Human Rights Groups: Defending Human Rights

A reading writes in to note that in today's New York Times alone you can find researches with Human Rights Watch noted as important sources for articles on election fraud in Nigeria, and on Taliban War crimes in Afghanistan. Yesterday, we had HRW getting media play in an article on the violent suppression of a peaceful protest in Russia. And, of course, back on April 1 HRW was cited in a story about Guantanamo Bay.

In short, Human Rights Watch is, for better or for worse, fighting the good fight for human rights consistently and around the world. Nevertheless, the right has consistently tried to foster the impression that the human rights community's criticisms of US policies in Guantanamo and regarded detentions more generally are fostered by hostility to the United States. Such groups also stand accused of "ignoring" human rights violations in whatever country happens to be the right-wing's designated Enemy of the Month. In fact, however, both these strains of argumentation would only appear credible to people who didn't have any actual concern for human rights and therefore remained studiously ignorant of what actually goes on in the world and who does what to bring attention to it. People like, well, conservative hectorers whose interest in the subject extends precisely as far as it's useful to generate support for starting wars.