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.


Iowahawk has a funny caricature of the Obama campaign's Julia ad here.

Nothing could make more pellucid the sort of future liberals envision than does this ad. Julia seems to have no real family support, no friends, no husband, no church. She's a ward of the state, almost completely dependent upon others to see her through life's challenges. The government is her ersatz family. It's a dependency the left fervently desires to achieve universally.

Russ Douthat of the New York Times puts it like this:
All propaganda invites snark and parody, and the story of Julia is ripe for it. She’s an everywoman only by the standards of the liberal upper middle class: She works as a Web designer, has her first child in her early 30s (the average first-time American mother is in her mid-20s), and spends her golden years as a “volunteer at a community garden.” (It will not surprise you to learn that the cartoon Julia looks Caucasian.)

What’s more, she seems to have no meaningful relationships apart from her bond with the Obama White House: no friends or siblings or extended family, no husband (“Julia decides to have a child,” is all the slide show says), a son who disappears once school starts and parents who only matter because Obamacare grants her the privilege of staying on their health care plan until she’s 26. This lends the whole production a curiously patriarchal quality, with Obama as a beneficent Daddy Warbucks and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan co-starring as the wicked uncles threatening to steal Julia’s inheritance.

But if the slide show is easy to mock (and conservatives quickly obliged, tweeting Julia jokes across the Internet), there’s also a fascinating ideological purity to its attitudes and arguments. Indeed, both in its policy vision and its philosophical premises, the slide show represents a monument to certain trends in contemporary liberalism.

On the one hand, its public policy agenda is essentially a defense of existing arrangements no matter their effectiveness or sustainability, apparently premised on the assumption that American women can’t make cost-benefit calculations or indeed do basic math. In addition to ignoring the taxes that will be required of its businesswoman heroine across her working life, “The Life of Julia” hails a program (Head Start) that may not work at all, touts education spending that hasn’t done much for high school test scores or cut college costs, and never mentions that on the Obama administration’s own budget trajectory, neither Medicare nor Social Security will be able to make good on its promises once today’s 20-something Julias retire.

At the same time, the slide show’s vision of the individual’s relationship to the state seems designed to vindicate every conservative critique of the Obama-era Democratic Party. The liberalism of “the Life of Julia” doesn’t envision government spending the way an older liberalism did — as a backstop for otherwise self-sufficient working families, providing insurance against job loss, decrepitude and catastrophic illness.

It offers a more sweeping vision of government’s place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision — personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual — can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington.
Someone should do a clip that urges us to stay in school, get good grades, don't have children until you're married, stay married once you have them, shun drugs, alcohol and pornography, join a church, show up for work every day on time, and strive to be the best employee your employer has. If everyone followed these eight simple rules we'd have a lot fewer people in poverty and we'd hardly need government social welfare programs at all.