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Number One in America

We’ve finally arrived, and we don’t need Trump to tell us so! We’re finally the great exception in the history of nations and in the forward march of civilizations: We’ve got it all! We can even go on using the term “America” to describe the one country out of many in South America, Central America and North America and we don’t even need permission to do it any longer. We can shop until we drop as George W. Bush suggested after the September 2001 attacks.

It’s pretty strange that the human rights organization Amnesty International did it for us… It cemented that long suspected notion, especially on the far right, that we’re the greatest, except not exactly the way that Mohammad Ali thought of his justly coined phrase to describe his incredible athletic and intellectual abilities.

Here’s Amnesty’s February 2018 report on the 10 hotspots of human rights violations where “Leaders have pushed hate, fought against rights, ignored crimes against humanity and blithely let inequality and suffering spin out of control” (“10 global hotspots for major human rights violations in 2017”, CNBC, February 23, 2018). What CNBC won’t tell readers in its report on global wrongdoing is the fact that the US military-industrial-financial complex is laughing all the way to the bank with trillions of dollars in profits.

Here’s Amnesty’s 2017 findings in snapshot fashion:

The US tops the list, yes the US, with “hate-filled rhetoric” and a travel ban that is “transparently hateful.” Readers won’t even need the probable decision on the Trump administration’s travel ban from the right-wing Supreme Court since they already know what’s going on. It’s a sort of a Biblical writing on the wall that’s fairly easy to decipher.

Next on the list of who’s who of human rights abuses is Venezuela. “Widespread food shortages, the collapse of its traditional currency and hyperinflation” has brought that nation to the “breaking point.” One could argue forever about the origins of the disaster in Venezuela, including US opposition to the government of Nicolas Maduro, but much of the blame lies with the government itself and its inability to build a diversified economy.

Next is Yemen where mass murder by a “Saudi-led coalition” (with US armaments and other military advice) has “shattered” the nation and created “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time.” But with gasoline prices skyrocketing in the US, who really cares about human suffering a world away?

Turkey was singled out for its “crackdown on journalists, political activists, and human rights defenders.” Nothing was said of Turkey’s role in the Syrian civil and proxy war.

Syria was highlighted for its “catastrophic war.”  Syria is an example of the free-for-all where war in the 21st century has become a no-holds-barred assault with more warring “players” than can be listed in this hellish quagmire of the breakdown of human rights and the laws of war. The larger world’s response to the refugee crisis in and outside of Syria fueled by the war is shocking in its unmasking of global inhumanity.  World War II comes to mind.

Russia, the boogeyman of US politics (The Russians did it… blah, blah, blah…), has “clamp (ed) down on free speech.” and “arrested hundreds of peaceful protesters” as the March election there approached. “Arbitrary detention, beatings and intimidation” were noted in the lead-up to the election. We now know, and anyone could have predicted, that Putin won that election without breaking a sweat.

Saudi Arabia, a creation of the West, continued to treat women with “systematic discrimination.”  That nation was criticized for “unfairly detaining human rights defenders and execution of Shi’a activists.” The cry of “Off with their heads!” is not something that the Trump administration wishes to respond to. Again, Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen has reached new heights in ignoring the thousands of years it took to establish the rules of war.

Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”  Amnesty cited Myanmar’s “extensive violations of international humanitarian law” in its treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

Amnesty condemned both the EU and Australia for their “outright callous” response to the “global refugee crisis.” In regard to the EU, some of its member nations haven’t learned a damn thing from the Holocaust.

China “rounds” out the list of awful actors, charged by Amnesty with “serious threats to human rights” and codifying some of those threats into law. China’s political leadership won’t let very much happen in terms of protest against its iron-fist control over the people, the economy and the political system of that nation.

Readers may find that Amnesty International’s list lacks the names and charges against many wrongdoers across the globe and those criticisms are valid. But the top 10 are the top 10 and many will look at the US role in a decaying global human rights’ landscape at the top of that list as something to mourn and then respond to! It’s not exactly news to many who are not asleep at the wheel.

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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