Politics & Policy

The New Cultural Imperialism

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The U.N. wants to force the developing world to accept the sexual revolution.

The United Nations loves multiculturalism. Unless, of course, your culture doesn’t align with its progressive ideology on abortion and homosexuality. In that case, the U.N.’s muscle — i.e., the United States, buttressed by its liberal European allies — will exert imperial power to suppress and supplant your country’s traditional cultural values.

The Obama administration has made abortion and LGBT “rights” cornerstones of America’s foreign policy, to the delight of the U.N.’s development agencies and the chagrin of the developing world. Despite a lack of domestic consensus on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and “gender identity,” the sexual revolution is now America’s biggest export.

Now, developing nations are striking back, using the progressive Left’s own language of cultural diversity and anti-colonialism against it.

In 2011, President Obama issued an executive memorandum instructing U.S. diplomats and officials at foreign-assistance agencies to give high priority to LGBT issues. In response, the U.S. embassy in Pakistan hoisted the rainbow flag by holding a “pride celebration” for LGBT groups. Nothing says “cultural sensitivity” like straining already-tense relations and inciting anti-American protests in a Muslim-majority country. The nation’s leading political party quickly labeled the event “social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan.”

This is part of a pattern of subverting national-security interests for the sake of what Pope Francis calls “ideological colonization” against the family. Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, claims that the United States is refusing to help his country’s government combat the terrorists of Boko Haram until Nigeria changes its laws on homosexuality and abortion. The bishop condemned “cultural imperialism that threatens to erode our [African] cultural values.”

Thanks to President Obama’s directive, the State Department now evaluates aid recipients’ views on homosexuality when determining their suitability for funding, and has set aside $3 million of our tax dollars to fund LGBT advocacy groups.

And that’s pocket change compared with the $644 million that the United States will give international abortion providers in fiscal year 2015, earmarked for population-control programs in the developing world. Behind closed doors at the U.N., American diplomats take their African counterparts aside and threaten to withhold aid money unless they vote for U.N. resolutions that promote abortion.

In short, under the auspices of the United Nations, liberal Western elites are attempting to insert the principles of the sexual revolution into the larger human-rights framework, treating sexual predilections as human rights. Though no U.N. treaty mentions “sexual orientation” or “gender identity,” Western European nations directed more than 375 recommendations on the topic toward developing countries during their last Universal Periodic Review, which evaluates member states’ compliance with their human-rights treaty obligations.

When the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity last September, Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and others accused the council of “cultural imperialism” and attempting to subvert their peoples’ traditional values.

In February, Archbishop Edmundo Valenzeula of Asunción, Paraguay, warned visiting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the United Nations must stop pressuring “the free and sovereign Paraguayan state” to accept abortion and same-sex marriage, adding that “the U.N. needs to respect the cultural tradition of peoples, their core values and their beliefs.”

A week ago, at the end of the 48th session of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, the tiny Oceanic nation of Nauru accused the U.N. Population Fund of harassing it to adopt controversial abortion and sexuality provisions, asking: “Does the UNFPA think they can do this because Nauru is the smallest member state?”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was based on universal principles, the threads of which can be traced in nearly every culture and civilization. The modern sexual-liberation movement, however, has no such basis in religious traditions or cultural practices. Until very recently, no one envisioned a right to have an abortion or to change one’s gender. No international consensus or law lends credibility to these purported “rights.”

Yet such “rights” are precisely what President Obama and a cadre of U.N. elites hope to create in the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals, which are currently being negotiated at U.N. headquarters in New York City and are scheduled to take effect this year.

Attempting to impose this agenda will require a new crusade of cultural hegemony, where rich, dominant progressives wage cultural war against indigenous societies in the developing world. If President Obama truly believes that Westerners should “get off our high horse” and be honest about our own historic failings, he should avoid making cultural imperialism the basis of U.S. policy.

— Josh Craddock serves as a liaison for Personhood USA at the United Nations, where he is participating in negotiations for developing the U.N.’s post-2015 agenda.


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