Friday, December 11, 2009
While going on at length about the sometimes necessity of fighting, he was rather vague about the actual principles upon which this necessity might hinge. Judging from his administration's unwillingness to even engage diplomatically on the side of freedom and democracy in either Honduras or Iran (and actually officially siding against it in the case of the former), it seems fair to conjecture that this is not a principle upon which this President would rather fight than switch. Amongst the specifics he does mention, though, we find "human rights" and "economic injustice."
While it is difficult for anyone to find fault with the first in general, this very universal acknowledgement and acceptance has, in the last couple of decades, meant the co-opting of this rather nebulous phrase by almost anyone or any group advocating for anything. Some, for example, believe the causes of government guaranteed universal housing, food and health care fall under the banner of "human rights." Based upon his domestic legislative priorities, one might feel comfortable assuming the President falls more into this camp than any other. Considering that the President has often expressed confidence in the UN, perhaps we should explore some of what they believe are human rights, as set forth in their Universal Declaration of Human Rights: (emphasis added, comments in italics)
- Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(justification for "hate speech" laws?)
- Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(I'm not sure how the government is supposed to sponsor everyone's dignity, but I'm sure someone will try and tell me)
- Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(so, the government needs to guarantee you a job?)
- Article 23. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(there's an awful lot of nebulous "dignity" talk going around)
- Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(this human rights thing is sounding to me more and more like an employment contract between the government and its citizens)
- Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(note to freeloader wannabes: pay attention to the use of the adjective "adequate")
- Article 26. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(oh, well, guess we can forget this one...)
All of which leads to some interesting questions, if only one were to ask. If, as he said, the President believes "that a nation's hostility towards human rights and economic injustice cannot be allowed to thrive," and if we accept the concepts of "human rights" and "economic injustice" as outlined above, then how does that belief square against both the laws and capitalistic economic model of the very country he leads? Would one be justified in concluding that this has everything to do with his pledge to fundamentally remake the country? Or will we be encouraged by our "betters" to, once again, ignore the man behind the curtain and pay attention to the smoke and mirrors he presents instead?