Saturday, June 06, 2009

President Obama and human rights

President Obama delivered in Cairo an excellent speech. He said to Muslims what was right to say to them, whatever the historical and doctrinal accuracy of it. He was at his best when he reminded that the possibility to say what one thinks, confidence in the rule of law fair administration of justice, transparency of a government that doesn't steal from people, and finally freedom to live as one chooses, are not only American ideas, but human rights.

All fine and dandy.

It is like to say that they are not based on religion but on natural law. But, did anybody ever inform him that also not killing unborn babies is so based? If he, or someone for him, replies that it is not so, being the full human nature of such babies a question of religious belief, I could easily retort: so it is also for not killing born babies, or for that matter grown people who do not belong to the in-group of true men.

Cultural anthropology should teach us this much: that we cannot assign to human rights what we want, according to our ideas and conveniences. Does this mean that we cannot appeal to natural law? No, we can do it. But we need to know how to do it.

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