Skip to comments.Amnesty International's Week for Student Action
Posted on 04/09/2004 6:19:59 PM PDT by It's me
Recently many eager students took time out of their day to "take action" against various evils in the world, specifically violence against women, by writing letters organized through a campaign by Amnesty International as part of their National Week of Student Action. This is a noble cause, one might think; the event, at my school, was advertised with such slogans as Pope Paul VI's quote, "If you want peace, work for justice." But Amnesty International deserves a closer look. As with every activist group, Amnesty International has a clear agenda underlying every action, and they have a stake in every issue confronting the world today.
Amnesty International has campaign on the United States to achieve six main objectives. Worst among these is their cry for the United States to ratify various international treaties, especially ones arising from United Nations conventions. Amnesty International demands that the US to "Ratify, without reservations, human rights treaties that it has not yet ratified, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women," and others. It's quite a long list of treaties designed to slowly erode our national sovereignty and eventually reduce us to little more than puppets in the weak and inefficient hands of the United Nations. But perhaps, since these treaties sound appealing to some, we should examine some of these conventions.
The treaty from the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women arises from the notion that women are dreadfully unequal to men in the eyes of the law, and women are still suffering blatant discrimination day after day. But that premise is faulty because it simply is not true for the United States. Women here are legally equal to men. We can own property, vote, hold the same jobs as men, and so forth. The treaty, in so far as it claims to advance women's legal rights, is pointless. The treaty does not stop at "equal rights." These crafters of universal equality have added a provision for "The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods." This means that anyone teaching that women are perhaps more adept at motherhood than men would be guilty of promoting "stereotyped concepts" and would thus be violating an international treaty. We cannot pretend that men and women are the same thing, which is what this treaty would promote. Men and women should have the same legal rights, but showing a picture of a woman wearing an apron and holding a baby is not a cruel abuse designed to promote evil stereotypes. It's an ideal that, by and large, is how women are or were for many centuries.
Moreover, the Convention provides many clauses safeguarding the right of women's access to "family planning." This is simply a delicate way to enumerate an inalienable right to abortions and contraception. The convention provides that women must have access to information about family planning and must have access to services related to family planning, and these rights can in no way be abridged. So, let's say the United States does ratify this treaty. That would mean that it would take precedence over the recently signed Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, if the ban were found to abridge a woman's right to "family-planning services."
So now we come to the rights of the child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child does say that children have a right to live, but we presume this means only once they have survived the womb. The convention does mention that the parents have primary responsibility for caring for a child, but the treaty is careful to safeguard the "right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion," the right of the child to "freedom of expression", the right of the child to have "access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health," and others. Children also must be free from all kinds of physical violence, and violence is never defined.
So, if I'm a parent, and my child decides to exercise his right to gather information from the mass media although I have told him to clean his room, then I must respect his right and I cannot use coercive "violence" applied to his backside or I cannot restrict his social well-being by confining him to his filthy room for a week in my efforts to convince him that his best interests really lie in having a clean and orderly room. Nor can I raise him according to my religious beliefs, says the treaty. After all, those in these international treaties think that religion is arbitrary and it would be unfair to my child to raise him into a healthy, responsible man with a respect and love for God. In fact, although I as the parent am the primary caregiver for the child, I really can hardly raise him at all. Amnesty International and those creating such silly treaties seem to think that children are miniature adults with the full capacities of a sagacious octogenarian. They are not; they are developing adults and must be properly guided and formed to be responsible, mature, and clean human beings.
Amnesty International is right about some things. It is horrible that political prisoners exist in squalid conditions all over the third world. It is a terrible thing that the governments of Communist China or North Korea or Cuba have thrown hundreds of political prisoners into prison without fair trials and killed millions more. But the unjust imprisonment of political prisoners are a symptom of the problem, and the solution does not arise from writing impassioned letters to Kim Jong Il but in eradicating the evil tyrannies that are violating their citizen's basic rights, and I mean the ones about life and liberty. The gulags of the Soviet Socialist Republics were only emptied by waging a cold war against the cause of the problem, the Communism that was driving the leaders of those nations to throw their opponents into jails. We did not solve the problems of human rights violations in the Middle East by writing Saddam Hussein a letter, or by raising awareness, or by offering counseling sessions to the leaders of the Baath party. As much as Amnesty International and their kind hate to admit it, peace is brought about by justice rigorously applied to those violating its principles.
Amnesty International is not interested in truly eradicating the causes of suffering and injustice in the world; they simply want people out of prisons. For the same reason, they have spearheaded a long campaign to have Mumia Abu-Jamal, a man convicted of killing a police officer in Philadelphia, released from prison. It's not because he's innocent, but because they hate the thought of criminals in prison or wrongdoers being punished. Amnesty International is also clamoring for the United States to address the problem of "police brutality." This means they want police to abandon not only the use of guns but to use milder weapons, such as electric shock devices or pepper spray, only under "strict guidelines." The notion that there are laws, and some people break them and commit crimes and should be punished, and sometimes punishments can be unsavory or sometimes law enforcement has to use severe means of subduing dangerous criminals, has hardly entered the minds of Amnesty International activists.
Those at Amnesty International are right in trying to stop child prostitution, or trying to stop violent discrimination against women. But every one of their noble ideas is tainted by their agenda poking its sharp edges through even the most wholesome or reasonable campaign. And supporting even the most justifiable of their claims or campaigns is ultimately supporting all of their ideals, even the ones naming abortion as a universal right or the right of the child not to be raised by his parents. Letter-writing campaigns, awareness-raising, and international treaties are not the solutions to the problems Amnesty International has identified; justice is. The problem is that Amnesty International does not know what justice is.
Prior to 9/11 it was the easy way to get to the US. Everyone abroad knew it even OBL. The American people only knew the loophole when terrorists were caught bent on destruction for Millennium festivities.
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