Monday, May 7, 2012

U.N. Priorities

The United Nations is taking up the cause of Native Americans who believe they're being discriminated against:
James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Anaya said that in nearly two weeks of visiting Indian reservations, indigenous communities in Alaska and Hawaii, and Native Americans now living in cities, he encountered people who suffered a history of dispossession of their lands and resources, the breakdown of their societies and "numerous instances of outright brutality, all grounded on racial discrimination".

"It's a racial discrimination that they feel is both systemic and also specific instances of ongoing discrimination that is felt at the individual level," he said. Anaya said racism extended from the broad relationship between federal or state governments and tribes down to local issues such as education.

"For example, with the treatment of children in schools both by their peers and by teachers as well as the educational system itself; the way native Americans and indigenous peoples are reflected in the school curriculum and teaching," he said.

"And discrimination in the sense of the invisibility of Native Americans in the country overall that often is reflected in the popular media. The idea that is often projected through the mainstream media and among public figures that indigenous peoples are either gone or as a group are insignificant or that they're out to get benefits in terms of handouts, or their communities and cultures are reduced to casinos, which are just flatly wrong."
I do not wish to diminish the plight of Native Americans who often feel like second class citizens. Many of them suffer from desperate poverty and its concomitant dysfunctions, but surely there are far worse human rights problems around the globe to which the U.N. should be directing its attention and resources.

Christians in Muslim lands are being violently murdered, their property seized, their churches burned. Jews are portrayed in Muslim schoolbooks as monsters and pigs. The U.N. could do a real service by showing a little interest in these human rights atrocities.

North Korea and Cuba are statewide prison camps, shackling, starving, torturing, and killing hundreds of thousands of people whose only crime was to question their political leadership. The U.N. could do a real service by showing a little interest in these human rights atrocities.

Human rights dissidents in China live in fear of their lives. Jews in Europe are being threatened in ways reminiscent of the 1930s. White farmers in Zimbabwe continue to have their property expropriated by the government and given to political cronies of President Robert Mugabe. The U.N. could do a real service by showing a little interest in these human rights atrocities instead of fretting about how Native Americans are treated in American school books.