Monday, June 20, 2005

No American 'Gulag' :: WaPo

Pavel Litvinov, who was a dissident active in human rights causes in the Soviet Union, now lives in the United States. He writes:

by using hyperbole and muddling the difference between repressive regimes and the imperfections of democracy, Amnesty's spokesmen put its authority at risk. U.S. human rights violations seem almost trifling in comparison with those committed by Cuba, South Korea, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

The most effective way to criticize U.S. behavior is to frankly acknowledge that this country should be held to a higher standard based on its own Constitution, laws and traditions. We cannot fulfill our responsibilities as the world's only superpower without being perceived as a moral authority. Despite the risks posed by terrorism, the United States cannot indefinitely detain people considered dangerous without appropriate safeguards for their conditions of detention and periodic review of their status.

Words are important. When Amnesty spokesmen use the word "gulag" to describe U.S. human rights violations, they allow the Bush administration to dismiss justified criticism and undermine Amnesty's credibility.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

...On the other hand, the use of the word "gulag" was intended to communicate to the world that truly "un-American" things are happening at Gitmo. In particular:

1) indefinite detention without due process or trial; and

2) a pattern of torture (albeit generally non-fatal) that does not jibe with a U.S. policy that has been consistently held through all post-Vietnam-war administrations (both Democrat and Republican).

True, I think it was hyperbole; on the other hand, it got the attention of the press and the nation as a whole.

In the end, regardless of what the words say, what the Bush administration has done at Guantanamo is not something Americans should tolerate! This is an embarassment and should be brought to an immediate conclusion. Either the administration trusts and follows the constitution and laws and ideals of the United States of America, or it doesn't. Which is it, then?

10:53 PM  

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