Getting to the Point: U.S. is in a super league of its own on human rights violation
The U.S. State Department released its annual report on human rights practices in 2018 on Wednesday, putting countries around the world under the microscope, but not itself.
Of course, the practice was not designed for American soul-searching, but for Congress to decide where to send foreign aid. The U.S. government and mainstream media have confused the ideals imagined by America's founding fathers as realities on the ground. The real question is, is there a problem with the human rights situation within the U.S.?
Yes, a big one. In fact, it's gotten worse since President Trump came to power.
According to a UN report released last May by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the U.S., Philip Alston exposed a dark picture.
Take poverty as an example. There are 18.5 million Americans living in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million in absolute poverty.
Compared to other developed countries: the U.S. has the highest income inequality, the highest youth poverty rate, one of the highest infant mortality rates. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives. It also has the world's highest incarceration rate.
The report says: “For almost five decades, the overall policy response has been neglectful at best, but the policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”
The report called the impact of the judicial system upon the poor “utterly disproportionate negative” and the U.S. racial divide “shameful” because of long-term structural discrimination on the basis of race.
I would like to mention here that China lifted 700 million people out of poverty over the past four decades.
In terms of inequality, can the U.S. not be called a super “league of its own on human rights violations”? to borrow an expression from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Instead of looking at others' human rights records, the U.S. should invest more in its domestic policies to eradicate any such shameful situation.
Human rights discussions are emotive. We are talking about the poor, the homeless, the sick, the vulnerable, the mistreated… They need help instead of being used as a tool to name and shame countries along ideological lines. Such practices will backfire as the U.S.' own human rights record is far from being glorious.
What is the right approach to address the issue then?
Countries should sincerely talk to one another and learn from one another's good practices to stop the chase to the bottom in terms of mutual accusation. Poverty and human rights violations are a universal problem, whether it happens in China or the U.S.
Cooperation will benefit everyone. But the U.S.'s withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council sends a message to the world about its willingness to initiate dialogue and to cooperate with the international community.
As for the situation in Xinjiang, China has invited several batches of foreign journalists and diplomats to see the situation for themselves. China has also expressed openness to receiving UN officials in the region. China adheres to the UN Charter, which respects countries' sovereignty and non-interference in one another's internal affairs and is willing to stay in contact with relevant organs of the UN and move toward each other.
For a diplomat, words matter. But to solve problems, actions count even more. Stopping the mudslinging at others is a useful first step.
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