Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Wrong Man's Values

The New York Times is in a bit of a snit that the President is, in their view, imposing his moral convictions concerning the humanity and worth of human embryos on the rest of us:

[The President's] actions are based on strong religious beliefs on the part of some conservative Christians, and presumably the president himself. Such convictions deserve respect, but it is wrong to impose them on this pluralistic nation.

These blastocysts, as they are called, bear none of the attributes we associate with humanity and, sitting outside the womb, have no chance of developing into babies. Some people consider them clumps of cells no different than other biological research materials. Others would grant them special respect but still make them available for worthy research. But Mr. Bush is imposing his different moral code on both, thereby slowing research that most consider potentially beneficial.

There is so much nonsense contained in these two paragraphs that it almost takes one's breath away.

First, the claim that GWB is imposing his moral beliefs upon others is absurd. Bush isn't forcing people to accept his view of the status of the embryo. He's simply saying that if you wish to destroy incipient human beings that's your business, but you can't expect taxpayers to compensate you for it.

Second, the Times complains that different people view the status of human embryos differently and that Mr. Bush is [unfairly] imposing his views on all of them. But someone's views must prevail in the debate over how these embryos are to be regarded by the federal government. Is the Times' problem that someone is imposing his views, or that the wrong person's views are being imposed?

Third, even if the President were "imposing" his beliefs about morality on others why would that be wrong? If one has the political power and constitutional authority to impose one's beliefs why, precisely, is it wrong to do so? Would the Times hesitate for one moment to impose its beliefs upon the nation were it to have the power to effect such a catastrophe?

In a secular society such as the Times yearns for the U.S. to be, right and wrong are merely functions of whatever the law allows. There is no appeal to some objective moral standard because secularists do not permit any such standard to be brought into play. Thus, whatever a man can legally do he has a "right" to do. In the secular state if Bush has the constitutional authority to impose his values on the rest of us then he has the right to do so, and the Times' complaints are just so much sour grapes.

The Decline of Amnesty International

Amnesty International's recent condemnation of the United States shows how ideologically blinkered that organization is. Amnesty calls for the arrest of several high administration officials should they stray into another country as did former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who was arrested in London in 1998.

"If the U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating all senior U.S. officials involved in the torture scandal," William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said.

"If those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them," he added. "The apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera..."

Torture and other grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions amount to crimes against humanity and therefore all states have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute people responsible for them, Amnesty said in its 308-page report.

George Bush is among a dozen former or current U.S. officials who should be probed by foreign governments....Others on the Amnesty list of potential targets for investigation and prosecution include Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief George Tenet.

Perhaps we just don't remember but has Amnesty ever called for the arrest of Fidel Castro, or, prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, of Saddam Hussein? Have they ever called for the arrest of any of the murderous tyrants in black Africa or of Kim Jong Il in North Korea? We don't recall.

Nor have they ever urged the arrest of any of the potentates in the Islamic world which is odd since part of the indictment against the United States is that it practices rendition of prisoners, i.e. we send them to their country of origin in the Mideast to be interrogated. This is severely criticized by organizations like Amnesty because everyone knows what happens to people in the prisons of Islamic countries. Well, if that's all true, why isn't Amnesty putting out an APB on the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. for the appalling abuses of human rights that occur regularly in those countries? Their focus on the United States seems to suggest an ideological antipathy that ill-becomes an organization which is supposed to be non-ideological.

Nor does Mr. Schulz seem to understand the implications of what it is he's urging some hapless country to do. He's calling for, say, Belgium, to arrest President Bush should GWB ever wander into Brussels. Has Mr. Schulz tried to imagine what would ensue if a foreign nation took into custody the President of the United States? Either the executive director of AI is a complete fool or he's deliberately trying to instigate a military conflict between the U.S. and whatever nation is naive enough to heed his advice.

Amnesty International is an organization which could do much good around the world, and it's therefore especially unfortunate that its manifest bias and ridiculous recommendations are turning it into a discredited and irrelevant voice in world affairs today.