On Wednesday, Amnesty International (AI) issued their annual “International Report” on the state of human rights. It even included a message from AI Secretary General Irene Khan titled, “Why human rights matter.” Her message was apparently aimed the large contingent of the literate population that remains skeptical of the idea that humans should have rights.

Evidently, many of those skeptics are employed by AI itself. Either that, or no one representing the organization has any clue about what the word right means.

How can one have a right to “food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services,” as AI claims? Or a right to “protection against unemployment” and “holidays with pay,” and to free education? Those are entitlements, folks: not rights. In order to provide food, someone has to have the land upon which to grow it, and they have to invest the skill and energy required to do so. The product is theirs by right and no one else is entitled to it, no matter how many times Amnesty International uses the “r” word.

On the flip-side, Irene Khan doesn’t even seem to notice when legitimate rights are protected.

In her message, Kahn castigated the United States for purporting “to fight the war in Iraq to protect human rights — but openly [eroding] human rights to win the ‘war on terror.'” While no one would deny that there have been instances of human rights violations for which perpetrators ought to be brought to justice, America’s presence in Iraq has clearly been a victory for human rights. Thousands of Iraqis (and perhaps others) are free from the appalling assault on rights characteristic of Hussein’s regime. He was, after all, a murderous dictator.

This may leave some wondering, “would it hurt Amnesty International’s political agenda too much to include a simple ‘thank you’ to America?”

Sadly, yes.

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Carter Laren

Carter is a part-time free-lance writer and Producer Advocate. He is also a former editor and contributing writer at Capitalism Magazine, where he primarily focused on self-defense and national-defense issues. While at the University of Pittsburgh, Carter was a regular columnist for The Pitt News. In his spare time, Carter instructs both law enforcement and fellow citizens in the defensive use of firearms and is a student of the martial arts.

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