Once the Obama administration decided last year to join the circus known as the United Nations Human Rights Council, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. faced judgment day on its own human rights record before this dysfunctional UN body.
Our turn came on November 5, 2010. “It is an honor to be in this chamber,” said Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer to the council on the occasion of America’s examination. ”Star chamber” would be a more fitting description.
The “honor” that Brimmer was referring to was being present at the council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing. The UPR is a rotating periodic examination of all UN member states’ human rights records by the Human Rights Council. The council includes such countries as China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These serial human rights abusers exploit the UPR process to heap praise on each other and whitewash their own abysmal records, while scoring propaganda points against Western democracies with baseless accusations.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the Human Rights Council, captured perfectly the absurdity of America in the dock: “the U.N. system failed today by allowing non-democracies to hijack the session for political propaganda and to drum up anti-American sentiment worldwide.”
Predictably, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, Algeria, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Libya, and other dictatorships and terrorist-sponsoring states accused America of genocide, war crimes, and systematic anti-Muslim and anti-African racism.
For example, Cuban ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez called on the U.S. to end its blockade of the island country, calling it a “crime of genocide.” In addition, Cuba condemned the U.S. for “violations against migrants and mentally ill persons” and called on America to “ensure the right to food and health” for all citizens.
Iran’s delegation demanded the U.S. “halt serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law and even told the United States it needed to “combat violence against women.” Meanwhile, Iran is preparing to execute a woman on trumped up adultery charges.
Libya complained about U.S. “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”
North Korea, whose people are literally starving while the regime pursues its militaristic ambitions, told the U.S. “to address inequalities in housing, employment and education.”
The Obama administration should have seen this “bash America” circus coming. Just last year, a report highly critical of the United States – prepared by the United Nations’ former special rapporteur on “contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” Dr. Doudou Diène – was submitted to the very same UN Human Rights Council that is judging the United States’ human rights record today. Diène comes from Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country and a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
In his report, which Diène wrote following his three week “fact-finding” tour in this country that included meetings with various Islamic groups, Diène concluded that “racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society.” He went on to say that the “historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life of American society” and lashed out at what he characterized as “racial profiling” against “people of Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Middle-Eastern descent.”
The current special rapporteur who replaced Diène, Githu Muigai, is not as anti-American as Diène, but has still managed to take a gratuitous swipe at the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law which, he claimed, compromises basic international human rights that migrants are entitled to.
“This is the sort of statute that opens a floodgate, equips a policeman or such other law enforcement person on the beat with such immense powers as to compromise…the very fundamental human rights that ought to be enjoyed in such an enlightened part of the world as Arizona,” Muigai told reporters at a press conference at UN headquarters last week. He contined:
If I have found any specific group of people to be the subject of the most insidious contemporary forms of racial discrimination, those are migrants. And I think in many parts of the world today, immigrants bear the brunt of xenophobic intolerance and this is true of the United States and it is of Europe, and it is of many parts of the world.
It has been often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. Yet that is precisely what the Obama administration has done in submitting our country’s human rights record to the judgment of the UN Human Rights Council, knowing full well the biases that prevail there.
As former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton put it, “For the Obama administration, this is an exercise in self flagellation, which they seem to enjoy. But it doesn’t prompt equivalent candor from the real rights abusers.”
First, the Obama administration erred when it decided to join the dysfunctional Human Rights Council last year, thereby legitimizing it. Nothing changed as a result of our participation. One-sided condemnations of Israel continued to pour out of the council while the world’s true human rights abusers were let off the hook. The council also continued its regular practice of passing resolutions declaring “defamation of religions” (specifically Islam) to be a violation of international law.
Second, the Obama State Department embarrassed the United States when it submitted a self-critical report to the council that highlighted the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law and alleged discrimination against Muslim Americans. In fact, the Obama administration went out of its way while preparing the report to consult, in its own words, “with Muslims, Native Americans, African Americans and other minority groups, to assess the extent of domestic rights violations.”
In the Obama administration’s report to the UN Human Rights Council, it threw the state of Arizona under the bus. It bragged about hauling Arizona into court for simply trying to help the federal government enforce the country’s immigration laws:
A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.
Referring to the Arizona law during the course of the UN Human Rights Council’s November 5th hearing, the U.S. representative said that the U.S. will continue to oppose the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law. The U.S. representative also criticized the United States for its past “problematic” criminal justice record.
Concerning alleged Islamophobia in the United States, the Obama administration’s report to the UN Human Rights Council assured the council that it had consulted the “victims” of alleged anti-Muslim discrimination in America:
At our UPR consultations, including the meeting in Detroit, Michigan, Muslim, Arab-American, and South Asian citizens shared their experiences of intolerance and pressed for additional efforts to challenge misperceptions and discriminatory stereotypes, to prevent acts of vandalism, and to combat hate crimes.
The Obama administration’s consultations included discussions with Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council American Islamic Relations. Walid believes in the supremacy of Sharia law in the event of a conflict with the laws of the United States, where he has chosen to live. He is quoted as saying: ”We should obey the laws of the United States of America, except when those laws bar us from those things that are obligations [of] our religion.”
In a trip abroad this year to Mali that was organized by Michigan State University but funded by the federal government, Walid delivered a message which, in his own words, “stated that Muslims in America have many challenges from Islamophobia to unjust government policies that profile us.”
Walid has also been reported to have participated in illegal alien demonstrations against immigration enforcement.
Yet this radical Islamist is one of the folks with whom the Obama administration chose to consult in doing “research” for its report to the UN Human Rights Council.
In short, the Obama administration has once again shown its willingness to engage in a humiliating mea culpa for the alleged sins of the United States in order to court favorable world opinion.
We have a president who does not believe in American exceptionalism. Obama believes the United States has historically been too powerful for its own good and bears guilt for its racist past. Don’t forget that this is the same man who, back in 2001, criticized our Founding Fathers for “shackling” the government with “negative liberties” – placing limitations on governmental power – rather than specifying what the government “must do” for its citizens by means of redistributive policies.
Thus, Obama’s philosophy is not that far apart in some ways from various of our country’s severest critics. It is no wonder that he is willing to submit the United States’ human rights record to their judgment.
Joseph A. Klein is the author of a new book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam.