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E-Pluribus | August 12, 2022
The US abdicates leadership regarding global religious freedom, the politics of "human rights" organizations, and the non-profit group pushing gender ideology on school children.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Thomas Farr: American Diplomacy Abandons Religious Freedom
From the Pilgrims to the Puritan to the First Amendment to believers of scores of various faiths over the centuries, the New World and America always meant religious freedom. At the Wall Street Journal, Thomas Farr writes that the US’s leadership on this issue is in jeopardy, at least in part due to the Biden State Department’s deprecation of the right to religious freedom, even here at home.
Weakened protections for religious practice at home harm faithful citizens. They gravely affect those abroad, too. By pushing religion to the margins, we undermine our moral leadership and ability to aid the millions of people—Christians, Muslims, Jews, Yazidis, Bahá’ís and others—who are persecuted for their religious beliefs.
[ . . . ]
[In 1998,] Mr. Clinton signed the International Religious Freedom Act, designed not only to reduce persecution of religious minorities abroad but to convince nations that religious freedom promotes pluralism, economic growth, stability and security.
IRFA created a new mission in the State Department, led by an ambassador at large for international religious freedom. While the office has struggled to integrate itself within the department’s foreign policy since its founding, a series of ambassadors had begun to make significant progress. Though an outstanding diplomat holds that post today, the administration’s policies have fundamentally undermined his office’s operating premises.
The State Department disavowed the work of its Commission on Unalienable Rights, a panel then-Secretary Mike Pompeo assembled in July 2019 “to ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” When the commission published its report a year later, its central contention was that certain rights—including religious freedom—are given by God to every person and may not be removed by government. The report recommended this powerful and humane idea be strengthened in American diplomacy.
Two months into office Secretary of State Antony Blinken renounced the framework: “There is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others.” The implication is that governments can manufacture rights they favor and simply deem them universal. Look how that’s worked out in China, Iran or Russia.
Read it all.
Gerald M. Steinberg: False Accusations and Ideological Bias
The Russian-Ukrainian war has provided yet another opportunity for human rights groups to end up on the wrong side. Gerald Steinberg details for Quillette how Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, good intentions notwithstanding, have given cover to Russia in its unjust pummeling of Ukraine.
The intense debate triggered by an Amnesty International report alleging Ukrainian violations of international law highlights wider questions of credibility and bias in the campaigns led by powerful NGOs which purport to advance human rights agendas. The pronouncements of the two superpowers—Amnesty and Human Rights Watch—are routinely transcribed directly into media headlines, and then uncritically cited in academic publications. Their agendas are central to determining the priorities of international institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, and officials move back and forth between the NGOs and these international bodies.
But as the Ukraine report and other examples demonstrate, NGO claims are often constructed on weak foundations. Although Amnesty officials repeat the mantra that they are politically neutral and simply report what they observe, the focus and timing of their activities are inherently political. With a massive public relations machine at its disposal (Amnesty’s total annual budget exceeds €350 million), the publication and accompanying media blasts of war crime allegations and accusations that states are “putting civilians in harm’s way” have an immediate impact on public opinion and governmental policies. In this case, Russia—and Western opponents of assistance to Ukraine—seized on Amnesty’s report to bolster their positions. Examining the credibility of NGO reports is therefore of pressing importance.
[ . . . ]
As members of the international human rights community, the new leaders of these NGOs embraced a post-colonial political ideology that was anti-Western and implicitly anti-democracy. Although they maintained that they were above politics, the top officials in Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and similar groups were in fact deeply involved in partisan political movements and used tendentious interpretations of international and human rights law to promote their agendas.
Read the whole thing.
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Christopher F. Rufo: Soldiers for the Gender Revolution
While the gender identity movement has suffered some setbacks lately, Christopher Rufo reports at City Journal that K-12 students across the country are still being indoctrinated daily via GSA Network which has situated itself into educational institutions nationwide. Through the “toolkits” it offers to teachers and schools looking for “tolerance” education materials, GSA flies under the radar at many schools, influencing even very young children with an ideology that stands sharply at odds with what many parents may wish for their offspring.
According to the [GSA Network] organization’s publicly accessible materials and administrative documents, the GSA Network’s ideology follows the basic framework of radical gender theory: white European men created an oppressive system based on capitalism, white supremacy, and “heteronormativity”—that is, the promotion of heterosexuality, the male-female binary, and bourgeois family norms. In order to fight back, racial and sexual minorities must unite under the banner of “intersectionality” and dismantle the interlocking “systems of oppression.”
The GSA Network isn’t subtle about its political objectives. In a manifesto, the organization calls for the “abolition of the police,” the “abolition of borders and ICE,” the payment of “reparations” to minorities, the “decolonization” of native lands, the end of “global white supremacy,” and the overthrow of the “cisgender heterosexual patriarchy.” The organization is also explicitly anti-capitalist: its literature is littered with references to “anti-capitalism” and, during one board meeting, its leaders fantasized about what life would be like “after capitalism falls.”
Read it all here.
The Democratic Party is often accused of reflexively lurching leftward. Via Persuasion, Seth Moskowitz says there are signs the fever is breaking:
Excerpts from a Foundation for Individual Rights & Expression thread on increasingly burdensome DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies at universities:
And finally, Peter Boghossian on cancelling Abraham Lincoln: