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Norman Solomon: The USAs Human Rights Daze

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laststeamtrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:06 PM
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The USAs Human Rights Daze
by Norman Solomon

The chances are slim that you saw much news coverage of Human Rights Day when it blew past the media radar as usual on Dec. 10. Human rights may be touted as a treasured principle in the United States, but the assessed value in medialand is apt to fluctuate widely on the basis of double standards and narrow definitions.

Every political system, no matter how repressive or democratic, is able to amp up public outrage over real or imagined violations of human rights. News media can easily fixate on stories of faraway injustice and cruelty. But the lofty stances end up as posturing to the extent that a single standard is not applied.

When U.S.-allied governments torture political prisoners, the likelihood of U.S. media scrutiny is much lower than the probability of media righteousness against governments reviled by official Washington.

But what are human rights anyway? In the USA, we mostly think of them as freedom to speak, assemble, worship and express opinions. Of course those are crucial rights. Yet they hardly span the broad scope thats spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

That document adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on Dec. 10, 1948 affirms human rights in the ways that U.S. media outlets commonly illuminate the meaning of the term. But the Declaration of Human Rights also defines the rights of all human beings to include freedom from fear and want and not only as generalities.

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