The Corner

You’ve Got to Be Kidding . . .

We, the United States, have been having human-rights talks with China. Our side is apparently led by Michael Posner, an assistant secretary of state. I will quote from an Associated Press report:

Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.

He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its [their?] own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

I hope I have read that incorrectly, or am interpreting it incorrectly. Did we, the United States, talking to a government that maintains a gulag, that denies people their basic rights, that in all probability harvests organs, apologize for the new immigration law in Arizona? Really, really?

And that is to leave to one side, for the moment, the question of whether issues of crime, poverty, and so on truly belong in human-rights talks. You remember the old line, taught to us by our dear Marxist professors: “Here in the West, we have political rights: of expression, worship, assembly, etc. But you can’t eat those! In the East Bloc, they have economic and social rights: to food, shelter, health care, and the like.” Of course, free countries do better by material measures, too — better than those countries that have “economic and social rights.” Infinitely better.

A month ago, President Obama told the leader of Kazakhstan that we were still — you know: working on our democracy. An Obama national-security aide, Mike McFaul, said, “[Obama has] taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States.” (For a write-up, go here.) “Historic steps”? I suppose he meant national health care, socialized medicine. I suppose, by “democracy,” he meant social democracy. Hard to tell. I don’t think he meant that the Justice Department was going to make the New Black Panthers stop intimidating voters.

Do you ever get the idea that our government is a bunch of left-wing undergraduates come to power?

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