Posts tagged ‘Human Rights’
Universal human rights are determined by government restraint. In what areas of human life should the government not be involved? What areas of life must the government not regulate, not restrain, not limit, not oversee, not implement, not subsidize, not legalize or make illegal? Interestingly, the first five words of the Bill of Rights state what Congress cannot do: “Congress shall make no law… .” Even more telling– the first ten amendments, with perhaps The Sixth as the exception, all define what the government cannot do:
- First: “Shall make no law … prohibiting … abridging,
- Second: “Shall not be infringed”
- Third: “No soldier shall … without the consent …”
- Fourth: “Shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue …”
- Fifth: “No person shall be held … nor shall any person be subject …”
- Seventh: “Shall be preserved … No fact … shall be otherwise reexamined …”
- Eighth: “Shall not be required … Nor excessive … imposed, nor … punishments inflicted”
- Ninth: “shall not be construed to deny or disparage”
- Tenth: “Not delegated … nor prohibited.”
The third, fifth, eighth, and tenth amendments don’t state “rights;” they state what authority the government does not have. In effect, limits on government are universal human rights. The Constitution outlines specific areas of human life that are off-limits to government. This suggests that there are certain aspects of human life which are fundamentally free.
The Constitution did not outline rights or prohibitions defined by a government that could later redefine them. It outlined rules to be followed by a self-ruling people in addition to separating and balancing political authority among judiciary, legislative, and executive branches.
Despite the limits the Founders enumerated in the Constitution, their limits are still limited in their ability to constrain government overreach. Matters of conscience, especially as they relate to the First Amendment, dictate certain situations when citizens decide to not follow and/or disobey unjust laws. Interestingly, dissent in the form of collective actions of conscience (refusing to pay taxes, boycotting specific products, and armed resistance) among approximately one third of American colonists who fought for independence.
The Constitution was the result of a point in time that the Founding Fathers and Framers identified of a line they could not cross. They could not comply in good conscience– it would be immoral to comply– with the laws of a corrupt and tyrannical government. Christians joined them, citing New Testament directives, identifying that they also must only “obey God rather than men.”
They recognized they could not selectively disobey certain laws because the government itself could not be obeyed. They needed a new government. Rebellion and resistance were required because the ruling authorities had rebelled against God. The government had not only violated basic principles of justice but also had squandered God-given human rights, rendering itself illegitimate.
Thomas Jefferson asserted:
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long Established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, Accordingly, all experience [has] shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
“But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evidences a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
Jefferson also said, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
The Shall Nots were imperative to the Founders– they wanted to ensure that if Congress violated them the people had just cause to rebel.
If people can define, grant and protect human rights, they also can redefine, constrain and/or eliminate them. If people can create equal living, learning, and economic environments, equal levels of human intelligence, athleticism, aptitude or any other quality, then people could redefine, alter, limit, or eliminate such classifications of equality.
However, if human rights are God-given, then human rights and equality of human beings pre-exist any manmade law. Human, civil, and legal rights would not be inherently subjectively based on personal preferences, feelings, or choices– which frequently change.
Yet if the responsibility, privilege and duty to self-govern were given to people by God, then neither the government nor the people could “do whatever they want.” Human rights are not human creations, therefore they cannot be taken away by people or leaders of any government.
Constitutional provisions were then predicated on limited political authority subjected to oversight and responsible self-governance by the people. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect people from government overreach, even including a government chosen by a majority of people. Limits exist for both people and the government– to protect the self-evident truths the Founders identified.
Thomas Jefferson stated in 1799,
“Free government is founded in jealousy, not confidence. It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind those we are obliged to trust with power…. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
James Madison wrote in Federalist no. 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
The Founders knew at some point individuals, groups, and government leaders would attempt to limit or eliminate God-given inalienable rights. Even if a majority of people insisted that a particular policy be implemented, if the policy were unconstitutional it couldn’t be enacted or followed. Constitutional laws were predicated on unchanging principles to which all other laws must be subordinate.
Consider that the majority of German voters voted to bring Adolf Hitler to power. Germany’s constitution was legally changed and initially, gradual political and legal changes were implemented:
Healthcare was nationalized;
the purpose of education was completely redefined as was curriculum and teaching methodology;
the police were militarized;
speech, the press, and religion were controlled and censored; certain speech, books, movies, and aspects of higher learning were banned;
controlled medical experiments on specific segments of the population became institutionalized; and
punishment was legally exacted through fines, imprisonment or the death penalty.
Certain groups of people were legally targeted whose businesses were legally closed and whose private property was legally confiscated and given away against their will and without recompense. Those legally targeted were legally transported to a specific geographic area, prohibited from working or forced to work against their will, to later be imprisoned and eventually killed.
Nazi regulations were legally implemented and enforced. Their laws were also manmade predicated on manmade rights. German citizens and their rulers determined what right and wrong policies and who good and bad citizens were, as well as all of the subsequent implications and outcomes of these decisions.
In this way, human will, self-assertion, individual beliefs or feelings, and even simple selfishness for power or self-preservation defined human rights. Under German law, rights existed for certain citizens, not all citizens. And these rights changed.
According to the U.S. Constitution, human will, self-assertion, individual beliefs and feelings do not provide any basis for human, civil or legal rights. The Constitution specifically states rights are a gift. Rights are given and they are given by God. Rights are endowed by God, who the Constitution identifies as human beings’ Creator. The gifts of inalienable rights to life, liberty, and equality are given specifically as they relate to human nature.
The Constitution sustains the self-evident truth that rights are determined by what is given and by whom. Rights are not subjective or fluid. They are constant reminders that using them is a responsibility and privilege.
People can hold on to their gifts, hoard them, store them, hide them, give them away, trash them, lose them, or squander them. But those who safeguard and share them responsibly, exemplify the best traits of human authority that serves the greater good.
By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2015
Obama’s trip to Kenya, his first as president, is scheduled to take place four weeks after the White House was bathed in rainbow colors to mark the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that same-sex marriage is a right.
At a small pro-family demonstration at the parliament in Nairobi Monday, organized by the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, participants called on the American president not to raise the subject during his visit.
“It is important for us as Kenyans to know that the U.S. is not God,” local media quoted evangelical Bishop Mark Kariuki as saying, adding that Obama should not use the visit to “talk about the gay issue.”
Irungu Kangata, a lawmaker in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) party, was blunter: “We are telling Mr. Obama when he comes to Kenya this month and he tries to bring the abortion agenda, the gay agenda, we shall tell him to shut up and go home.”
According to The Standard of Nairobi, Kangata said Kenyans would demonstrate against Obama over the issue during his visit. Kenya’s The Daily Nation quoted several other lawmakers’ views on the matter. “Anybody who tries to come and preach to this country that they should allow homosexuality, I think he’s totally lost,” said TNA lawmaker Jamleck Kamau. “And I would also like to add, our son from the U.S., Barack Obama, when he comes here, to simply avoid that topic completely,” added Kamau, “because Kenyans will not be happy with him if he comes to bring the issue of homosexuality in this country.”
“Liberal thoughts are being entertained in some countries under the guise of human rights,” the speaker of the National Assembly, Justin Muturi, told an Anglican Church congregation. “We must be vigilant and guard against it. We must lead an upright society and not allow obnoxious behavior as we have a responsibility to protect our children.”
Rose Mitaru, one of 47 female lawmakers representing counties across the country, said that allowing same-sex marriage in Kenya would open “floodgates of evil synonymous with the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.”
TNA lawmaker Cecily Mbarire urged the government to reject any foreign aid tied to efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.
On Sunday, Deputy President William Ruto delivered a church sermon in Nairobi in which he said homosexuality was “against the plan of God.” “God did not create man and woman so that men would marry men and women marry women,” The Daily Nation quoted him as saying. “Those who want to engage in those businesses, they can do it in their countries, and they can do it wherever it is they want. In Kenya, we will stand firm.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest indicated Monday that Obama would not avoid the topic during his visit. “We have been clear that when the president travels around the world, he does not hesitate to raise concerns about human rights,” he told a press briefing, in response to a question on the Kenyan criticism.
“I’m confident the president will not hesitate to make clear that the protection of basic universal human rights in Kenya is also a priority and consistent with the values that we hold dear here in the United States of America,” Earnest said.
‘Everybody has to be treated equally’
Obama is scheduled to visit Kenya later this month to open the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, an Obama initiative aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, particularly in Muslim societies. He will then visit Ethiopia for bilateral and African Union meetings. It will be his fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa during his presidency.
Obama’s last visit to the continent coincided with the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, and the LGBT question came up during a joint press appearance with Senegalese President Macky Sall. Asked about the issue of homosexuality in Africa, Obama said he believed that “every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions.” “But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally,” he said. “I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view.”
In his response, Sall said Senegal was not ready to change to decriminalize homosexuality, and that countries should respect each other’s choices. He also said Senegal “does not discriminate in terms of inalienable rights of the human being.”
According to data compiled by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), same-sex sexual acts are illegal in 76 countries around the world, 36 of them in Africa.
In May 2014, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, which reports to the African Union, passed a resolution calling on African countries to “end all acts of violence and abuse … including those targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identities, ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of perpetrators, and establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.”
15 Jun 2015
The nation’s openly gay ambassadors and a State Department envoy say President Obama’s proposed trade agreements “will export our values of equality and tolerance,” and “promote greater justice beyond our borders.” In an op-ed at The Advocate.com, which also ran at White House.gov, the eight openly gay U.S. representatives abroad say “trade policy” is one of the “most promising tools” to advance the meme that the LGBT agenda is the agenda that expresses America’s “values.”
The op-ed’s authors state that they are already promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) abroad. “In speaking about these agreements, we often use the word ‘values,’” they write. “We promote transparency, public participation, accountability and the rule of law, and we advocate for our host countries to join us in setting the global standard.”
After all, an export is more than just an item we are shipping overseas. It is also a product of the values of the people who created it, which it represents. And while the United States has made important progress in promoting and protecting the human rights of all of its residents, we are constantly reminded of the challenges LGBTI persons continue to face in countries around the world.
We are proud to be part of an Administration that remains deeply committed to the advancement of human rights for all, including LGBTI persons. President Obama recently said that “all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.” The Administration has backed up those words with actions, including through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons worldwide. This commitment is also clear in trade priorities like TPP, which would represent a significant expansion of enforceable labor rights, and would support the elimination of discrimination with respect to employment.
The op-ed is signed by the following openly gay ambassadors:
Daniel B. Baer, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to Australia
Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons
James W. Brewster, U.S. Ambassador to Dominican Republic
James Costos, U.S. Ambassador to Spain
Rufus Gifford, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark
Robert Holleyman, Deputy United States Trade Representative
Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam
As “Breitbart News reported last week, President Obama also said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) bill will advance his climate change agenda – and plans some “leverage” of his own. During an interview with Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace, Obama said, “If we want to solve something like climate change, which is one of my highest priorities, then I’ve got to be able to get into places like Malaysia, and say to them, this is in your interest.”
“What leverage do I have to get them to stop deforestation?” he asked. “Well part of the leverage is, if I’m in a trade relationship with them, that allows me to raise standards, now they have to start thinking about how quick they’re chopping down their forests and what kinds of standards they need to apply to environmental conservation.”
UN Human Rights Council “expert” Richard Falk has published a statement saying Bostonians got what they deserved in last week’s terror attack. He quotes W.H. Auden to make his point: “to whom evil is done/do evil in return.”
Richard Falk is the UN’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” He has held the post since 2008, despite exposure as a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
In his latest rant, published online on April 21, 2013 by foreignpolicyjournal.com Falk repeats the libel that prior to 9/11 President George W. Bush was seeking a “pretext” for war, and that anything Israel is the opposite of “justice and peace.”
And then he attacks Bostonians head-on. The police action in Boston was a “hysterical dragnet.” Boston’s dead were “canaries” that “have to die” because of America’s “fantasy of global domination.”
Falk explains the attacks as justifiable “resistance.” In his words: “The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world.”
He minimizes the crime and predicts worse if America doesn’t change its ways to better accommodate the demands of “the Islamic world.” As he puts it: “In some respects, the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks, and these may yet happen…”.
For years, Falk has been espousing the worst forms of antisemitism from his UN perch, and for his efforts has been rewarded with repeated opportunities by the Council to lecture others on his world view.
That world view is shared by the 56 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), who only a week ago at UN Headquarters refused to define terrorism unless an exception clause was created for “legitimate struggle.”
The OIC controls the balance of power at the UN’s top human rights body, by holding majorities in both the African and Asian regional groups. Africa and Asia, in turn, control 26 of the 47 seats on the Council. With the backing of the OIC, therefore, Falk has been encouraged and protected.
The Obama administration has long championed the UN Human Rights Council, which it decided to join as one of its first foreign policy moves in 2009. Thanks to the Obama administration, U.S. began a second three-year term on the Council this past January. At the opening of the Council’s most recent session in March, Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer traveled to Geneva to address what she called “this esteemed body.”
There is nothing about a “human rights” body that countenances the likes of Richard Falk that is “esteemed,” and the United States should resign–effective immediately.