The idea of universal human rights sounds nice, until one gets to the heart of the matter - that it depends on historical context. Then it falls apart. While many would like for rights to spread across the world, like something out of a zombie movie, this rarely happens.
We know this because the film, The Story of Human Rights, glosses over important elements in history to get to a sum total of human rights, and credits Eleanor Roosevelt with the idea of human rights. It's as though no one struggled for human rights or even thought of it before Eleanor or Franklin came on the scene. This is just a little too simple, and just as inaccurate. There was plenty of struggle for human rights as most of us well know.
Produced by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, The Story of Human Rights, talks about common rights, or what all human are supposed to have, or deserve. The problem is that rarely does the UN lead the way in distributing human rights. In fact, UN observers are known for doing nothing to protect human rights when they are obviously being ignored or people are being murdered by the thousands in various parts of the world. Since this declaration was crafted decades before mass genocides occurred, there is simply no excuse and no reason why it should not have improved human rights. What history shows is the complete opposite.
For anyone you wants to know what humans are; this video has the answer: Humans are members of the homo sapiens species.
What are rights: things to which you are entitled or allowed.
Therefore, human rights are the rights you are entitled to because you are human.
The film was made for Youth for Human Rights, evidently because the United Nations assumes that young people don't know anything about American history and need the United Nations to explain it to them.
It’s how you instinctively expect to be treated as a human. To speak your mind and to be treated as an equal. Human rights are the only ones that apply to everyone everywhere, whether it's Albanians, or Christians or Muslims. Of course human rights don't apply to everyone, because not everyone has them, so they are not universal.
They were declared to be unalienable, or rights that cannot be removed because they are given to man by God, via the value that God placed on man in the Bible, in Genesis. This is where Thomas Jefferson got his ideas about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not from any universal ideal of human rights. He got them from the Bible.
But back to the video, and the interviews in the video, which talk about human rights. the problem is that people, generally, don't know anything about the Bill of Rights that were approved by our own Congress in the 18th century.
Still, this effort is not without some interesting aspects: Article 24 says: Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay. Other rights: the right to play, the freedom to move and to copyright.
According to this video, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the world’s most widely accepted document on the subject. This, of course, is incorrect. The world's most widely accepted document on human rights is the Bible, since the Bible is where our founding fathers, and other fathers across mellenia, got their idea of human rights, or any rights.
At first, there were no human rights. Incorrect. Lots of people had rights. But they often trumped the rights of others. He also said people had the freedom to choose their religion. That’s a little ridiculous because what kinds of religions were around at that time. There were no exclusive religions other than Judaism and the worship of fertility and crop success. Is the worship of sex and birth a religion? What religions were they free to choose?
He documented this on the Cyrus cylinder and just like that, human rights were born. Not so fast. Just a few years before, Babylon was the most oppressive and cruel empire on earth, so far. And now, there was tolerance throughout the world?
Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon. And then rights began?
While Cyrus introduced a certain peace and tolerance among nations, his actions toward the Jewish people is described in 2 Chronicles and Ezra, in regard to efforts of the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem, which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. In fact, Cyrus overthrow of Babylon can be attributed to the hand of God on Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar.
The Bible chronicles the actions of Cyrus through 2 Chron: 36: 22, 23
22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
Also in Ezra:
Ezra: 1: 1 - 4: 1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.[a] 8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
Natural law is actually law based on nature, which is naturally very cruel. What is referred to as natural law that affects humans is actually God’s law, or the law that is inspired by the Genesis account that describes God’s work in creating human’s and human life. Actually, there is nothing natural about human rights, since they were fought for long and hard, and are actually unnatural.
The Magna Carta, 1215, was a charter agreed to by King John of England and a group of barons. It promised protection of church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice and limitations on feudal payment to the crown. Neither side stood by the “great charter.” It would be centuries before Kings of England stopped persecuting and imprisoning Christians, including Mary Tudor and King James. King James eventually allowed the printing of the Bible in England, but only famously burning some Christian pastors at the stake in the 16th century.
In fact, most of the freedoms that we have today are because of the Reformation begun by Martin Luther, beginning with his Ninety-Five Thesis.of 1517. After that and the publication of the German translation of the Bible, the push to print an English Bible spread rapidly. But so too did persecution of those who wanted to oppress this right. William Tyndale began translating the Bible in about 1522, after he received a copy of Luther’s Bible. He published the first English translation of the New Testament in 1526. He was strangled and burned at the stake in the same year. While dying he stated, “Lord, open the eyes of King of England’s eyes.”
The inclusion of “all people created equal” in the 13 colonies did not have a lot to do with human rights, other than they wanted the right not to be taxed and not respected the same as the rights of the English.. Thomas Jefferson added this because of this belief in a divine being who ordered the affairs of man.
The French immediately followed with their own revolution for rights. The problem with their revolution is that rather than respect people’s rights, it removed rights and massacred people left and right. Over 17,000 people were officially tried and executed during the Reign of Terror, and an unknown number of others died in prison or without trial. There was no new French democracy, which is mentioned by the film. Everybody did not have a right to vote.
The Roman concept of natural law had become natural rights. We should hope that Roman rights as they were practiced will never become our rights, because the Romans were probably one of the cruelest of empires on the face of the earth. They instituted crucifixion or mastered the art of crucifixion in order to intimidate the people they ruled. Other atrocities are documented in Bill O’Reilly’s book “Killing Jesus,” which refers to how an Emperor living on an island off the coast of Italy threw young boys and girls off a cliff after watching them have sex.
They got invaded conquered and consumed by Europe’s massive empires. The problem with this is that it is, again, inaccurate. The British brought Western Civilization to every region they colonized, including India. The fact that they often did not respect Indian rights and even killed many, does not mean that Indians were not ultimately gain from being colonized by the British. One of the things the British challenged and ultimately eliminated was the practice of Hindu women throwing themselves on their husbands funeral pyre. It was a common practice and well documented. As well, there are more Indian doctors in the U.S. than African American doctors, the result of the British colonizing their country.
United Nations purpose: To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of every human person. Again, there are plenty of examples of the United Nations doing nothing about human rights, or standing by while people are being massacred. The film produced is really a sad case of distorting history to support a document that has very little effect in practical matters, in legislation, in the enforcement of human rights in areas where suffering takes place. In fact, a movie was made about how U.N. observers allowed prostitution to take place in the Balkans and even participated in sex trade among prisoners of war. U.N. observers also did nothing to prevent genocides from taking place in areas of Africa.
Here are other rights: food and shelter; freedom of speech; right to eduction.
Education is prohibited in some Muslim societies. Slavery is allowed officially only in Muslim countries.
Why don’t these people have these rights? Because their governments have not instituted these rights in the same way that they have in Western countries. In other words, if one ignores the fact that some countries are exceptional, then will there ever be a real way to institute exceptional ways of living in other countries.
So the question is, who will make those words a reality? Not atheists and pagans who don't know anything about the Bill of Rights. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched for rights, he was marching for rights as a pastor. But people think we have rights because of the United Nations in the U.S., not because of a black Christian pastor.
What is really sad about Eleanor’s campaign is that her husband did nothing about Jim Crow laws in the U.S., and even continued discrimination in the Armed Forces. He was reelected by a majority of Democrats. It's likely that FDR was reelected multiple times because he did nothing about Jim Crow laws. If he had, it's likely that Southern Democrats would have found another candidate.
© 2016 Larry Ingram