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Posted by on Feb 14, 2010 in International, Media, Places, Politics, Religion, Society | 5 comments

Where the Right’s Enthusiasm for Legal Black Holes Breaks Down

The recent arrest of 10 American missionaries who went to Haiti on a supposed “rescue mission” and left that country with 33 Haitian children without the knowledge or authorization of Haitian authorities has exposed an ugly double standard among those on the right who have been the most contemptuous of human rights advocates and the work they do.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is either hypocritical or clueless enough (or maybe both) to invoke Human Rights Watch to buttress her case that one member of this church group, Jim Allen, is being mistreated. Glenn Greenwald’s lacerating commentary is a thing of beauty:

National Review‘s Kathryn Jean Lopez is deeply upset by the plight of at least one of the detained Americans, Jim Allen, whom she contends (based exclusively on his family’s claims) is innocent.  Lopez demands that the State Department do more to “insist” upon Allen’s release, and — most amazingly of all — complains about the conditions of his detention.   She has the audacity to cite a Human Rights Watch description of prison conditions in Haiti as “inhumane.”  Lopez complains that Allen was waterboarded, stripped, frozen and beaten has “hypertension,” was shipped thousands of miles away to a secret black site beyond the reach of the ICRC and then rendered to Jordan allowed to speak to his wife only once in the first ten days of his confinement, and was consigned to years in an island-prison cage with no charges denied his choice of counsel for a few days (though he is now duly represented in Haitian courts by a large team of American lawyers).

You know what else Human Rights Watch vehemently condemns as human rights abuses?  Guantanamo, military commissions, denial of civilian trials, indefinite detention, America’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” renditions, and a whole slew of other practices that are far more severe than the conditions in Haiti about which Lopez complains and yet which have been vocally supported by National Review.  In fact, Lopez’s plea for Allen is surrounded at National Review by multiple and increasingly strident attacks on the Obama administration by former Bush officials Bill Burck and Dana Perino for (allegedly) abandoning those very policies, as well as countless posts from former Bush speechwriter (and the newest Washington Post columnist) Marc Thiessen promoting his new book defending torture.  Lopez herself has repeatedly cheerled for Guantanamo and related policies, hailing Mitt Romney’s call in a GOP debate that we “double Guantanamo” as his “best answer” and saying she disagrees with John McCain’s anti-torture views, while mocking human rights concerns with the term “Club Gitmo.”  And National Review itself has led an endless attack on the credibility of Human Rights Watch, accusing it of anti-Israel and anti-American bias for daring to point out the human rights abuses perpetrated by those countries.

What’s going on here is quite clear, quite odious, and quite common.  It goes without saying that because he hasn’t yet had a trial, Allen could be perfectly innocent, or he could be guilty of some rather heinous crimes — just as is true of Guantanamo detainees held for years without charges or a trial (indeed, even with Haiti virtually destroyed under rubble, Allen — unlike GITMO detainees — is receiving full due process).  Why would National Review — which endorses far worse abuses when perpetrated on Muslims convicted of nothing — take up the cause of an accused child smuggler and possible child trafficker, and suddenly find such grave concern over detainee conditions?  Or, to use their warped vernacular, which equates unproven accusations with guilt, why would National Review be advocating for the rights of child kidnappers and child traffickers?  Because, as a Christian, Allen is deemed by National Review to deserve basic human rights, unlike the Muslim detainees whose (far worse) abuse they have long supported. …

Despite the length of this quote, there is more, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.

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  • Schadenfreude_lives

    OK, talk about a false comparison.

    I do not condone what the “missionaries” were doing, as it seem obvious they lied to the parents of the children, to the Haitian authorities, the press, and even it seems to each other. I also agree that the complaining of the conditions is so much spilled milk, but not for the reasons Glenn Greenwald states.

    To equate the techniques used on those who attempt mass murder of civilians to the discomfort of probable child traffickers, no matter their claims of ‘doing God’s work’, is disgusting.

    It again shows the willingness of the Left to look for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to attack Christians and Christianity, which they have, as a whole, consistently treated as a greater threat than radical Muslims.

    • JeffersonDavis

      Kathy’s right, Schadenfreude…..

      Running a legit church-backed adoption agency is EXACTLY THE SAME as planting IEDs and planning terrorist attacks against innocent civilians.


      “It again shows the willingness of the Left to look for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to attack Christians and Christianity, which they have, as a whole, consistently treated as a greater threat than radical Muslims.”

      Amen, brother. Been saying that for years now. Perhaps they’d listen if I wore a burka.

  • Leonidas

    Agreed, trying to rescue children from a disaster stricken country isn’t quite the same as terrorism. However, the Haitian officials were not aware of this and the operation deserves some condemnation for not abiding by legal process. The comparison is poor but there are a few similarities that should be actually looked at minus this hyperbole.

    Furthermore the enthusiasm extends beyond the right, as the Obama administration hasn’t been shy to endorse indefinate detention either.

  • rorybellows

    @ Schadenfreude and JeffDavis

    I think you guys are missing the point. The point isn’t to compare terrorists and child abductors. The point is that the rule of law is necessary when it’s possible that innocent people are being held w/o habeus corpus to be able to challenge their detention. It’s kind of important to be able to challenge your detention if you beleive you are innocent, right?

    From the article you skimmed:

    Would you rather be an American wrongfully accused of child trafficking even in the post-earthquake Haitian justice system (complete with lawyers, access to courts, and full due process), or a Muslim wrongly accused of Terrorism by the U.S. Government (and put in a black hole for years with no rights)? To ask the question is to answer it. The primary duty of a citizen is to protest bad acts by their own government. If you’re acquiescing to or even endorsing serious human rights abuses by your own government, then it’s not only morally absurd — but laughably ineffective — to parade around as some sort of human rights crusader when it comes time to protest the treatment of one of your own, however you might define that. It might produce some soothing feelings of self-satisfaction, but nobody will remotely take that seriously, nor should they.

  • jeff_pickens
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