May 28, 2002

BLOGGER N.Z. BEAR has a lengthy post on the latest Amnesty International report on human rights. Here’s a key observation:

But reading through their report, I’m struck not so much by the specific points they raise — some of which I agree with, some of which I do not — [as] by the tone of the document, particularly where it comes to criticism of the United States. . . .

Amnesty, I think, does themselves a severe disservice simply in the way they present their criticisms. I suspect people often react negatively to their complaints on items such as civilian casualties during our bombing of Afghanistan not because they think bombing civilians is a good thing, but because Amnesty takes such a combative and accusatory approach, with seemingly no recognition at all of the contributions the U.S. (or other Western democracies that they place in their sights) have made to the cause of human rights worldwide.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not the fact that they criticize U.S. policy that bothers me; it’s the fact that they’re just, well, such jerks about it.

Yeah, that’s about right. I’ve been a big Amnesty supporter over the years, but they’ve seemed extra-eager to find opportunities to criticize the United States, and much more muted about less savory countries. Sadly, I think that’s an indication that their direct-mail base is more interested in hearing criticism of the United States, and the West in general, than in human rights per se.