Well, yesterday I took a look at the new Revised Arab Charter Of Human Rights from the Arab League of States — and found it seriously wanting.
Longtime detractor and contrarian “Herman” took issue with my position, and made a comparison between the Charter and the works of the Founding Fathers — pointing out that many of them were slave owners, attempting — I think — to strike a sort of moral equivalence between them and the men behind the Charter.
I don’t accept this, but I think that the point Herman raises has some rather fascinating implications — ones that escaped him.
If we grant Herman his point for the moment, that would put the Arab League at the same moral point that we ourselves were at over 200 years ago. Those were the days when women were chattel, blacks often property, and only white male landowners were allowed to vote. Capital and corporal punishment was a given, and Indians were subhuman savages.
While this would be an improvement over the traditional Arab beliefs, it’s hardly a sign of hope for them. Indeed, if you listen to them, they are morally superior to us already — they see no reason to improve things.
But enough of Herman’s silliness. There is another, far more fundamental, difference between this Charter and the United States’ founding documents.
The Declaration of Independence says the following:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Note that the rights are inalienable — cannot be taken away — and endowed to men by “their Creator.” This means that they are not granted by any earthly authority.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
This states unequivocally that the powers of government come from the people, and that the power and rights of the people do NOT come from the government.
And the Preamble to the Constitution affirms this statement:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The very foundation of the United States is the individual, joined together with other individuals, exercising their undeniable rights to grant power to the government.
Whereas the Charter clearly derives its authority in a different way:
Based on the faith of the Arab nation in the dignity of the human person whom God has exalted ever since the beginning of creation and in the fact that the Arab homeland is the cradle of religions and civilizations whose lofty human values affirm the human right to a decent life based on freedom, justice and equality, In furtherance of the eternal principles of fraternity, equality and tolerance among human beings consecrated by the noble Islamic religion and the other divinely-revealed religions,
Being proud of the humanitarian values and principles that the Arab nation has established throughout its long history, which have played a major role in spreading knowledge between East and West, so making the region a point of reference for the whole world and a destination for seekers of knowledge and wisdom,
Believing in the unity of the Arab nation, which struggles for its freedom and defends the right of nations to self-determination, to the preservation of their wealth and to development; believing in the sovereignty of the law and its contribution to the protection of universal and interrelated human rights and convinced that the human person’s enjoyment of freedom, justice and equality of opportunity is a fundamental measure of the value of any society,
Rejecting all forms of racism and Zionism, which constitute a violation of human rights and a threat to international peace and security, recognizing the close link that exists between human rights and international peace and security, reaffirming the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and having regard to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam…
So we learn that the Arab notion of “human rights” derives from the Islamic faith and the “Arab nation.” This raises the implication that one need to accept the Islamic faith — or, at least, acknowledge its authority — or risk being excluded. After all, if one rejects Islam, then one cannot then claim any rights that derive from Islam.
Hey, Herman might have a point. The Constitution tacitly endorsed slavery, by counting them as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of representation, and the Charter explicitly equates Zionism and racism. There could be a parallel there.
But the Abolitionist movement was already well under way at the time of the Constitution, and it was their influence that won even that much of a concession from the slave states.
Where are the modern-day Arab equivalents of the Abolitionists? Where are the Muslims fighting to improve the Charter and make things more fair and equal and just?
They’re easy to identify — but not so easy to find. That’s because they’re the ones that are being threatened (often successfully) with beheading or some other form of death by the majority of Muslims.
This Charter isn’t “half a loaf” — as in “half a loaf is better than none.” It’s a steaming loaf, pinched out and stinking up things until some brave soul gives it a courtesy flush.
Until then, we have no shortage of Islamists and their apologists who are cheerfully volunteering to polish it.