Does America engage in massive and widespread violations of human rights?
The Obama administration thinks so. That's the takeaway of the "Report of the United States of America Submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights." The introduction says it "gives a partial snapshot of the current human rights situation in the United States, including some of the areas where problems persist in our society."
What human rights problems?
One is the higher unemployment rate for blacks (15.8 percent) and Hispanics (12.4 percent) compared with that of whites (8.8 percent).
Unemployment is directly related to education. Blacks and Hispanics drop out of high school at a higher rate than whites. Some Asian-American groups, on the other hand, have unemployment rates similar to that of whites.
Low unemployment among these Asian-American groups results from high-school graduation rates that exceed those of whites. Comparing students at the same socio-economic level, Asians outperform whites, blacks and Hispanics on standardized tests. Government neglect is not the culprit. Cities with large black and Hispanic populations -- such as New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago -- spend more per student than do cities in Utah and Iowa, yet they do worse on standardized tests.
This is not good. But what has this to do with human rights?
Another "human rights" problem is the existence of "don't ask, don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to reject gay marriage. Until recently, former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell defended DADT, and he urged former President Bill Clinton to back away from his promise to allow gays to serve openly in the military. President Barack Obama publicly opposes gay marriage. However one feels about gays in the military or gay marriage, these are policy and value issues where reasonable people can disagree -- not matters of human rights.
Another so-called human rights problem is that of "sentencing disparities between powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses (because) those convicted of crack cocaine offenses are more likely to be members of a racial minority."
The stiff sentences for crack resulted from demands by Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus for Congress to do something about the inner-city crack trade and its attendant violence. Congress acted. When blacks got busted at higher rates than whites, this suddenly became a human rights issue.
Another human rights problem is unequal homeownership rates between whites and blacks and Hispanics, irrespective of creditworthiness or whether the ownership of a home is necessarily a good idea.