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An ethics lesson for USA Today’s “queer” bullies

Michelle Malkin - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:22

An ethics lesson for USA Today’s “queer” bullies
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2018

This week, I did something that USA Today’s executive leadership apparently hadn’t done lately: I read the newspaper’s “principles of ethical conduct for newsrooms.”

It’s pretty highfalutin. The media manifesto of virtue, posted online, applies to all employees “working with any news platform, including newspapers, websites, mobile devices, video, social media channels and live story events.” Whether writing online or covering breaking developments, USA Today’s journalists are supposedly committed to:

–Seeking and reporting the truth in a truthful way.

–Serving the public interest.

–Exercising fair play.

–Acting with integrity.

Now, let’s compare the lofty rhetoric with low-blow reality. On Sunday, 21-year-old University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy. He gave a gracious, emotional speech that celebrated his faith in God, respect for his fellow athletes, love of family, lifelong work ethic and team spirit.

“I’ve worked my whole life to fulfill my goals, but at the same time, I know there’s a higher power looking down on me. He enables me to do all things. For that I’m grateful — for the many blessings that God has blessed me with,” Murray humbly told reporters.

But one reporter wasn’t interested in covering the actual news of the Heisman winner’s triumph. He was interested in sabotaging it. Within hours of the press conference, USA Today sports writer Scott Gleeson penned an article attacking Murray for posting “tweets using an anti-gay slur.” Murray and family awoke Monday morning to a barrage of character smears slamming his “homophobic” posts from six years ago — when Murray was 14 or 15 years old and jokingly called his friends “queer.” Google is now clogged with wall-to-wall coverage of his teenage antics from CNN to “The Today Show” to every sports outlet and his hometown Oklahoma newspaper.

Gleeson’s hit piece reeks of deceptive vigilantism, not journalism. After noting that Murray had a “Saturday to remember,” Gleeson wrote that “the Oklahoma quarterback’s memorable night also helped resurface social media’s memory of several homophobic tweets more than six years old.”

Who “resurfaced social media’s memory?” Why, it was Gleeson himself! By creating an illusion that Murray’s schoolboy tweets were the subject of any scrutiny and outrage other than Gleeson’s own, USA Today gave us a shining example of the manufacturing of fake news. Ain’t misleading passive voice grand?

Indeed, Gleeson’s own biography is one of a social justice advocate dedicated to identity politics propaganda. “My enterprise and human interest work on the LGBT movement in sports made me an APSE award finalist in 2016 and a USBWA award winner in 2017,” Gleeson boasts. Was he aiming for another award with his ambush of Murray? Gleeson certainly got his new scalp and paraded it prominently, with aiding and abetting by USA Today’s silent, AWOL editors. Within hours of publication, Murray had apologized.

Gleeson’s new headline blared:

“Kyler Murray apologizes for homophobic tweets that resurfaced after he won Heisman Trophy.”

On Tuesday, I wrote to USA Today’s editor in chief Nicole Carroll and executive editor for news Jeff Taylor with the following questions:

How does Gleeson’s article comport with USA Today’s stated principles of ethical conduct for newsrooms?

Specifically, how did the piece “serve the public interest,” “exercise fair play,” exhibit “fairness in relations with people unaccustomed to dealing with news media,” observe “standards of decency” and demonstrate “integrity”?

And have there been any executive leadership discussions about the piece since its publication and widespread public backlash?

The editors have not responded yet. In the meantime, I have more questions.

How does lying in wait in for unknown months or years (when Gleeson could have “resurfaced” the old tweets at any time) and publishing a smear in the middle of the night before giving Murray a chance to respond comport with the newspaper’s promises that:

“We will be honest in the way we gather, report and present news — with relevancy, persistence, context, thoroughness, balance, and fairness in mind.

“We will seek to gain understanding of the communities, individuals and issues we cover to provide an informed account of activities.

“We will uphold First Amendment principles to serve the democratic process.

“We will reflect and encourage understanding of the diverse segments of our community.

“We will provide editorial and community leadership.

“We will treat people with respect and compassion.

“We will strive to include all sides relevant to a story.

“We will give particular attention to fairness in relations with people unaccustomed to dealing with the news media.

“We will act honorably and ethically in dealing with news sources, the public and our colleagues.

“We will observe standards of decency.”

Will the editors respond publicly to criticism and address readers and employees so that their actions match these words?

“We will explain to audiences our journalistic processes to promote transparency and engagement.

“We will correct errors promptly.

“We will take responsibility for our decisions and consider the possible consequences of our actions.”

Tick tock.


Update: I received the following response late yesterday not from the executive editors I addressed, but from assistant managing editor Peter Barzilai and “ethics and standards” editor Manny Garcia:

Good evening Michelle,

We appreciate you reaching out. We have covered Kyler Murray extensively this fall leading up to his Heisman Trophy win. We reported on Murray’s tweets after they were circulating on social media and he’d been named the Heisman winner on Saturday night. We then followed up the next morning with his apology where he acknowledged the statements were inappropriate. As the Heisman Trophy winner, we were reporting the news as it happened because he is a public figure.

Thank you,
Peter Barzilai and Manny Garcia

Translation: Double down.

Washington’s Short-Term Thinking Won’t Head off the Coming Debt Crisis

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:48

Michael D. Tanner

Recently, The Daily Beast reported that when President Trump was briefed early last year about the future consequences of the federal debt, he replied bluntly, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.”

It would be easy to shake our heads at yet another example of the president’s inability to think beyond the present. But Trump is hardly alone in his disregard for our looming debt crisis; with characteristic pithiness, his dismissive response expressed the basic attitude of most Washington lawmakers.

Lawmakers and President Trump must look beyond their own immediate political prospects to imagine the country they’ll leave behind.

Yet, if we don’t stem the rising tide of red ink it will pose an intolerable burden for our kids and grandkids. But to be fair to lawmakers, they’re not wrong: The bill for our profligacy won’t come due until well after the next election. Our children and grandchildren don’t vote. And anything done today to fix the problem — raising taxes, cutting spending, reforming entitlements, etc. — will anger one group or another of Americans who do vote.

Because most lawmakers indulge such a short-sighted, self-interested stance, however, the federal deficit will exceed $779 billion this year and top $1 trillion in the next. The national debt now exceeds $21 trillion. And it will get worse. The federal debt will double as a percentage of the economy within the next 30 years. Within the next 75 years, the debt could exceed a phenomenal 600 percent of GDP, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Interest on the debt is already the fastest-growing portion of the federal budget, and as interest rates begin to rise, it will skyrocket even faster. Within the next five years, interest on the debt is expected to be larger than the defense budget. By 2050, it will exceed Social Security spending, and, by 2070, it will exceed spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare combined. No matter what your political perspective or policy priorities, that can’t be an enticing prospect.

Yet the Trump administration and its congressional allies continue to pursue a policy of increasing both domestic and defense spending, protecting entitlements, and reducing taxes. (One can at least claim that the tax cuts have increased economic growth in the short term: Despite the cuts, revenues are still up by roughly 1 percent this year.)

Now we are approaching yet another government showdown. Congress has only been able to pass seven of the required twelve appropriations bills it must pass by December 21 to avoid a partial shutdown over Christmas, although the remaining five are expected to be rolled into a single spending measure. Bipartisan negotiations have broken down, after an Oval Office meeting Tuesday between Trump and Democratic leaders went nowhere.

And what has led to this impasse? Is Congress debating how to control spending or reform entitlements (or even tax policy)? No. They have already agreed that this funding bill will increase spending substantially. Instead, they are fighting over whether spend an additional $5 billion on the president’s border wall.

The dirty little secret of Washington is that very few lawmakers actually care about the deficit or the debt. Occasionally it may provide a useful cudgel with which to beat the opposing party. But no one is going to do anything about it without a president who cares more about the country he will leave behind for his successors than about his present-day approval ratings.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis.

Next New York attorney general promises to 'use every area of the law' to probe Trump and family

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:37
Incoming New York Attorney General Letitia James plans to fully investigation President Trump and his family's business dealings when she takes office next year.

Nationalism and Populism Detrimental to Freedom

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:12

Tanja Porčnik and Visio Institut

With the rise of nationalism, populism, and hybrid forms of authoritarianism, freedom has been for years under assault in many parts of the world.

Unsurprisingly, among the countries with the most substantial deteriorations in freedom in recent years are Turkey and Poland, both experiencing evident weakening of the rule of law, contracting religious freedom, and attacks on freedom of expression.

Today we are releasing the fourth annual Human Freedom Index, the most comprehensive measure of freedom ever created for a large number of countries around the globe. The report documents global freedom on a continuing decline since 2008, the earliest year for which a robust enough index could be produced.

Freedom has indeed taken root in various societies, and it is also spreading in numerous countries around the globe.

On a country level, we have seen the most significant deteriorations during this time in Greece, Brazil, Venezuela, Egypt, and Syria. Also, notably, Russia’s rating fell from 6.53 in 2008 to 6.27 in 2016; Hungary’s rating fell from 8.05 to 7.74; Argentina’s score dropped from 7.04 to 6.47; and Turkey’s rating decreased from 6.92 to 6.47 (between 2011 and 2016, Turkey’s rating decreased even more markedly, falling from 7.22 to 6.47).

On a positive side, countries that saw improvement in their level of human freedom most since 2008 are Côted’Ivoire, Angola, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, and Lesotho.

Freedom has indeed taken root in various societies, and it is also spreading in numerous countries around the globe. Notably, New Zealand tops the Human Freedom Index rankings this year, followed by Switzerland.

Both outperform Hong Kong, whose ranking and ratings continue to drop in light of ever-increasing interference and perceived interference by mainland China in Hong Kong’s policies and institutions, including infringements on freedom of the press and the independence of the legal system.

Other selected countries rank as follows: Australia (4th), Canada (5th), the Netherlands and Denmark (tied in 6th place), Ireland and the United Kingdom (tied in 8th place), and Finland, Norway, and Taiwan (tied in 10th place), Germany (13), the United States and Sweden (tied in 17th place), Japan (31), France and Chile (tied in 32nd place), Italy (34th), South Africa (63rd), Mexico (75th), Indonesia (85th), Argentina and Turkey (tied in 107th place), India and Malaysia (tied in 110th place), Russia (119th), China (135th), Pakistan (140th), Saudi Arabia (146th), Iran (153rd), Egypt (156th), Iraq (159th), Venezuela (161st), and Syria (162nd).

The freest countries in Eastern Europe include Estonia (ranked 14 globally), Lithuania (20), the Czech Republic (21), Latvia (23), and Romania (24). The least free country in the region is Belarus (128) preceded by Russia (119), Ukraine (118), Moldova (75), and Greece (61) (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Human Freedom in Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe as a region has less freedom than North America, Western Europe, Oceania, and East Asia, but more than Latin America &the Caribbean, Caucasus & Central Asia, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa (see Figure 2).

The most significant improvement in freedom since 2008 occurred in East Asia (0.11) and sub-Saharan Africa (0.11), while the largest deteriorations in freedom occurred in the Caucasus and Central Asia (−0.25) and the Middle East and North Africa (−0.58), the least free region.

Figure 2: Human Freedom Score by Region (2016) and Changes (2008-2016)

Figure 3 shows that within Eastern Europe, the most significant improvement in freedom since 2008 occurred in Macedonia (0.16), Estonia (0.09), and Slovenia (0.08), while Montenegro (-0.21), Hungary (-0.15), and Poland (-0.10) saw the biggest deteriorations.

Figure 3: Human Freedom in Central and Eastern Europe (2008-2016)

Of the 12 major categories that make up the index, all except three saw some deterioration since 2008.

Religion, Movement, and Rule of Law saw the most significant decreases in freedom since 2008, while Sound Money saw the largest improvement (see Figure 4).

Figure 3: Human Freedom in Central and Eastern Europe (2008-2016)

Figure 3 shows that within Eastern Europe, the most significant improvement in freedom since 2008 occurred in Macedonia (0.16), Estonia (0.09), and Slovenia (0.08), while Montenegro (-0.21), Hungary (-0.15), and Poland (-0.10) saw the biggest deteriorations.

Of the 12 major categories that make up the index, all except three saw some deterioration since 2008.

Religion, Movement, and Rule of Law saw the most significant decreases in freedom since 2008, while Sound Money saw the largest improvement (see Figure 4).

With the Human Freedom Index, my coauthor Ian Vasquez and I aim to capture the degree to which people are free to enjoy fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, religion, association, and assembly, and also measures freedom of movement, women’s freedoms, crime and violence, and legal discrimination against same-sex relationships.

In this context, the index ranks 162 countries based on 79 distinct indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedom, using data from 2008 to 2016, the most recent year for which sufficient data are available.

Tanja Porčnik is President and co-founder of the Visio Institute, a think tank in Slovenia, and co-author of The Human Freedom Index. An adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. isio Institut is an independent public policy think tank in Slovenia. Aiming for open, free, fair and developed Slovenia, the Visio Institut is publishing a ray of publications, while Visio scholars regularly appear in media and at public events.

Nate Silver blasted for claiming Ocasio-Cortez criticism rooted in sexism, racism

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 08:55
FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver took heat Tuesday night for a tweet claiming Republicans are so critical of incoming Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because of her “race and gender.”   

The Battle Inside the Political Parties for the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 08:46

Emma Ashford and A. Trevor Thrall

“The time is long overdue for a vigorous discussion about our foreign policy, and how it needs to change in this new era.” -Sen. Bernie Sanders

“The United States needs a national security doctrine around which a consensus can be built — both between the Democratic and the Republican Parties and with those who share our interests and values overseas.” — Gov. John Kasich

When the new members of the 116th Congress arrive in Washington next month, they’re likely to find themselves focusing on a relatively unusual priority: foreign policy. And though Democrats promised during the midterms to challenge President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it’s not just about opposition to the president. With a flurry of think pieces proposing roadmaps for new progressive, liberal, or conservative foreign policies, everyone’s talking about the future of U.S. foreign policy. The most important of these debates are the ones inside the two political parties, as Republicans and Democrats attempt to build foreign policy platforms with an eye toward the 2020 election.

Curious to understand where the right and left are heading on foreign policy, we’ve held a variety of events at the Cato Institute to try and understand this question: a roundtable building on Patrick Porter’swork on the “liberal international order,” events with notable critics of the existing foreign policy consensus, such as Harvard’s Stephen Walt, meetings to explore potential areas of common ground between libertarians and progressives, and interviews with experts for Power Problems, our biweekly podcast.

The results highlight not only the internal debate inside the Republican Party, but also the growing demand inside the Democratic Party for a coherent alternative both to Trump and to the existing foreign policy consensus that he helped discredit. We also found evidence of an unexpected and potentially significant turn in U.S. foreign policy: a new bipartisan consensus on the need to confront and contain China.

‘Hurricane Trump’

Though he’s seemingly ignorant or indifferent to many of the issues in question, Trump at least deserves credit for reinvigorating the debate over the fundamental purposes of American foreign policy. As Peter Beinart put it, “in his incoherent and immoral way, he has challenged the assumption that the pursuit of unipolarity serves average Americans.”

But while Trump has upended the traditional tenets of American foreign policy; as of yet, neither party has a coherent replacement. Nor is there any going back to the way things were before. As Jake Sullivanrecently told us, “Hurricane Trump has come in. He’s destroyed a lot of the infrastructure of U.S. foreign policy and of the international order, and now we can’t just build back the way we were before. We have to build back better.”

If you’re going to challenge Trump’s foreign policy, there are two options: embrace the status quo or seek a new consensus. Both sides of the aisle have a status quo wing and a revisionist wing fighting to determine their parties’ foreign policy future. These fights focus on six critical questions that will be fundamental to American foreign policy in the coming decades:

  • Should the United States continue to pursue primacy, attempting to control events around the world, or should it accept that the world is becoming more multipolar and seek to do less abroad?
  • Should the United States continue to rely heavily on military intervention, or should it use non-military tools of foreign policy to deal with terrorism, civil war, and other issues?
  • Should the United States pursue a foreign policy aimed at spreading liberal values, such as human rights and democracy, or is such an approach contrary to the American national interest?
  • Should the United States embrace multilateralism and enhance alliances and international institutions, or should it pursue a more unilateral foreign policy?
  • Should the United States seek to strengthen and expand the global system of free trade, or instead pursue a nationalist and protectionist trade policy?
  • Should America partner with China and accept a growing Chinese sphere of influence in Asia, or should it attempt to confront, contain, and undermine Chinese power?

Little progress has been made toward consensus on either side of the aisle, and neither party has a clear objective. That in itself is not new — since the end of the Cold War, Democratic and Republican administrations have pursued a variety of vague goals in foreign policy, from “dual containment” to counter-terrorism to human rights. Often, the only uniting factor has been a belief in America’s role as what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described as the “indispensable nation.” Today, however, both Republicans and Democrats are openly questioning that assumption.

Republicans: The President Frames the Debate

On the Republican side, Trump has split conservatives into two camps. The status quo camp — perhaps better described as “status quo ante” — remains staunchly committed to the open internationalism and muscular American leadership of the Reagan era. Rooted in a firm belief in American exceptionalism, this approach emphasizes the defense of democracy and spread of American values.

Many of these true believers — once the guiding light of Republican foreign policy — are now on the outside. Just look at Bill Kristol, exiled to irrelevance by an increasingly Trump-dominated Republican party. Meanwhile, those still on the inside, like Sens. Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham, continue to hold to their traditional views — for example, advocating for a humanitarian intervention in Venezuela — but routinely coopt Trump’s language and support him in other areas in order to maintain access and influence.

Trump himself represents the second camp, promoting an illiberal, nationalist, and autarkic view of American foreign policy that dismisses long-held assumptions about alliances, free trade, and immigration. Though a few advocates have attempted to hang an intellectual framework on this viewpoint — chief among them Sen. Tom Cotton - it remains an instinctive, poorly theorized worldview.

At present, the president and his allies have the momentum in the battle to define conservative foreign policy. He may have failed to transform American foreign policy completely in his first two years in office, but there is no doubt that he has changed the terms of debate within conservative circles. Indeed, Trump’s electoral success drew our attention to the fact that many voters believe America’s traditional approach to foreign policy has not worked for them.

Whether they agree with him or not, Republican political leaders have tended to toe the line. Their failure to challenge him (at least in public) on Russia, trade, and other issues has signaled to their constituents that Trump’s views are their views. Thus, while it is too early to predict how this debate will turn out, the longer Trump serves, the likelier it is that “America First” will permanently reshape the foreign policy of the Republican Party, leaving it with little in the way of a coherent approach. As Bryan McGrath told us:

My problem is these days I don’t know what a coherent Republican foreign policy is. I know what it was: American exceptionalism was smack dab in the middle of it. A strong, active role in the world from a position of leadership…I hear the administration talking about a strong military, but to do what? It’s not like they wish to be involved in the world.

Democrats: In Search of a Strong Opposition

Among Democrats, the competing camps appear less polarized, but important, longstanding differences between the two remain. The status quo camp still advocates a Clinton-style liberal internationalist position — an approach similar to the Reaganite Republican status quo in method and results, if not necessarily in motivation. This view is less prevalent among likely candidates, and far more common in the Democratic foreign policy establishment - people like Sullivan or Michele Flournoy. By putting human rights and democracy promotion on center stage, the Clinton Democrats continue to embrace America as the “indispensable nation” and its responsibility to use military force in wide range of contingencies, from regional stabilization to humanitarian intervention.

Yet the progressive wing of the party is increasingly challenging these voices. These progressive leaders are more skeptical of the use of military force and American exceptionalism more generally. Though these progressives share with Republican “America First” advocates a distaste for the excesses of primacy, they generally offer a far more coherent and internally consistent alternative to the status quo. In some cases, they have even adopted the language of ongoing grand strategic debates: In a recent speech at the Cato Institute, for example, Rep. Ro Khanna argued that “if we want to lead in the 21st century, we have to return to a foreign policy of restraint.”

Other progressives are interested in tying foreign policy more closely to domestic policy and attacking Trump-style kleptocracy at home and abroad — a campaign that undoubtedly plays well against the backdrop of the president’s numerous conflicts of interest. In a recent article, Sen. Elizabeth Warren argued that “the United States can no longer maintain the comfortable assumption that its domestic and foreign policies are separate.” Bernie Sanders, her potential 2020 presidential challenger, has likewise been promoting a new focus on global corruption and kleptocracy.

But the sharpest internal conflicts concern military intervention and free trade. As Dan Nexon described, “the coalition seems divided between two depressingly familiar alternatives: liberal internationalists of the kind associated with the Democratic establishment, and anti-hegemonists, who want to see the United States drastically reduce its pretensions to global leadership.” Certainly, this coalition is increasingly dubious about billions of dollars in arms sales and unreliable partners, like Saudi Arabia. Yet on the questions of intervention and free trade, there is no clear consensus.

A Developing Consensus

Ultimately, it is too early to predict a winner on either side. If a new foreign policy consensus emerges, it could be radically different in its prescriptions or merely a reskinned version of the status quo — a kind of “primacy lite.” A gradual evolution toward a slightly revised version of primacy is most likely in the Democratic Party, where the status quo and progressive wings enjoy a at least some common ground in their fight against Trump. A more radical future seems more likely on the Republican side, thanks to Trump’s increasing control of the party and its electoral fortunes.

One worrisome forecast does appear to be increasingly probable, however. The conversations at our events and on our podcast suggest that thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum appear to be narrowing in on defining the threat from China as the new master narrative of American foreign policy. Call it great power competition or a “new Cold War” — the result is the same. As Sullivan put it, “There’s a striking consensus on a much darker, much harder line on China that is not just about the Trump administration… it’s pretty much across the Democratic Party as well.”

Given the bitterness and polarization in Washington, not to mention the depth of the Democrats’ opposition to Trump himself, the emerging consensus on China — across the domains of security, human rights, and international trade — is surprising. An optimist might suggest that enduring national interests are winning out over both intraparty and interparty squabbling. An inveterate optimist might even see the seeds of a new bipartisan grand strategy rooted in containing China, fighting the spread of authoritarianism, and more nationalist trade policies.

From a more realistic perspective, however, the growing consensus on China is troubling. Having identified China as America’s biggest strategic challenge, neither party has identified a clear goal. Nor have they articulated how a new approach to China would provide a foundation for a broader vision of American foreign policy. Regardless of which camp triumphs, the risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy on China — through confrontation without purpose — is real. As both parties seek a new foil against which to frame American foreign policy, they may end up instead creating the incentives for further confrontation.

Emma Ashford is a research fellow in Defense and Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute. A. Trevor Thrall is associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and senior fellow in Defense and Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute.

McConnell hopes for ‘Christmas miracle’ to save government from another shutdown

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 08:40
A casual congressional observer may suspect that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gets a little sappy at Christmastime.

Dehumanization Nations

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 08:40

Matt Daniels and Doug Bandow

As media and political leaders increasingly embrace dehumanizing stereotypes of ideological opponents, America risks drifting down a dark path. Apologists for Antifa label as “fascist” those with opposing ideologies and politics, while others deride half of the American electorate as “Demoncrats.” Some may secretly cheer such insults. Doing so, however, starts our country down a well-trodden intellectual and emotional path embracing violence as an alternative to democratic values and fundamental rights.

One does not need to look into the past to find examples of what happens to divided societies. In the news recently are two nations that have institutionalized dehumanization and violence as social norms: China and Saudi Arabia.

The People’s Republic of China is officially secular, while Saudi Arabia is known as the Holy Kingdom, hosting Islam’s two holiest sites. Different in matters of theology, the regimes are similar in their disregard for human life, liberty, and dignity. Saudi Arabia dehumanizes women and dissidents; China punishes critics and subjugates its Uighur minority on a massive scale.

The language of dehumanization is beginning to creep into our collective consciousness — at both extremes of the political spectrum. This shoul

In its northwestern province of Xinjiang, the Chinese government has created concentration camps for its Uighur minority. These “re-education camps” are estimated to hold more than 1 million people. There have been numerous accounts online of their brutality. Consider some of the purchases made by those overseeing the camps: “2,768 police batons, 550 electric cattle prods, 1,367 pairs of handcuffs, and 2,792 cans of pepper spray.” China’s definition of “education” is certainly interesting.

Propaganda posted throughout Xinjiang treat Uighurs (generally practicing Muslims) as subhuman. Painted murals include a man using a broom to sweep a pile of tiny Uighurs off the street, a cement-roller flattening a group of Uighurs, and an axe being driven through a group of flailing Uighurs. In all of these murals, collected by the BBC, Uighurs are painted only in black, or as extremely small (or both). Images are said to speak a thousand words, and these posters communicate even more. Rather than directly telling its people that Uighurs are less than human, the Communist Party of China paints these sadistic images. The hope is to leave the message subliminally imprinted in the minds of those who view them.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has deservedly incurred the world’s wrath for the horrific torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Riyadh should face sanctions for this incomprehensible act of inhumanity. But the issue goes deeper: Does Saudi Arabia’s royal family see any of the kingdom’s inhabitants as fully human?

The regime has sustained a brutal campaign against Yemen, a war that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, and it has created a suffocating dictatorship that punishes any dissent. The government brutally killed and dismembered a dissenting journalist and refuses to afford women the basic human rights generally agreed upon by the rest of the world. It employs public stonings and other cruel modes of execution, considering these to be forms of public entertainment.

The language used both by Saudi Arabia and China when discussing people it views as “different” is demeaning. Both speak of people who have become “infected” by ideas deemed improper or dangerous. The language helps instill fear in the minds of the public, encouraging people to view government scapegoats as separate, different, threatening, and irredeemable. What is a so-called benevolent state to do, then, except quash threats posed by these “infected” people?

America is not there yet. However, the language of dehumanization is beginning to creep into our collective consciousness — at both extremes of the political spectrum. This should appall and shock us. But it appears that we are growing accustomed to it.

Both China and Saudi Arabia consider themselves exempt from global human rights standards. Their economic power causes much of the world to treat them as if they are exempt indeed. Perhaps America’s internal embrace of the rhetoric of dehumanization has reduced our outrage against those regimes. Even worse, this process risks encouraging similar destructive assaults on the dignity and rights of American citizens.

Matt Daniels, JD, Ph.D, is Chair of Law & Human Rights at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., and the creator of www.universalrights.com. Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. The views expressed are the authors’ own.

All I Want For Christmas Is a Government Shutdown

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 07:55
In this case, as in so many others, granite resolve is the path to victory.

Chicago candidate, 19, says Democratic Party machine falsified signatures to kick him off ballot

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 06:13
Allegations of election fraud are flying in Chicago's 13th Ward, where a 19-year-old student running for alderman accuses the city's Democratic Party machine of using dirty tricks in a bid to remove his name from the ballot.

Sarah Sanders slams press corps, calls Trump a 'fighter' who treats female, male journalists equally

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 04:36
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday defended President Trump's often combative style with the press, saying the president is a “fighter” who “hits back” at unfair criticism. 

Socialism: Freedom or Slavery?

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 04:04
This is What Our Children Are Learning?

Flynn says FBI pushed him not to have lawyer present during interview

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 04:03
In a bombshell court filing Tuesday, attorneys for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn alleged that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe pushed Flynn not to have an attorney present during the questioning that ultimately led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities.

Fantasy land: Trump's not resigning and Beto is still a long shot

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 03:30
Too many people have convinced themselves of the outcomes they want to see. And the phenomenon cuts across political and cultural lines.

Migrant group demands Trump either let them in or pay them each $50G to turn around: report

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 01:25
Two groups of Central American migrants marched to the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana on Tuesday with a list of demands, with one delivering an ultimatum to the Trump administration: either let them in the United States pay them $50,000 each to go home.


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