Human rights v. economic crisis

Support for human rights should be second to nothing.

In the movie âÄúNetwork,âÄù newsman Howard Beale looks into the camera and says âÄúI donâÄôt have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad âĦ the dollar buys a nickelâÄôs worth, banks are going bust âĦ we know the air is unfit to breathe.âÄù To this, he demands his fellow man protest, âÄúIâÄôm a human being, God damn it! My life has value!âÄù And what, when put into the same situation, do our leaders tell us? That lives and rights have less value than broken banks or filthy air. Speaking about Sino-American relations Saturday, Sen. Hillary Clinton carried this shocking line, saying that issues like human rights and national sovereignty âÄúcanâÄôt interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises.âÄù In other words, little offenses like forcible organ harvesting, support of genocide in Darfur, slavery and âÄúenforced disappearancesâÄú canâÄôt be allowed to get in the way of our economic goals in Asia. Who has time to worry about human beings and civil rights when youâÄôve got a government to run? This is a false choice. Obviously, our economic position with China requires poise and prudence, but America is capable of promoting multiple foreign policy goals. Unless we tip our hand and forfeit our efforts to reclaim moral authority. But more locally, Americans should angrily reject these remarks. Although referring to the Chinese, the sentiment expressed by our senior diplomat has an ominous ring considering recent history. After Sept. 11, we prioritized âÄúsafetyâÄù over liberty to our detriment, and ClintonâÄôs remarks sound like weâÄôre eager to repeat the mistake. Considering what we lost under President George W. Bush, one wonders what we stand to lose this time around.