Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

American Human Rights Violations

January 31, 2013

Last may, The People’s Republic of China released its report on the human rights violations committed by the US government. I suppose that this was some sort of response to the US State Department‘s annual report on the human rights violations committed by the Chinese government. The Chinese report makes for interesting reading. According to them, America is a country that routinely suppresses the rights and aspirations of its citizen, practices institutionalised discrimination against minorities, and locks up thousands of people for no reason. The press and Internet are subject to censorship and the police routinely abuse suspects in custody. Millions of Americans are desperately poor and the gap between rich and poor is widening. In other words, America is the sort of country China is.

I don’t know whether the authors of this report really believe what is written in it or if they are skilled propagandists. I suppose it really doesn’t matter much. This reminds me of the old argument the Soviets used during the Cold War. Sure, they would say, the Soviet Union doesn’t allow it’s people freedom of speech or religion, but we guarantee rights, such as the right to housing, education, medical care, that the Americans don’t, so each country is free, but in different ways.

I notice that the writers do not seem to be native English speakers. They write, and presumably speak, English fluently, and there are few obvious grammatical errors, but there seems to be odd word choices here and there, subtile hints that English is not their first language. I shouldn’t say anything though. Their English is much better than my Chinese which is nil.

But to get to my point, what would you think might be on the top of the list of American civil rights abuses? I would never have guessed the right to bear arms, but according to the Chinese, the fact that the US government allows private citizens to possess firearms is an example of how little the government cares for the lives of its citizens.

The United States prioritizes the right to keep and bear arms over the protection of citizens’ lives and personal security and exercises lax firearm possession control, causing rampant gun ownership. The U.S. people hold between 35 percent and 50 percent of the world’ s civilian-owned guns, with every 100 people having 90 guns (Online edition of the Foreign Policy, January 9, 2011). According to a Gallup poll in October 2011, 47 percent of American adults reported that they had a gun. That was an increase of six percentage points from a year ago and the highest Gallup had recorded since 1993. Fifty-two percent of middle-aged adults, aged between 35 and 54, reported to own guns, and the adults’ gun ownership in the south region was 54 percent (The China Press, October 28, 2011). The New York Times reported on November 14, 2011, that since 1995, more than 3,300 felons and people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors had regained their gun rights in the state of Washington and of that number, more than 400 had subsequently committed new crimes, including shooting and other felonies (The New York Times, November 14, 2011).

The United States is the leader among the world’s developed countries in gun violence and gun deaths. According to a report of the Foreign Policy on January 9, 2011, over 30,000 Americans die every year from gun violence and another 200,000 Americans are estimated to be injured each year due to guns (Online edition of the Foreign Policy, January 9, 2011). According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice, among the 480,760 robbery cases and 188,380 rape and sexual assault cases in 2010, the rates of victimization involving firearms were 29 percent and 7 percent, respectively (www.bjs.gov). On June 2, 2011, a shooting rampage in Arizona left six people dead and one injured (The China Press, June 3, 2011). In Chicago, more than 10 overnight shooting incidents took place just between the evening of June 3 and the morning of June 4 (Chicago Tribune, June 4, 2011). Another five overnight shootings occurred between August 12 evening and August 13 morning in Chicago. These incidents have caused a number of deaths and injuries (Chicago Tribune, August 13, 2011). Shooting spree cases involving one gunman shooting dead over five people also happened in the states of Michigan, Texas, Ohio, Nevada and Southern California (The New York Times, October 13, 2011; CNN, July 8, 2011; CBS, July 23, 2011;USA Today, August 9, 2011). High incidence of gun-related crimes has long ignited complaints of the U.S. people and they stage multiple protests every year, demanding the government strictly control the private possession of arms. The U.S. government, however, fails to pay due attention to this issue.

I would say that right now the government is paying too much attention to this issue. Notice how they have nothing to say about the fact that large numbers of Americans support the right to bear arms and much of the reason that the US government is unable to enact significant gun control is precisely because it is so unpopular. I don’t imagine that public opinion means very much to the people running China.

I wonder what the crime rate in China is and how it compares to America’s. I am not at all sure they keep accurate statistics. I also wonder if certain events in China’s recent history might have turned out differently if the Chinese had the right to bear arms.

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Profile in Folly

July 23, 2012

 

I came across this opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle, which grants John McCain a profile in courage for his opposition to an investigation of Huma Abedin, a Deputy Chief of Staff for Hilary Clinton who may have some links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the 1950s, Sen. Joe McCarthy and other paranoid anti-communists saw Reds under the bed – and in the State Department. Today a fringe group of conservatives believes similarly that Islamic fundamentalists have infiltrated the deepest recesses of the American government.

In refuting such an aspersion made by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., against a State Department official, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has struck a profile in courage that should encourage other conservatives to distance themselves from crackpot conspiracy theories.

On Wednesday McCain defended Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American who serves as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In a letter to the inspector general of the State Department, Bachmann and four other Republican representatives had warned that Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide, “has three family members – her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” The letter was one of five sent to inspectors general of various agencies citing “serious security concerns” about Muslim Brotherhood penetration.

Now, as it happens, those paranoid anti-Communists were absolutely correct. There really were Communists in the State Department who really were spying for the Soviet Union and really were trying to influence policy. Joe McCarthy was right. The problem with Sen McCarthy was that he was something of a bully and a buffoon who brought discredit on a very important cause. After fall of the Soviet Union, the KGB archives were briefly opened for inspection and McCarthy and others have been vindicated. If anything, US counter-intelligence agencies were not paranoid enough.

The Soviet Union is gone and China is trying to become, well whatever China is trying to become, not doctrinaire Communist at any rate. We have nothing to fear from Communism anymore. This does not mean we have no enemies. As incredible as it may seem, there really are people in the world who hate America and seek to do us harm. Where would I get such a crazy idea?

 

I can’t imagine.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization dedicated to setting up Sharia Islamic rule wherever they can. They are close to gaining power in Egypt, and other Middle-Eastern nations, and they do not like the United States. They are smarter than al-Qaeda, though, and while they are willing to use violent terrorism when necessary, they are aware that violence is often counter-productive, especially in Western countries. Therefore, many members of the Muslim Brother prefer to use what they call “stealth jihad”, that is slowly and quietly gaining control of a country’s institutions with the ultimate aim of imposing Shariah.

It might be easy to dismiss this, and the Muslim Brother does not have the resources or sophistication that the Communists had. Fewer well educated Westerners are likely to become enamored with an Islamist organisation than they were with various Communist Parties. Still, it would be foolish to ignore the very real threat that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists pose. Perhaps as foolish as pretending that the Soviets were no threat.

Numa Abedin apparently has relatives who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is likely that she herself has no Islamist sympathies but it is not paranoid or foolish to investigate the matter, nor is it being an islamophobe (whatever that is exactly) to suggest that anyone with connections with an organization hostile to the United States not be permitted access to any classified material. John McCain is not being courageous here. he is being a fool.
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