On June 6th, 2008, news spread in Geneva that the United States of America is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council by not renewing its ‘observer’ status. With mounting pressure on the Bush administration to address concerns about its own human rights record, this latest step seems to be a manifestation of an increasingly isolated administration, which itself has for years used the subtlest of terrorist tactics: fear, misinformation, and intolerance.
How can the Bush administration consider itself a principled body when it walks away from these important fora? In other words: since when is it more democratic, more civilized to walk away from discourse and opt for the same tokens as those used by the very countries who commit egregious abuses? Examples of this shared currency: the Iraq war, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary renditions, San Salvador, to name a random few. Coming together to talk, even with those who behave less humanely than others, at least establishes some degree of civility. The peculiar aggression of silence only brings about greater misunderstanding, and consequently, greater inhuman behavior to our fellows. Let’s get back to the table!