We are not a perfect nation- we never have been, we never will be, and most realistic people recognize that what makes us different from other nations is that when we identify our shortcomings, we attempt to do something about them . As Bernard Lewis notes:
We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet.
Is racism, then, the main grievance? Certainly the word figures prominently in publicity addressed to Western, Eastern European, and some Third World audiences. It figures less prominently in what is written and published for home consumption, and has become a generalized and meaningless term of abuse — rather like “fascism,” which is nowadays imputed to opponents even by spokesmen for one-party, nationalist dictatorships of various complexions and shirt colors.
Slavery is today universally denounced as an offense against humanity, but within living memory it has been practiced and even defended as a necessary institution, established and regulated by divine law. The peculiarity of the peculiar institution, as Americans once called it, lay not in its existence but in its abolition. Westerners were the first to break the consensus of acceptance and to outlaw slavery, first at home, then in the other territories they controlled, and finally wherever in the world they were able to exercise power or influence — in a word, by means of imperialism…
We acknowledge our shortcomings, and we try to overcome them:
In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation.
Enough table setting. This week, the United States released this report detailing Human Rights abuses by the interim government in Iraq:
The State Department on Monday detailed an array of human rights abuses last year by the Iraqi government, including torture, rape and illegal detentions by police officers and functionaries of the interim administration that took power in June.
In the Bush administration’s bluntest description of human rights transgressions by the American-supported government, the report said the Iraqis “generally respected human rights, but serious problems remained” as the government and American-led foreign forces fought a violent insurgency. It cited “reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions – particularly in pretrial detention facilities – and arbitrary arrest and detention.”
The lengthy discussion came in a chapter on Iraq in the department’s annual report on human rights, which pointedly criticized not only countries that had been found chronically deficient, like North Korea, Syria and Iran, but also some close American allies, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
The allegations of abuses by an Iraqi government installed by the United States and still heavily influenced by it provided an unusual element to the larger report. The report did not address incidents in Iraq in which Americans were involved, like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which came to light in 2004.
If you ever wondered why those on my side of the aisle look with disdain at the loony left, you need look no farther than the reactions to this report from the usual supects:
The America Blog (who put down Gannon’s penis long enough for some loud condemnation of the United States):
The irony is so thick here, I’m just gonna play it straight. In its annual roundup of human rights abuses from around the world, the US details the abuses of the interim Iraqi government, which include torture, rape and illegal detentions. Needless to say, none of these charges include the abuses of the US soldiers in Iraq, just the Iraqis. (Imagine them sorting it all out: “Hey, Ahmad, did you sodomize that 17 year old kid or was that me?”)
Of course, this Congressionally mandated annual report doesn’t detail the abuses by the US government either here in our country or anywhere else around the world. Obviously, it never occurred to anyone that we would ever be part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Sadly, there is virtually NOTHING we detail being done by other countries that the US cannot be justifiably accused of doing on some level as well.
I guess it will come as a relief that the America Blog has some champions abroad who agree with them who the real source of evil in the world is:
China issued a tit-for-tat report card Thursday on human rights in the United States that lambasted the Pentagon for “wanton slaughters” abroad, belittled American elections as awash in special-interest cash and accused U.S. courts of deep-seated racial bias.
Chinese government report, which portrayed the United States as gun-crazed and unfair to minorities, came three days after the State Department released its annual report on human rights abuses in countries around the world, including China.
It marked the sixth straight year that China has countered the American report with one of its own, but this year’s was particularly noteworthy because it condemned the United States for abuses by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news – web sites).
“In 2004, the atrocity of U.S. troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of the human rights performance of the United States,” the report said.
Instead of censuring other nations, the report urged the United States to “reflect on its erroneous behavior” and deal with “tons of problems in its own human rights.”
Fabulous. In the minds of the loony left and the corrupt and brutal Chinese regime, America is the problem.
*** Update ***
Oliver writes in the comments:
John, the true patriots look into their own nation, criticize and seek to improve it. Simply saying “China is WORSE!” does not make the problem go away or help America improve itself.
True patriots recognize the difference between murder and petty larceny. What the Chinese are doing, with their willing accomplices on the left, are muddying the water. The Chinese have no intention of stopping their Human Rights abuses- they just wish to badger us into submission so that we feel too guilty to mention their odious behavior. Stop helping them.
Pretend you are in a court of law where a man was accused of murder. In his defense, the accused stands up and says:
“The prosecutor once got into a bar fight.”
By the logic of Oliver and the the folks at Americablog- the accused murderer should go free.