Ever ready to meddle where it’s least needed, the United Nations Human Rights Council recently dispatched its special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, to inspect the United States.
Actually, it appears that Anaya himself is from the United States, or at least his biography says he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1983 and works as a professor of law at the University of Arizona. But for purposes of UN business, the UN tells us, Anaya was “invited” to come to America on his UN Mission — apparently the first time the UN has dispatched to the U.S. a special rapporteur of this kind — by the Obama administration, along with “indigenous Nations and organizations.”
Anaya’s itinerary included twelve days visiting Washington, D.C., Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota and Oklahoma; talking with federal and state authorities, tribal leaders, NGOs and so forth. And on Friday he held a press conference in Washington charging “racism” and “discrimination” and inspiring the Guardian headline, “US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says the United Nations.” Or, as the BBC further expounds, “UN official calls for US return of native land” — including the Black Hills of South Dakota, site of Mount Rushmore.
Are there real troubles on tribal reservations in the U.S.? Yes. But there’s a very good argument that the problem is not lack of land, but a smothering and dispiriting mix of federal subsidies and regulatory intervention, including selective favors that enrich a few but do worse than nothing for the rest.
Rather than address that, the Obama administration has focused on providing a $1 billion settlement, announced last month, for claims dating back more than 100 years, or, as The Independent Sentinel described it, “Obama Buying Native American Votes.”
Whatever one’s view of that settlement, apparently it was not enough to satisfy the administration — which also called in reinforcements from the UN, in the form of inviting Anaya to “visit” his own native haunts, and provide a UN condemnation and prescription for the doings of America.
Citing “exemplary cooperation” from the Obama administration in his UN venture, Anaya, according to the Guardian, “declined to speculate on why no members of Congress would meet with him.”
Anaya will now present his “findings” to the next session of the UN Human Rights Council. If the U.S. administration is as eager as it appears to be to cooperate with this latest UN mission to remake America, here’s a suggestion. By all means, transfer some land back to the tribes who once lived there — but please, for the sake not only of native Americans, but all Americans — indeed, all mankind — let’s start with the ample patch of midtown Manhattan that currently houses the headquarters of the United Nations.