The new Commission on Unalienable Rights announced by the Trump administration on July 8, to be headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department, has raised a lot of eyebrows and questions. Not surprising really.
America’s Founding Fathers spelled out human rights in America’s Declaration of Independence in 1776, and America reaffirmed them and updated their definition in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. So what is the problem?
The problem is the Trump administration wants to take a new direction in foreign policy, “that takes seriously the founder’s idea of individual liberty and constitutional government,” according to Pompeo. Citing Alexis de Tocqueville’s belief in the American experiment, and that “democracies have a tendency to lose sight of the big picture in the hurly-burley of everyday affairs,” as justification for the review and update.
With this in mind, Pompeo added, “every once in a while, we need to step back and reflect seriously on where we are, where we’ve been, and whether we’re headed in the right direction.” Right direction? That is worrisome.
The commission will provide “fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”
Hmmm, that is definitely worrisome. The world and human rights of 1776, 1948 and today have changed. Slavery, women’s rights, gay and LGBT rights not to mention the human rights violations of North Korea, Saudi Arabia and other countries that violate basic human rights that triggered the U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
The appointment of Harvard Professor Mary Ann Glendon, a zealous well known opponent of abortion rights and same sex marriage is doubly worrisome. Especially since the majority of the committee are religious and conservative. Any wonder so many political commentators are questioning why the U.S. is doing so little to take up the mantra of human rights that are universally accepted, yet coddles its most violent abusers.
The Trump administration’s embrace and support of North Korea’s Kim and Saudi Arabia’s MBS, after their daily brutal human rights violations — and indiscriminate murder of political opponents, highlighted by the murder of Kim’s brother and MBS critic Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being their award-winning performances — are the ultimate human rights violations as defined by America’s Founding Fathers and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is a good time for America to embark on an honest soul-searching expedition to spell out what the basic human rights of Americans are when it comes to race, religion, sex and the rule of law, before it lectures China or any other country — except North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Syria — about human rights.
America has to practice what it preaches. Especially in today’s wired social media world inundated with fake news.
But then again with a 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon it is understandable, but unacceptable, for America to project its racist, sexist and religious human rights violations globally. If America is to continue holding its head up high as the beacon of basic human rights, the same rights that have made America great, domestically and globally, the Commission on Unalienable Rights must uphold the human rights declarations of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness that the Founding Fathers envisioned and spelled out in the Declarations of Independence and Universal Human Rights to keep America true to its founding ideals.