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Wrong Rights

Obama and Clinton lead human rights astray.

8:00 AM, Jun 25, 2010 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
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It’s been a rough seventeen months for Americans whose calling is to fight for the rights of people who’ve been stripped of them by force—young men and women beaten to death in full view of the world by the agents of their oppressors for daring to demand that their votes be counted; others hacked to death with the complicity of the autocrats in power over them for having been born the wrong color or to the wrong tribe; girls subjected to the lash, or, worse, murdered by their own mothers, fathers, or brothers for appearing in public in the wrong company; believers imprisoned for professing faith in the wrong god or the wrong political system; non-believers sentenced to death for “wronging” a wrathful, vengeful religion. And it’s been a dreadful period for the victims themselves, left as they have been to ask themselves in silent desperation what has become of their champion. At the despot-happy opening act of his presidency the current occupant of the Oval Office announced that these people weren’t going to be his business, and though his secretary of state might have seen to them—it being actually within her reach to become the voice of the world’s voiceless, with a whole Human Rights Bureau designated for that very job just down the hall—she never has managed to get really full-throated about it.

Wrong Rights

Until now. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have found some victims of rights-transgression who are of very great interest to them – indeed, since, some of them are here at home, and sinned against by America herself!

Welcome to the human rights policy of the Obama administration:  By presidential proclamation, June has been declared Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, or just plain Pride Month for short, because, the president says, “An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.” (And by the way, how come they only get a month? Why shouldn’t they get a whole year?)

Of course, there cannot be an Obamic proclamation without some serious self-congratulation for the directing of people to do things they are already doing and instituting of policies that are already in place, and he doesn’t disappoint:

My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.  We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban.  I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.

Bad and ludicrous enough. But it’s Mrs. Clinton’s fawning speech in honor of “Pride Month,” which she delivered the other day to members of the “LGBT community” who have fanned out from the mother-ship of state, as it were, into the wide and widely diversity-intolerant world to set things right, that’s the truly breathtaking expression of this perversion of a policy.

Here are the highlights:

This is a human rights issue. (Applause.) Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, well, let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights, once and for all. (Applause.) . . . . We are elevating our human rights dialogues with other governments and conducting public diplomacy to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. Our regional bureaus are working closely with our embassies on this issue. . . . I’m asking every regional bureau to make this issue a priority. (Applause.) . . . . I think that each and every one of you not only professionally, particularly from State and USAID in every bureau and every embassy and every part of our government, have to do what you can to create that safe space, but also personally to really look for those who might need a helping hand, particularly young people, particularly teenagers who still, today, have such a difficult time and who still, in numbers far beyond what should ever happen, take their own lives rather than live that life. So I would ask you to please think of ways you can be there for everyone who is making this journey to defend not only human rights globally, but to truly defend themselves and their rights.

Once upon a time we had a president with a very different vision of the meaning of human rights:

In this room are dissidents and democratic activists from 17 countries on five continents . . . united by an unwavering conviction: that freedom is the non-negotiable right of every man, woman, and child, and that the path to lasting peace in our world is liberty. (Applause.) . . . . I have asked Secretary Rice to send a directive to every U.S. ambassador in an un-free nation: Seek out and meet with activists for democracy. Seek out those who demand human rights. (Applause.) . . . . People living in tyranny need to know they are not forgotten. North Koreans live in a closed society where dissent is brutally suppressed, and they are cut off from their brothers and sisters to the south. The Iranians are a great people who deserve to chart their own future, but they are denied their liberty by a handful of extremists whose pursuit of nuclear weapons prevents their country from taking its rightful place amongst the thriving. The Cubans are desperate for freedom—and as that nation enters a period of transition, we must insist on free elections and free speech and free assembly. (Applause.) And in Sudan, freedom is denied and basic human rights are violated by a government that pursues genocide against its own citizens. My message to all those who suffer under tyranny is this: We will never excuse your oppressors. We will always stand for your freedom. (Applause.)

A mere three years have passed since President Bush uttered those words in Prague. It feels like a lifetime ago.

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