Look around the world and you would expect the United Nations to be busy.
There are wars, insurgencies and uprisings everywhere. Millions of refugees are desperately fleeing conflict. Radical Islamist jihadists commit murder and mayhem around the globe. Rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea threaten peace and stability. Tyranny reasserts itself in Russia and China.
However, the global organization doesn’t spend all its time on such mundane matters. There are bigger crises to which it must attend. Such as racism in America.
The United Nations runs the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights—which, of course, is separate from the Human Rights Council. Basically, the OHCHR, as the “Office” is known, answers to the Secretary-General while the HRC is an intergovernmental body controlled by its members (essentially a lunatic asylum run by its inmates, with predictable results).
The OHCHR modestly tells us that it “represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity.” The Office fields the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or CERD.
On the case are the Committee’s “18 independent experts who are persons of high moral standing and acknowledged impartiality.” Of course, we expect no less from the UN, the last great hope of mankind, etc., etc.
Although, CERD is quick to add, not too high standing or impartial. “Considerations must also be given to equitable geographical distribution and to the representation of the different forms of civilization as well as of the principal legal systems.” Well, naturally. One wouldn’t want to rely only upon people of “high moral standing and acknowledged impartiality.”
Among the countries represented: Algeria, China, Mauritania, Pakistan, Russia, Togo and Turkey. All have, shall we say, “issues” involving human rights and liberty, ethnic animus, military aggression, mob violence, virulent nationalism, religious persecution and political dictatorship.
The august Committee was greatly agitated about the state of American society following Charlottesville, calling on the U.S. government, “including the high-level politicians and public officials,” to get busy and “unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes.”
CERD also wanted officials and politicians to “actively contribute to the promotion of understanding, tolerance, and diversity between ethnic groups.” Alas, America’s many governments have spent years sanctimoniously preaching goodness and light, turning off as many people as they convinced. As for acknowledging minorities’ “contribution to the history and diversity” of the U.S., one need only take a walk in most any city.
The Committee also urged prosecution of criminals for violating the rights of others while its.
Chairperson Anastasia Crickley, expressed the group’s alarm over “the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes.” What concerned most Americans, in contrast, was not the speech, no matter how vile, but the violence, including the killing of Heather Heyer. Which is why the authorities have been arresting those responsible.
In its typical highhanded way, the Committee urged the U.S. government “to take concrete measures to address the root causes of the proliferation of such racist manifestations.” If the UN has discovered the key to understanding and ending racism, it should share the secret with the rest of us. In fact, while racism tragically still exists, it is far less widespread and virulent today.
Finally, CERD called on “the United States of America to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are not exercised with the aim of destroying or denying the rights and freedoms of others.” The esteemed Committee just doesn’t understand that the one issue setting America apart from other nations is the commitment to robust freedom of speech.
We believe that a truly free society must allow the expression of even awful ideas. It is not government’s place to judge whether speech is a bit too offensive. People should be punished for crimes, not speech. Even vile speech.
Unfortunately, under the guise of protecting people’s feelings, many supposedly liberal societies now sanction people for unpopular, not dangerous, beliefs. Including expressing traditional Judeo-Christian moral values.
It’s good to know that the UN is willing to drop everything to offer its assistance. But, really, Americans know they have a problem and have been addressing it for many years, starting with fighting a great war to eliminate slavery.
We are carrying on the battle today by responding sharply to the racism evident in Charlottesville and elsewhere. And we will finish the job together—without the UN’s aid.
Kenneth Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, is a senior fellow and Policy Board member of the American Civil Rights Union.