions like discarded junk mail or yesterday’s newspaper.

In a recent Color of Law commentary, I discussed a shadow report by the over 250-member US Human Rights Network (USHRN), which claims that America is failing to comply with its obligations under the Race Convention. The shadow report was a response to an April 2007 report submitted by the U.S. government on its compliance with ICERD, a report that all signatory nations are required to submit every two years. The U.S. report angered the human rights community, and according to critics it represented a whitewashing of America’s racial problems.

“Our analysis reveals that the Bush Administration is utterly out of touch with the reality of racial discrimination in America,” said Ajamu Baraka, the Executive Director of the USHRN. “From failing to address the chronic persistence of structural racism to even acknowledging the disparate racial impact on people of color of Hurricane Katrina, the State Department reports reads like a fantasy; unfortunately a fantasy that is to often experienced as a nightmare for Americans of color,” Baraka added.

So, exactly how will the Bush administration defend their atrocious record on racial discrimination?

Will they say that the victims of Hurricane Katrina were already poor and had nothing to lose, and that Brownie did a heck of a job?

Will Bush’s yes men and women sugarcoat the problem of race-based police brutality and pretend it doesn’t exist?

What of the school-to-prison pipeline that criminalizes youth, and condemns poor children and children of color to underperforming schools, few opportunities and a life behind bars? Certainly, the Bush regime will claim that these children need to buckle down, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, study hard and play by the rules.

Blacks and Latinos make up 60 percent of the 2.5 million Americans behind bars in the United States. But what will the U.S. government say about the alarming disparities in the criminal justice system? “These people commit more crime,” they will respond.

What of the continued colonialism and racial oppression experienced by America’s indigenous population? “What indigenous population?,” Bush will ask.

And what about the post-9/11 epidemic of hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs and South Asians, perpetrated by law enforcement agencies in the form of round-ups, interrogations and registration programs? “These people are Islamofascist terrorists who hate us for our freedom,” the government will likely say.

So, how do you defend the indefensible? The Bush administration pretends the problem doesn’t exist, and tells the victim to stop playing the victim and show some personal responsibility. On the issue of human rights, this administration never fails to disappoint.

2 comments:

Knight of Pan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Knight of Pan said...

I agree that Bush's record on Human Rights is terrible, especially the "renditions," torture,etc.

As far as racial discrimination goes I don't know. You wrote, " The Race Convention defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

One could argue that having quotas or preferences to hire minorities discriminates against whites.

You talk about the high percent of balcks and latinos behind bars. But if you look at the statistics they show that the majority of violent crime is black on black. That being the case it would stand to reason that more blacks would be arrested. To leave them alone to avoid the appearance of picking on minorities would be to sentence the vast majority of black people who want to live in peace to a further victimhood at the hands of thses thugs. Speaking of numbers, at least here in Minnesota the number of whites incarcerated has surpassed that of blacks thanks to meth.

On to Katrina. That was a cluster f#@k from the git go. There was government failure on every level, from Nagin all the way to FEMA. I don't think race had anything to do with it. Although Nagin's "chocolate city" comments does make some of us question his idea of fairness.

The treatment of the native Americans is an obvious legal shortcoming. Treaties still not being honored, etc.

Does discrimination exist? Yes, but I don't know one can say it's institutional. There are individuals of all rces that discriminate. There are also many laws that can be utilized to punish. That being said, you can legislate fair treatment. You can't legislate love or respect. Only time and common sense can bring that about.

You said, "And what about the post-9/11 epidemic of hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs and South Asians, perpetrated by law enforcement agencies in the form of round-ups, interrogations and registration programs?"

I have mixed thoughts on this. Our country was attacked, civilians. If a religion/philosophy goes beyond their right to practice their religion into the realm of mass murder there's going to be a backlash, rightfully so. A government's first priority should be the protection of it's people. These people would deprive us of our rights.

**Nice blog.