The United States Senate will likely soon consider ratification the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which fell six votes short of the 67 needed last December. The CPRD’s stated purpose is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” While seemingly well-intentioned, the treaty would enable an enormous increase in the potential power of UN bureaucrats over the American people and undermine national sovereignty. CRPD proponents argue that it merely reiterates existing U.S. disability law. President Obama said, “Existing U.S. law [is] consistent with and sufficient to implement the requirements of the Convention.” While the CRPD was originally modeled to some extent on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), its provisions far surpass the ADA’s. For example, the convention’s Article 27, which prohibits “discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment,” is a giant leap from the ADA’s employment standards stating, “no covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” [Emphases added] In removing the principles of “covered entity,” whereby some organizations are exempt, and of a “qualified” individual, the convention removes all common-sense safeguards against unintended consequences and overreach. Moreover, the article commits signatory states to secure this by legislation — meaning that the ADA would need to be amended. The CRPD also requires the United States to set up a propaganda agency. Yes, you read that right. Article 8 states that signatories must take “immediate and effective measures…to raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.” It becomes the federal government’s duty to “combat stereotypes… in all areas of life” by “initiating and maintaining effective public awareness campaigns.” Worst of all will be the loss of U.S. sovereignty. Under CRPD Article 34, U.S. policy would be subject to the “Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” a U.N.-appointed panel consisting of 12 “experts.” The history of other UN bodies like the Human Rights Council — which includes countries with a long history of human rights abuses and hostility toward the United States — is not encouraging. And the Convention’s vague language — such as defining disabilities as “an evolving concept” — suggests that the Committee will have ample opportunity to redefine terms to America’s disadvantage. Advocates of CRPD ratification argue that the powers afforded to the UN would likely never be used and are unenforceable. Instead, U.S. ratification would serve as an exhortation of U.S. ideals that would encourage other countries to act in accordance with our values. Secretary of State John Kerry labels the Americans with Disabilities Act the “gold standard” for protecting the rights of the disabled, emphasizing the CRPD’s ability to “take that gold standard and extend it to countries that have never heard of disability rights.” This argument contradicts itself. If the U.S. were to ratify CRPD as a signal for others to do the same, its signal would be nullified if it were not to comply with its provisions. Moreover, this argument ignores the fact that, almost uniquely in the world, U.S. citizens can sue their government to ensure that it is complying with all the terms of a treaty it has ratified. The rest of the world can treat a UN convention as merely hortatory. The U.S. cannot. And, as Senator David Vitter (R.-La.) argued when considering an article of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (about which a similar argument was made and which never ratified), “If it is not possible for an individual state to violate the provision, why is it in the treaty?” In other words, if the full powers given to the UN are not intended to be used, why grant the powers in the first place? The defense that CRPD is unlikely to be enforceable is no defense at all. Finally, there is strong evidence that the ADA has harmed Americans with disabilities by making it more expensive for employers to hire them. As the Cato Institute found in 2000 , a 10 percent reduction in employment among disabled people has occurred since the passage of the Act. If the ADA has harmed Americans, how much worse would the much more expansive CPRD be for them? Ratification of CPRD would harm the American economy, national sovereignty, and the prospects of people with disabilities. The only people it would benefit would be national and international bureaucrats. The Senate should reject it.
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Disabling American Sovereignty
An all too familiar scene was enacted on the campus of Swarthmore College during a meeting on May 4th to discuss demands by student activists for the college to divest itself of its investments in companies that dealt in fossil fuels. As a speaker was beginning a presentation to show how many millions of dollars such a disinvestment would cost the college, student activists invaded the meeting, seized the microphone, and shouted down a student who rose in the audience to object. Although there were professors and administrators in the room — including the college president — apparently nobody had the guts to put a stop to these storm trooper tactics. Nor is it likely that there will be any punishment of those who put their own desires above the rights of others. On the contrary, these students went on to demand mandatory campus “teach-ins,” and the administration caved on that demand. Among their other demands are that courses on ethnic studies, and on gender and sexuality, be made a requirement for graduation. Just what is it that academics have to fear if they stand up for common decency, instead of letting campus barbarians run amok? At a prestigious college like Swarthmore, every student who trampled on other people’s rights could be expelled and there would be plenty of replacement students available to take their places. Although colleges and universities across the country have been giving in to storm trooper tactics ever since the nationwide campus disruptions of the 1960s, not all have. Back in the 1960s, the University of Chicago was a rare exception. As Professor George J. Stigler, a Nobel Prize winning economist, put it in his memoirs, “our faculty united behind the expulsion of a large number of young barbarians.” The sky did not fall. There was no bloodbath. The University of Chicago was in fact spared some of the worst nonsense that more compliant institutions were permanently saddled with in the years that followed, as a result of their failure of nerve in the 1960s. When the nationwide campus disruptions and violence of the 1960s gave way to quieter times in the 1970s, many academics congratulated themselves on having restored peace. But it was the peace of surrender. Creating whole departments of ethnic, gender, and other “studies” were among the price of academic peace. All too often, these “studies” are about propaganda rather than serious education. Academic campuses have become among the least free places in America. “Speech codes,” vaguely worded but zealously applied to those who dare to say anything that is not politically correct, have become the norm. Few professors would dare to publish research or teach a course debunking the claims made in various ethnic, gender or other “studies” courses. Why did all this happen? Partly it happened because of the lure of the path of least resistance, especially to academic administrators and faculty. But there was no such widespread surrender to every noisy and belligerent group of student activists prior to the 1960s. Moreover, the example of the University of Chicago showed that surrender was not inevitable. The cost of resistance to the campus barbarians may not have been the only factor. Resistance requires a sense that there is something worth defending. But decades of dumbed-down education have produced people with no sense of the importance of a moral framework within which freedom and civil discourse can flourish. Without a moral framework, there is nothing left but immediate self-indulgence by some and the path of least resistance by others. Neither can sustain a free society. Disruptive activists indulge their egos in the name of idealism and others cave rather than fight. It’s not just academics who won’t defend decency. Trustees could fire college presidents who cave in to storm trooper tactics. Donors could stop donating to institutions that have sold out their principles to appease the campus barbarians. But when nobody is willing to defend civilized standards, the barbarians win. Whether on college campuses or among nations on the world stage, if the battle comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are bound to win. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
Wimps Versus Barbarians
Awesome. Unbelievable Governor of Colorado refused to meet with all these LEOs who are charged with enforcing the law. The lawsuit also includes disabled and womens’ group plaintiffs who also are fighting to protect their rights.
Receiving wide media attention and almost no critique, the George Soros–funded Constitution Project recently released its “Task Force on Detainee Treatment” report alleging “torture” by the George W. Bush Administration. Professing non-partisanship, the task force included former Arkansas Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson and former Reagan-appointed FBI director William Sessions, age 83, who left office amid allegations of ethics violations. A New York Times account described the report as a “nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11,” without noting funding by Soros and other left-wing philanthropies for the Constitution Project, which it called a “legal research and advocacy group.” The Task Force lamented there had never before in the U.S. been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” Liberal Baptist ethicist David Gushee of Mercer University, who co-authored the 2007 National Association of Evangelicals’ condemnation of U.S. enhanced interrogation as “torture,” was a prominent Task Force member. He spoke at the Constitution Project press conference at the National Press Club in April, where the nearly 600 page report was released after a two-year investigation. The project was led by former New York Times reporter Neil Lewis, with consulting from former Times reporter Adam Clymer. Unsurprisingly the Task Force concluded there is “no firm or persuasive evidence that the [the use of torture] produced significant information of value”; that the U.S. practiced under the Bush Administration what the U.S. and others had condemned by other governments as torture, including water-boarding, stress positions, extended sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation and prolonged solitary confinement; that this torture was authorized by the highest level political leaders; that the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel “repeatedly gave erroneous legal sanction” to torture; and the U.S. “violated its international legal obligations in its practice of the enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention of terror suspects in secret prisons abroad.” It also accused participating medical professionals of violating their professional ethical obligations. “The most important finding of this panel is that it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” Gushee declared some days later when speaking at All Saints Episcopal Church, a prominent liberal congregation in Pasadena, California. “Being able to hold onto ones principles in times of crisis is a key mark of moral maturity both for persons and for institutions,” he said. “It’s precisely when we are in emergency situations that we most need our ethics and our laws.” According to the Task Force, “There is substantial evidence that much of the information adduced from [torture] was not useful or reliable.” While speaking to Pasadena Episcopalians, Gushee said, “Does torture work? Well, maybe, maybe better than you know just a nice talking to. But no, we don’t torture children and we don’t torture anybody. Torture is a rare example of a practice that in international law is absolutely banned. No exceptions. So the fact that we have been seduced into having a conversation about whether it might be okay sometimes represents a terrible moral deterioration in our country.” Gushee complained: “America the exceptional nation is not being very exceptional here.” Although the Task Force did not directly urge prosecution of Bush era officials, Gushee insisted they were guilty of violating U.S. and international law. He doubted any would be charged but observed, “Whatever decision is made about people from the past has to be in service of protecting the rule of law, human rights, and the best traditions of our nation.” Since then, Gushee has urged national “repentance” over detention policies. The Task Force urged Guantanamo’s closure, with Hutchinson and one other member dissenting. It also likened U.S. torture practices to U.S. internment of Japanese citizens during World War II as a dark chapter that will be historically regretted. It did not allege torture under the Obama Administration but did criticize the Administration’s reluctance to release classified reports. Treating terrorists as unlawful combatants not fully protected by the Geneva Conventions must not occur again, the Task Force warned. It urged Congress to “strengthen the criminal prohibitions against torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” by defining torture to mean “an intentional act committed by a person acting under the color of law that inflicts severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.” It also wants lawful protections for all detainees against “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” that falls short of torture. The Task Force was funded with an initial start-up grant of at least $500,000 in 2011 (the last year for which figures are available) from Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society. The Constitution Project also received at least another $550,000 from Soros’ philanthropies between 2007-2011 for other projects. Opposing and discrediting U.S. enhanced interrogation and other aspects of the U.S. War against Terror has been a major focus for Soros philanthropy, including influencing religious groups, especially evangelicals. Soros gave over $1 million to the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which ultimately in 2007 helped to generate Gushee’s “An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror,” and which the National Association of Evangelicals embraced as its own. Soros got his money’s worth with this latest anti-torture report, which earned great media attention and virtually no critical analysis. Whether all detained terrorists merit the full protections of lawful combatants, or whether all aspects of enhanced interrogation qualify as torture, is debatable. But political initiatives funded by Soros, like the Constitution Project and its Task Force on Detainee Treatment, should be labeled as something more than “nonpartisan, independent,” “legal research.” Photo: UPI
Soros Funds Anti-‘Torture’ Report