by Zoltan Zigedy For nearly three hundred and fifty years, human rights have been important, if not dominant, instruments in the endeavor for social justice. For much of this history, contestants have cited universal rights as marking their position on the field of struggle. It is equally important to notice that before the seventeenth century, social justice was more often than not contested in a language other than rights-talk. If Froissart’s Chronicles are to be believed, the Jacquerie of the French countryside and the English peasantry of the 1381 uprising knew no full-blown notion of universal human rights. Instead, they … Continue reading Human Rights: A Marxian perspective
by Diana Johnstone Opposing genocide has become a sort of cottage industry in the United States. Everywhere, “genocide studies” are cropping up in universities. Five years ago, an unlikely “Genocide Prevention Task Force” was set up headed by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former defense secretary William Cohen, both veterans of the Clinton administration. The Bible of the campaign is Samantha Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”. Ms. Power’s thesis is that the U.S. Government, while well-intentioned, like all of us, is too slow to intervene to “stop genocide”. It is a suggestion that the U.S. government embraces, even to taking … Continue reading Taking notes 17: The good intentions that pave the road to war
by Coleen Rowley A number of human rights issues converged on Friday January 11, 2013. In Washington DC and many other cities around the country, including the Twin Cities, people will don orange “Gitmo” jumpsuits and black hoods to protest the 11th year anniversary-travesty of Guantanamo as well as the (bizarrely coincidental) national release of the despicable, CIA-inspired “zero conscience” film that falsely conveys the message that torture “works” and is somehow heroic. The third, far less known issue involves the resignation (effective on January 11) of Suzanne Nossel, Director of Amnesty International-USA. Her resignation after only one year as American Director would be … Continue reading Taking notes 11: Torture is wrong but so is the supreme war crime
by Zoltan Zigedy Amnesty International has a bee under its bonnet. A human rights advocate, educator, and labor attorney, Dan Kovalik, mustered the audacity to challenge the world’s most prominent and highly regarded rights-based advocacy group. Claiming over three million members since its birth in 1961, AI is the poster child for modern “non-governmental organizations” or NGOs: The hundreds of thousands of hazy entities that play an ever-growing, influential role in international affairs. Despite AI’s sterling reputation among middle class liberals in the English-speaking world, Kovalik was troubled by AI’s stance on the war in Libya and its role in … Continue reading Taking notes 7: Human Rights or Imperial Partnership?