Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Amnesty AWOL

[from the Monk]

Anne Applebaum, WaPo columnist and author of the book Gulag, a history of the Soviet forced-labor camp system, takes issue with Amnesty International's hyperbolic nonsense today:

Amnesty . . . once knew the meaning of the word "gulag." Amnesty also once knew the importance of political neutrality. On its Web site, the organization still describes itself as "independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion." In the Cold War era, this neutrality was important, since it prevented the organization's publications, whether on prison food or prison deaths, from being seen as propaganda for one side or another.
I don't know when Amnesty ceased to be politically neutral or at what point its leaders' views morphed into ordinary anti-Americanism. But surely Amnesty's recent misuse of the word "gulag" marks some kind of turning point.

* * *
Amnesty, by misusing language, by discarding its former neutrality, and by handing the administration an easy way to brush off "ridiculous" accusations, also deprives itself of what should be its best ally. The United States, as the world's largest and most powerful democracy, remains, for all its flaws, the world's best hope for the promotion of human rights. If Amnesty still believes in its stated mission, its leaders should push American democratic institutions to influence U.S. policy for the good of the world, and not attack the American government for the satisfaction of their own political faction.

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