The Corner

Obama and Human Rights: A Confusion

When I was growing up, liberals had a line (and by “liberals,” I mean McGovernites, basically — people who today are called “progressives”): Sure, the West had “political rights,” such as the right to speech, to worship, and to assembly. But the East — i.e., the Communist states — had “economic rights,” such as the right to food, to shelter, and to health care.

West Germany had mere “political rights.” You could say what you wanted, but you had to sleep under bridges. In Erich Honecker’s beautiful East Germany, you might not be able to say what you wanted, but you were fed, warm, and comfy.

I discussed this with Jeane Kirkpatrick once. She said, Yes, the Communists deprived people of all political rights. But they left them in extreme material want as well.

And you remember Orwell: The Communists say you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Well, they’ve broken a lot of eggs (by murdering millions, for example). But where’s the omelet?

Which brings me, of course, to Raúl Castro and Barack Obama. Castro said the usual stuff about how food, shelter, and health care are human rights. And here comes our guy, Obama:

“President Castro, I think, has pointed out that, in his view, making sure everybody’s getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age — that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with that. … You know, I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we’re falling short, because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well.”

Great, just great. You know what this reminds me of? The “human-rights dialogue” that Obama’s State Department held with the Chinese regime in 2010.

After the dialogue, a reporter asked our representative, Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner, “Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?”

Our guy said, “We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”

Great, just great. Thanks, guys. And thanks, American people, for electing these people, twice. You done yet? Or on to Hillary? (Trump complicates things, it’s true.)

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