Here’s a curious story: the United States State Department has cited the federal government’s lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law in a “required report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council as one of the 100 steps the federal government has taken to uphold human and civil rights in the United States. Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, has reacted to this news with studied outrage.
There are lots of weird facets to this news item. For example, why is the United States “required” to file a report about its internal affairs with the United Nations Human Rights Council? (If we didn’t file the report, would the Council “flunk” us?) Why should we be reporting to a Council that includes such noted freedom-loving countries as Cuba, Libya, China, and Saudi Arabia (among other countries where citizens enjoy fewer freedoms than are found in the U.S.A.)? Moreover, do we really think that bringing a lawsuit that sought to enjoin the Arizona law before its enforcement was even attempted by police officers was really an important step in upholding human and civil rights?
The clear impression is that the State Department is pandering to an international community that is desperate to conclude that the United States is filled with angry xenophobes whose hate-filled bigotry is only barely being held in check through legal steps taken by our federal government. The reaction of the Arizona Governor reported in the story linked above seems overdone, but it does rankle to think that our own national government is suggesting that one of our states needs to be restrained from violating human rights — and then is broadcasting that suggestion to repressive governments who don’t afford their citizens even the most basic freedoms provided by our Bill of Rights.