SLAVERY AND THE LEFT: Jay Nordlinger appropriately rips into this Michael Ignatieff piece for stating that “a coalition of liberals and black churches” were the main forces behind the American movement “to end slavery [in Sudan] and stop Khartoum’s war against the south.” As Nordlinger points out, “For years, conservatives had been trying to draw attention to Sudan and its slavery, and no one cared.” Mainstream human rights groups certainly noticed the atrocities, and did some good reporting on them, but in no way led a public outcry on the subject. But Nordlinger wrongly suggests that “liberals” turned a blind eye to the horror in Sudan (and Mauritania). A.M. Rosenthal and Nat Hentoff, not exactly men of the Right, have been tireless on this matter. Black fraternities and sororities–not organizations whose booths you’d expect to find at CPAC–have also done great work here. The main dividing line seems to be those Christians and non-Christians who welcome the growing Christian human rights movement, and those Christians and non-Christians who fear it as yet another example of repressive white Western phallogocentrism. Anyway, if you want updates on this crucial work, sign up for an e-newsletter here. (I’m not going to get into the “slave redemption” controversy–that’s for another post, when I have more time–but you can sign up without endorsing every tactic of every anti-slavery group.) More great human rights links are here, here, here, and here. (That last also offers a free e-newsletter, including thoughtful “letters from the director”–the gallant Lawrence Uzzell–on all kinds of aspects of religious freedom.)
If Ignatieff is right that “mainstream” human rights groups like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (he doesn’t name the latter two, but I can’t think who else he might mean) are losing their relevance in a post-9/11 world, it isn’t because Americans no longer care about human rights. It’s because those organizations have discredited themselves by consistently siding against America and wigging out about fashionable lefty causes. (When I was at Yale, HRW actually took a stand in favor of the unrecognized graduate student union and against the university. What this has to do with the child soldiers of Sierra Leone is anybody’s guess.) HRW and the rest have also been noticeably quiet on population-control abuses, like those described in this article on a leaked U.N. report. Their reputation is collapsing, at least temporarily. I predict that Freedom House, Keston, and the other smaller, more responsible groups, which dole out praise and blame on a genuinely nonpartisan basis, will not suffer any loss of relevance. They’re more relevant than ever. It would be great if Ignatieff checked them out. You’ll have to do it for him.