Not Optional

Many were shocked last February when Secretary of State Clinton said that pressing China about its human rights abuses “can’t interfere” with more important things—like “the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis.”

Even the Washington Post was shocked; its editors said Clinton’s comments were “misguided.” But now it seems that Clinton was only stating what was to be official Obama administration policy.

We saw this same attitude last month when Barack Obama declined to meet with the Dali Lama. The snub was an apparent effort to curry favor with Chinese leaders—leaders who deny religious liberty and human rights, not only to their own citizens, but also to Tibetans.

Obama’s refusal to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader reminded me of when President Ford wrongly refused to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the heroic Russian dissident.

Obama and his aides have also reportedly refused to meet with a representative of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

And now we learn that the President has been quietly cutting off aid to groups that monitor human rights abuses and fight on behalf of human freedom—especially in Iran.

In the Wall Street Journal, David Feith and Bar Weiss write that the administration has eliminated millions of dollars in funding for the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Freedom House, and the State Department’s Iran Democracy Fund.

These actions go against everything America stands for. Our worldview is largely informed by our Christian heritage—one that puts human dignity first. Has this administration forgotten that human rights have always been America’s greatest export?

We believe that all humans are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, as our Declaration of Independence says. We can’t just write off these rights for the sake of climate change or the economy; they’re central to who we are. function fbs_click() {u=location.href.substring(0,location.href.lastIndexOf(‘/’));t=document.title;window.open(‘http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=’+encodeURIComponent(u)+’&t=’+encodeURIComponent(t),’sharer’,’toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436′);return false;}

I knew this before I became a Christian. In 1973 President Nixon sent me to Moscow to negotiate for the release of Soviet Jews. I told Vasily Kuznetsov, the hard-line Soviet negotiator, that if the Soviets did not loosen their restrictions, Congress would not pass the trade treaty, which the Soviets desperately needed. Release the Jews, I said—or kiss American grain goodbye.

Kuznetsov pounded the table and shouted, “You have no right to interfere in our internal affairs!”

“These aren’t your internal affairs,” I replied. “Human rights are not conferred by government; they cannot be denied by government. They are God-given. We call them ‘inalienable.’”

Kuznetsov finally agreed to release the Jews—and America shipped its grain.

I can’t take credit for that; it was the U.S. Congress and the American people who freed those captives. And it will take the same pressure from Congress and the American people to free captives in China, Iran, North Korea, and anywhere else people are denied their God-given rights.

I hope you’ll contact the White House, Hillary Clinton, and your representatives with a strong message—one loud enough to be heard by people languishing in prisons around the world: The principles that guided us throughout our history are not for sale.

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  • krby34

    But your article brings out the most telling point of our current President. He is a scholar of U.S. Constitutional Law. The Declaration of Independence you refer to is just a stuffy antique piece of paper with writing on it. It does not carry the power of law. The U.S. Constitution on the other hand is a “living” document that carries the power of law. Funny how an Administration so set on death uses a “living” document to be interpreted as they see fit to fight for personal goals that if acquired would only benefit those whom were selected to be there to enjoy them. Only those with the control and power to protect themselves from being marginalized by the Administration. Only those who can on their own defend those rights the Declaration of Independence so eloquently puts it as “inalienable” but always seem to be under threat somewhere by someone, even in one of the great nations that started out with that principle.

    Mother Mary pray for us. St. Micheal Pray for us. Jesus have mercy on us. AMEN

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