The US and Human Rights: A Chinese Government Verdict

One has to have a strong sense of the ironic nature of human action to understand much that goes on in regard to racial-ethnic and other human rights matters. The China Daily has published a March 2009 report of China’s Information Office of the State Council, titled “The Human Rights Record Of The United States In 2009.” Clearly, this is part of “getting even” with the U.S. government for its recurring critiques of human rights problems and violations in China. And Communist China, of course, has massive human rights, racial and ethnic rights, political rights, and other related problems.

Nonetheless, it makes interesting reading for U.S. citizens, who are as the report suggests rather ethnocentric and blind to our own severe human rights problems. Let me quote some brief sections from a very long and doucmented (to US sources) report:

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 on March 11, 2010, posing as “the world judge of human rights” again. As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory.

First they note violent crime in the United States:

Widespread violent crimes in the United States posed threats to the lives, properties and personal security of its people. In 2008, US residents experienced 4.9 million violent crimes, 16.3 million property crimes and 137,000 personal thefts, and the violent crime rate was 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons aged 12 or over, according to a report published by the US Department of Justice in September 2009. . . .

Soon it moves to issues of “Civil and Political Rights”:

In the United States, civil and political rights of citizens are severely restricted and violated by the government. The country’s police frequently impose violence on the people. Chicago Defender reported on July 8, 2009 that a total of 315 police officers in New York were subject to internal supervision due to unrestrained use of violence during law enforcement. The figure was only 210 in 2007. Over the past two years, the number of New York police officers under review for garnering too many complaints was up 50 percent …

Most of its points throughout the report are documented with links to U.S. sources. Next, the report then zeroes in on our distinctive prison industrial-complex:

According to a report released by the US Justice Department on Dec. 8, 2009, more than 7.3 million people were under the authority of the US corrections system at the end of 2008. … The basic rights of prisoners in the United States are not well-protected. Raping cases of inmates by prison staff members are widely reported…

After discussing freedom of press issues, it then discusses “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”:

Poverty, unemployment and the homeless are serious problems in the United States, where workers’ economic, social and cultural rights cannot be guaranteed. Unemployment rate in the US in 2009 was the highest in 26 years. … The poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, the highest since 1998. … The population in hunger was the highest in 14 years. …

After discussing many other economic problems it has a long section on racial discrimination:

Racial discrimination is still a chronic problem of the United States. Black people and other minorities are the most impoverished groups in the United States. According to a report issued by the US Bureau of Census, the real median income for American households in 2008 was 50,303 US dollars. That of the non-Hispanic white households was 55,530 US dollars, Hispanic households 37,913 US dollars, black households only 34,218 US dollars. … According to the US Bureau of Census, the poverty proportion of the non-Hispanic white was 8.6 percent in 2008, those of African-Americans and Hispanic were 24.7 percent and 23.2 percent respectively, almost three times of that of the white….
Employment and occupational discrimination against minority groups is very serious. Minority groups bear the brunt of the US unemployment. According to news reports, the US unemployment rate in October 2009 was 10.2 percent. The jobless rate of the US African-Americans jumped to 15.7 percent, that of the Hispanic rose to 13.1 percent and that of the white was 9.5 percent …
In 2008, a record number of workers filed federal job discrimination complaints, with allegations of race discrimination making up the greatest portion at more than one-third of the 95,000 total claims … According to a news report, by the end of May 2009, the black and Hispanic groups each accounted for roughly 27 percent of New York City’s population, but only 3 percent of the 11,529 firefighters were black, and about 6 percent were Hispanic since the city’s fire department unfairly excluded hundreds of qualified people of color from the opportunity to serve …
The US minority groups face discriminations in education. According to a report issued by the US Bureau of Census, 33 percent of the non-Hispanic white has college degrees, proportion of the black was only 20 percent and Hispanic was 13 percent…. According to another study conducted among 5,000 children in Birmingham, Ala., Houston and Los Angeles, prejudice was reported by 20 percent of blacks and 15 percent of Hispanics. The study showed that racial discrimination was an important cause to mental health problems for children of varied races. Hispanic children who reported racism were more than three times as likely as other children to have symptoms of depression, blacks were more than twice as likely….
Racial discrimination in law enforcement and judicial system is very distinct. According to the US Department of Justice, by the end of 2008, 3,161 men and 149 women per 100,000 persons in the US black population were under imprisonment …. The number of life imprisonment without parole given to African-American young people was ten times of that given to white young people in 25 states. The figure in California was 18 times. In major US cities, there are more than one million people who were stopped and questioned by police in streets, nearly 90 percent of them were minority males. Among those questioned, 50 percent were African-Americans and 30 percent were Hispanics. Only 10 percent were white people….
Ethnic hatred crimes are frequent. According to statistics released by the US Federal Investigation Bureau on November 23, 2009, a total of 7,783 hate crimes occurred in 2008 in the United States, 51.3 percent of which were originated by racial discrimination and 19.5 percent were for religious bias and 11.5 percent were for national origins…. Among those hate crimes, more than 70 percent were against black people. In 2008, anti-black offenses accounted for 26 persons per 1,000 people, and anti-white crimes accounted for 18 persons per 1,000 people…..

It then has long sections on children and women’s rights and on U.S. global militarism, and concludes with this:

The United States ignores international human rights conventions, and takes a passive attitude toward international human rights obligations. It signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 32 years ago and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 29 years ago, but has ratified neither of them yet. It has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities either. On Sept. 13, 2007, the 61st UN General Assembly voted to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been the UN’s most authoritative and comprehensive document to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The United States also refused to recognize the declaration.

The above-mentioned facts show that the United States not only has a bad domestic human rights record, but also is a major source of many human rights disasters around the world. … This fully exposes its double standards on the human rights issue, and has inevitably drawn resolute opposition and strong denouncement from world people. At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the US subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the US government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity. We hereby advise the US government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.

This reminds me of Robert Burns’s, famous poem, “To A Louse. On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church”: “O Would Some Power the Gift to Give Us, To See Ourselves as Others See Us! “