At every point in any major struggle, there needs to be time to stop, reflect, and evaluate the effectiveness of our strategy. Today, we see a consistent indifference of public opinion on anti-freedom ideologies, while at the same time America is in the midst of political change. We also see the growing influence of anti-freedom ideologies in their global attack on the human rights of equality and liberty. These factors should lead us to stop, reflect, and evaluate the effectiveness of our current approach to challenging anti-freedom ideologies.
The challenge to anti-freedom ideologies has been dramatically impacted over the past seven years by the development of a political-based model in challenging extremism. In recent times, this political approach has been a reaction to the nature of how the extremist threat was presented to the American people (the 9/11 attacks) as well as a failure to achieve commitment from bipartisan political leaders and traditional human rights groups in challenging the anti-freedom ideology of extremism. We must ask ourselves if recent history demonstrates that a political approach to challenging anti-freedom ideologies lacks the effectiveness and consistent credibility necessary for a sustained effort.
The limitations of a political approach to challenging anti-freedom ideologies are not just limited to challenging extremism, but are also limited in challenging Communist totalitarianism and many other anti-freedom ideologies. Such limitations are inherent in the nature of political organizations’ priorities of popularity and compromise over credibility and consistency. This does not “blame” political approaches for their limitations, but recognizes what they are and are not. We cannot simply wish that political movements were human rights movements; they are and will continue to be different. Therefore, we must revisit the need for a consistent human rights infrastructure that challenges all anti-freedom ideologies based on our commitment to the universal, inalienable human rights of equality and liberty.
We must recognize that human rights and political approaches to such issues have very different priorities, focus, and goals.
In a human rights-centric defiance of anti-freedom ideologies, we believe that all men and women are entitled to equality and liberty as part of their universal human rights. Uncompromising human rights-based thinking on equality and liberty justifies challenging both extremist Iran’s position on equality and liberty as well as Communist China’s position on equality and liberty. A human rights-centric position must not allow the flexibility to “tolerate” extremism, but to defy Communist totalitarianism, or vice versa. Consistency and credibility matters.
Politics is based on something altogether different. Politics is based on compromise to develop effective consensus on finite issues, on situational coalitions, and on situational responses to perceived problems. In politics, there is no consistent “right” or “wrong” on issues of equality and liberty over time, there is only what is necessary for that tactical activity, that campaign, that initiative. Popularity and tactical achievements matter.
While we certainly will need to continue to have political groups challenging anti-freedom ideologies, we must more clearly decide whether our priorities should be with a political-centric approach or a human rights-based approach. This requires that we step back and examine both approaches and goals. Certainly, there is a role and function of political groups in challenging anti-freedom ideologies, including lobbying our representatives. But we need to determine which approach should be our priority moving forward as most effective in challenging anti-freedom ideologies. Moreover, we must ask ourselves: are those championing human rights influencing political groups or are political groups influencing how we promote human rights issues?
Those who defy anti-freedom ideologies derived from institutionalized hate must ask ourselves if a political-centric approach is being productive in such struggles, or whether we need to refocus our strategy to employ a human rights-centric approach. We must ask ourselves why we struggle against anti-freedom ideologies in the first place. Is our struggle against anti-freedom ideologies primarily based on our love and compassion for our fellow human beings? Does our struggle recognize the truth of universal human rights of equality and liberty? If so, will political organizations and coalitions with situational agendas consistently understand a human rights effort based on compassion? Or will political-centric approaches to defying anti-freedom ideologies ultimately fall victim to the endless compromise, situational ethics, and situational credibility so prevalent in partisan political movements? And will political-centric approaches invariably alienate a large segment of the already indifferent population from even listening to the legitimate human rights challenges posed by such anti-freedom ideologies?
To address this subject, I have prepared this white paper as a starting point to begin this vital discussion, which addresses the following topics:
4. The Limitations of a Political-Centric Approach to Challenging Extremism
4.1. The Ideological Trap of Political Partisanship on Extremism
4.2. The Credibility Gap of Political Groups on the Human Rights Challenge of Extremism
4.3. How Political Approaches to Defying Islamic Supremacism Readily Undermine the Human Rights Challenge
4.4. Tearing Down the Partisan Wall for a Bipartisan Human Rights Challenge to Extremism
4.5. The Arguments of Those Disagreeing with the Need for a Human Rights-Centric Focus on Extremism
4.6. Are You A Human Rights Activist?
This white paper will be followed by an “executive summary” format that summarizes these issues. This white paper serves as both an analysis and a “lessons learned” on where political-centric challenges to anti-freedom ideologies have not consistently worked. It shows the distinctions between political and human rights movements, and it addresses the priorities of each. It also points out the failures of some traditional human rights groups in not challenging Islamic supremacism; these failures do not force us to reject creating our own human rights movement to take on this and other anti-freedom ideologies as well to provide a credible outreach on such topics to a wider audience.
In addition, this “lessons learned” white paper will also be critical of the credibility challenges that a continued political-centric approach poses in challenging anti-freedom ideologies based on a human rights commitment to equality and liberty. Political-centric groups may accommodate political diversity to increase popularity – as long as it remains within that political end of the spectrum. This popularity problem is not what we need to solve for consistent credibility. The problem we need to address is how those leading a human rights movement in challenging anti-freedom ideologies will be consistent on the human rights of equality and liberty, when impacted by strong political movements that may or may not have consistent views on human rights.
To make this to be a meaningful argument, I have provided some concrete examples of such credibility challenges, which I found painful to do. But I believe we need to think about these challenges, and I don’t believe that just addressing these challenges from a theoretical perspective will be enough. A political approach is free-wheeling in how it can and will address freedoms and other individuals; political approaches may even believe they have the freedom to demonize some identity groups. Political activities are focused on building popularity, not credibility. In providing such concrete examples, my point is not to challenge political groups’ freedom of expression, but to graphically demonstrate how different such political expressions can be from a human rights mission of mercy.
A human rights approach is a mission of mercy. A mission of mercy to reach out to those suffering, oppressed, and murdered by the advocates of anti-freedom ideologies is something altogether different than the typical objectives of political activism. A human rights mission of mercy must have different standards, priorities, and ways of communication from a political approach to challenging such ideologies. Invariably, I will address the issue of a human rights challenge to anti-freedom ideologies and someone will ask what we “get out of” such an effort. Someone will eventually ask what’s in it for me? That provides the starkest comparison of the difference between a political and a human rights perspective. A human rights mission of mercy is not to gain benefits for ourselves. From the perspective of a political mission, that may not make any sense. That is how dramatically different the two approaches can be. Certainly, our defense of the universal human rights of equality and liberty is an existential defense of humanity’s most fundamental rights. As part of humanity, that defense is ultimately a self-defense of all of our rights as well. But that isn’t the only reason why a human rights challenge of anti-freedom ideologies continues. We pursue a human rights challenge against anti-freedom ideologies not because it is in our political interests or our self interests, but simply because it is the right thing to do. Our Declaration of Independence does not declare the truths of our human rights to be self-evident – only when it is in our political interests. Our commitment as a nation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not just when it is in our geo-political interests. As human beings, we must defy anti-freedom ideologies – simply – because anti-freedom ideologies defy our human rights as human beings. A human rights mission of mercy for freedom is unconditional; we do not have to gain political power, political popularity, and political influence. A human rights mission is not a political mission.
They have different priorities, which this “lessons learned” document attempts to illustrate. The real question to each of us is – what are our individual priorities? Perhaps you are a human rights activist now – and you don’t yet realize it.
“Lessons learned” documents are written to help us learn and grow; that is my hope with this effort. Such a learning process, including comments that eventually must provide examples of what isn’t working and why, will invariably upset some individuals. The predictable response to most “lessons learned” documents that challenge us to change is to reject such challenges as unnecessary. Most people don’t like change, and most don’t like challenging existing processes and practices. Calls for change can be uncomfortable and can be viewed as arrogant or offensive. But our larger commitment to the universal human rights of equality and liberty is more important than our discomfort towards and rejection of change. Our courage in defending freedom is greater than our typical stubbornness in rejecting the recognition that some efforts are not being effective for the long-term.
Most importantly, what we have learned over the past seven plus years since the 9/11 attacks is that there are an incredible number of brave, fearless, and determined individuals who will selflessly dedicate their lives to defending the freedom and liberty of others. The question before us today is how to use this courage and determination to effectively be responsible for equality and liberty going forward. It is that coalition of the brave and the determined that we must draw upon to reach out to our fellow citizens in a coalition of love for our fellow human beings — to develop a new, human rights-based approach to consistently defy anti-freedom ideologies.
1. Political Reaction to Anti-Freedom Outrages Does Not Constitute a Human Rights Movement
Political organizations and politicians primarily exist to further the cause of their candidates, not to promote human rights issues. You may wonder what the predominant political views are today of major political parties on such as anti-freedom ideologies opposed to equality and liberty such as: Communist totalitarianism, racial supremacism, Aryan Nazi supremacism. That’s an easy answer – “indifference.” This is not a malicious “indifference;” it is simply that political parties have many other immediate issues that are the concerns of their constituents and political leaders. What functions do such political parties serve? Typically, their primary role is to provide platforms on broad and diverse agenda of many subjects to appeal to a vast public audience, based on popular concerns. So you will see political platforms concerned about issues like the economy, health care, business, and issues that voters believe affect them now in direct and tangible ways. Politicians are also typically focused on such “local” or “constituent” issues, because these are the primary daily interests of the majority of their constituents. If they don’t focus on such issues, politicians will not get re-elected and will lose their position as representatives. Partisan political organizations are not human rights organizations.
In fact, it is only after there has been a well publicized and significant act of outrage by such anti-freedom ideologies that some political representatives then react. It took many such acts of outrage in the United States by racial supremacists in the 1960s to finally get politicians to take some action; these acts of outrage included white supremacist terrorists blowing up black churches, and police beating black protestors. It wasn’t until such offenses against human rights were then captured on national television and broadcast around the country that political leaders finally chose to recognize and react to the grim situation that existed for black American human rights. But don’t think for a minute that white supremacist actions against black Americans in the 1960s were challenged merely because of such political reaction. In fact, the complete opposite was true. It was primarily because of the tireless devotion of the grassroots human rights movements and average citizens that white supremacism became fully understood as a national issue that we needed to act on. The political actions in engaging federal law enforcement, and developing new Civil Rights laws were a reaction to both the anti-freedom outrages of white supremacism, but they were primarily based on the leadership of the human rights movements that continued to make this a popular concern, and thus, a national priority to our politicians.
Long before (and long after) there was the need for political reaction (due to national security concerns) about Nazism and Communist totalitarianism, there were tireless human rights individuals striving against such ideologies and their appeasers. This is true even today when most of the political world no longer recognizes either as a threat. Most political concerns regarding Communist totalitarianism in North Korea are about its nuclear weapon goals, not about its concentration camps, the 3 million North Koreans that have died, or the way it treats human beings like animals. Most political concerns regarding Communist totalitarianism in China are about its impact on the world economy, not about its 1,000 forced labor concentration camps, the 1 billion under its totalitarian grip, and its forced abortions. Even regarding the resurgence of Nazism, the political concerns are mostly focused on whether Nazis could pose a lone-wolf terrorist threat, not about Nazism’s degrading hate toward humanity and impact on our children’s values. Certainly there are some individual politicians who do care about these non-national security type issues of human rights, and there are brave lawmakers seeking to do something about them. But political reaction – by definition – is not designed for long term, sustained commitment to defending human rights issues against anti-freedom ideologies; it is only to react to such issues, among many others, when they become popular concerns.
After 9/11, once again, we had a political reaction to another anti-freedom ideology, but in this case the national security concern was a direct attack on the United States homeland. This was a new challenge for many Americans to consider, and it was exacerbated by the lack of a human rights movement that had already clearly identified the ideology of extremism. There were journalists that had investigated extremist terrorist networks, there were foreign policy and counterterror professionals, and there were various scholars who had diverse opinions on the subject. But what we didn’t have was a human rights movement challenging the ideology of extremism itself. Moreover, in the tactical rush to “do something,” the political reaction failed to identify the threatening ideology. Outside of the (largely ignored) notes in the 9/11 Commission Report defining an “anti-democratic” ideology of “Islamism,” this failure by political governmental leaders to officially identify the threatening ideology as other than the meaningless term “extremism” remains today – many years later.
As a result, two things happened. First, the reactions taken by the U.S. government became strictly driven by a diverse set of tactical and geopolitical measures that were disconnected from any holistic or shared view of an ideology of extremism. This political reaction always gave the popular appearance of “doing something,” without the potentially unpopular consequences of actually defining a threatening ideology. Second, as soon as the perceived level of threat to the U.S. homeland lowered, the forces of political polarization took over the debate on such tactical measures and made the “war on terrorism” into an ongoing, partisan political shouting match that drowned out any potentially useful human rights-based national dialogue on extremism. At the same time, there was a failure of some traditional human rights groups to recognize Islamic supremacism as a true challenge for human rights organizations to champion. This failure was accentuated by the inability and lack of interest in effectively challenging traditional human rights groups to take a position on extremism consistent with their opposition to other anti-freedom movements.
The result was a political-centric coalition of individuals, political groups, and some politicians who had a shared concern about Violent Extemism, but not necessarily an agreed upon definition of Islamic supremacism. Without a non-partisan, human rights-centric group challenging extremism, those politicians engaged in dialogue on this issue were perceived to be fighting a partisan political cause, and the public was repeatedly taught by the media (and years of seeing this partisan split) that your view on whether or not a threat of Islamic supremacism even existed was largely a political partisan issue. This perception became a reality for many. As a result, we ended up with (perceived or real) political-centric groups and movements against Violent Extemism, but without a consistent, non-partisan, human-rights centric movement on extremism. However, the challenge is that political groups and political reaction to anti-freedom ideologies such as extremism do not constitute a human rights movement.
We must revisit the decision to ignore a human rights perspective on challenging extremism, simply because some traditional human rights groups have not taken a stand on extremism as an anti-freedom ideology. Instead, I believe that we must blaze a new human rights trail in the defense of equality and liberty on this issue, consistent with challenging other anti-freedom ideologies.
Unlike human rights movements challenging other anti-freedom ideologies such as Communism totalitarianism, Nazism, and racial supremacism, a consistent, credible, and national human rights movement infrastructure to challenge extremism does not yet exist. We must decide how to move towards creating a more credible and inclusive human rights approach to extremism that will be sustainable as the influence and credibility of political-centric coalitions inevitably wane. We must assume the responsibility to develop a sustainable human rights movement challenging anti-freedom ideologies, including, but not limited to extremism, so that we have a consistent and credible basis to defy those who would deny our universal human rights of equality and liberty.
2. Human Rights Movements Can Credibly Define Anti-Freedom Movements
Just because some traditional human rights groups have failed to be responsible for challenging extremism as an anti-freedom movement, we must not abandon pursuing a human rights approach of our own to challenge this and other anti-freedom ideologies. Human rights movements can provide a means for consistent and credible definition of anti-freedom movements in a way that political movements cannot.
Can you imagine being unable to even define Communist totalitarianism or Nazism in public as a threat to freedom?
In fact, we had precisely such a problem right here in America, because it was unpopular to talk about an anti-freedom ideology that we needed to confront together as a nation. There were a lot of different names used to talk about supporters of this anti-freedom ideology; many of these names were designed to avoid stigma or unpopularity to this ideology’s supporters. They focused on names about the events or the actions that were being taken. There was plenty of dancing around naming this unpopular anti-freedom movement. But eventually, the influence of a sustained human rights movement resulted in defining this anti-freedom ideology as it exists today.
While many sought to talk about “segregationists,” “Jim Crow” supporters, and southern “neo-confederates,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the human rights movement brought the American public’s imagination to focus on the term “white supremacy” as a challenge that it needed to confront in its commitment to human rights. Human rights groups had the credibility to define an ideology that challenged its adherents to accept human rights, while not attacking every single member of an identity group.
Human rights movements provide this invaluable ability both to credibly define and to consistently challenge anti-freedom ideologies when it is unpopular to do so, and when political organizations lack the credibility and consistency to do so. Imagine what type of effectiveness this would have if the challenge to “white supremacy” came not from a human rights movement dedicated to universal human rights of equality and liberty, but rather from groups linked or perceived to be linked to partisan political movements. Further imagine the damage to the effectiveness if some political coalitions were linked to groups that had credibility problems on human rights of their own.
In fact, challenging “white supremacy” in a sea of political indifference was not a very popular cause in many cases. Daring to challenge white supremacism was literally a death sentence for some black Americans, and many black Americans suffered (and continue to do so in today in some areas) for daring to defy this anti-freedom ideology. Black Americans viewed as sympathetic to those challenging white supremacism faced even further discrimination in their jobs and even by some governments. Black American protestors faced the most brutal treatment at the hands by some of those who were responsible for upholding the law. Many white Americans who challenged white supremacism were (and continue to be in dark spots of our country) viewed as traitors to their race. Some white Americans were killed (and continue to be killed today) for their willingness to defy white supremacists. Furthermore, others challenging white supremacism were (and continue to be) libeled as supporters of other supremacist groups because of their willingness to challenge white supremacism, with claims like “you must be a supporter of the Black Panthers then.” On top of all of these challenges and hurdles, then imagine too what it would be like to further burden such supporters of unpopular human rights causes with the view that they were driven by political partisan goals.
I was always a supporter of the human rights movement against white and racial supremacism, and I still am today. While I know that there were places where some viewed challenging racial supremacism as a partisan issue, I never for one moment considered the battle against white and racial supremacism as something that belonged exclusively to either Republicans or Democrats. It is like trying to associate those who would challenge racial supremacism with what color shirt they wore or what brand of automobile they drove. It simply doesn’t make sense. When as a very young man, I publicly challenged South African political officials over the white supremacist ideology of apartheid, I never once thought of it really as a “political” issue – I always viewed it as human rights issue. When someone put a brick through my automobile window when I had a bumper sticker on my car for a black candidate for high office, I never thought for a second – oh a partisan of this or that party did this. When I recently spoke to the public on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on April 4, 2009, and people I never met before prayed with me in public to help ease the burden of hate from those who still accept racial supremacism, not a single one asked or cared about what political party I was a member of, nor did I ask any of them.
After all, who cares? What difference should it make?
Political groups and organizations will sometimes provide a valuable accessory role to the engine of human rights that drives the cause of equality and liberty. We can and we must be grateful for such support to aid human rights causes for freedom. But for long term sustainability of any human rights movement, we must recognize the difference between being aided and being defined by such political movements. We can’t play politics with equality and liberty.
Some issues are and must be larger than any near-term political coalitions and partners. Some issues are so important to the fundamental cause of human freedom, equality, and liberty that without a consistent, credible, and growing human rights movement to sustain these issues, we have not even begun to fight.
3. The Political Abandonment of Human Rights by “Mainstreaming” Communist Totalitarian China
A dramatic lesson on the ineffectiveness of political approaches to challenging anti-freedom ideologies can be seen by looking at the failures to address the human rights catastrophe of Communist China. The failure of political organizations to effectively address the anti-freedom issues in Communist China should serve as a warning to those who are pursuing a political-centric approach to challenging extremism today. Where we have seen the political abandonment of human rights by the “mainstreaming” of Communist totalitarian China, so we will also see the political abandonment of human rights by the “mainstreaming” of extremism. The difference is that at least the opponents of Communist totalitarianism in China have had a human rights movement and infrastructure to fall back upon to ensure the sustainability of a movement to challenge such anti-freedom ideologies, whereas today the opponents of extremism do not.
The continuing threat of Communist totalitarianism is an issue that is larger than any political party or any political initiative. It has been and continues to be one of the greatest human rights crises of our time. Yet we find most political organizations and most of the public largely indifferent to Communism’s continuing crimes against humanity, whether it is the 3 million dead in North Korea or its brutal concentration camps, or the 1 billion under Communist China’s totalitarian grip and the untold suffering in the over 1,000 Communist Chinese forced labor camps. How will future generations look back in abject horror at the political abandonment of those suffering under Communist totalitarianism? How will future generations judge those whose political objectives for their constituents allowed them to believe that they could abandon the human rights of 1 BILLION human beings?
If not for the heroic efforts of a handful of human rights groups challenging Communist totalitarian China, such as the Laogai Research Foundation, China Aid, and Amnesty International, organized human rights defiance to Communist China’s totalitarianism would barely exist. The bedrock infrastructure of challenging anti-freedom ideologies such as Communist totalitarianism is not a politically-centric approach – it is a consistent, credible, and compassionate commitment to human rights.
To those who believe that we can challenge anti-freedom ideologies primarily with political coalitions, I ask you – how is this working with the billion suffering under Communist totalitarianism? Is the freedom of a billion human beings a Democratic or a Republican issue? Which political party challenges 1,000 forced labor concentration camps in Communist China? Which political organization makes its priority to end forced abortions and the abuses of Communist totalitarianism against life itself? The answer is a painful and shameful examination of the failure of our political organizations. Political denial, inconsistency, and expediency have allowed the human rights threat to a billion fellow human beings to vanish into a political black hole, with many Congressional representatives only concerned about what business opportunities that Communist China could bring to their districts.
In the continuing Communist totalitarian threat to universal human rights, the political approach to human rights in Communist China has been inconsistent at best, resulting in political “mainstreaming” of Communist totalitarian China by media and political figures. There are some on the “left” who have great trouble being critical of Communist totalitarian China and have had that problem for years. Certainly any reasonable definition of “liberal” politics should include an uncompromising moral position against totalitarianism. But addressing the Communist China totalitarian abuses has not been popular with many in the left-leaning press over the past 20 years since the Tiananmen Square massacres of freedom fighters on June 3 and 4, 1989.
A while back, I received a copy of the Washington Post with a large color glossy insert promoting travel and business in the so-called “People’s Republic of China.” The so-called “liberal” Washington Post has not been a strong challenger of Communist China’s totalitarianism; this history has included former Washington Post editor Philip Bennett asking the Communist People’s Daily a rhetorical question “How do you define democracy?” – as if there was a relativistic answer that would legitimize Communist China’s totalitarian government. In August 2008, the New York Times’ Tom Friedman leveled criticism at America for challenging (albeit ineffectively) Islamic supremacism over the past 7 years, while defending Communist China’s building of its “infrastructure” over the past 7 years, stating “I never want to tell my girls… that they have to go to China to see the future.” Only if the future, Mr. Friedman, represents building over 1,000 totalitarian labor concentration camps in every nation, like Communist China has; this is a part of China’s Communist “infrastructure” that Mr. Friedman doesn’t feel is important enough to write about.
Both the New York Times’ Tom Friedman and representatives from the Washington Post were scheduled to appear at a May 5, 2009 cocktail reception at the Communist Chinese embassy in Washington DC as “opinion leaders.” Mr. Friedman was a big fan of the Communist China-hosted 2008 Summer Olympics as was the NBC television network. From what I can see on NBC’s website on this (no I didn’t watch it), there does not seem to have been much information shared by NBC with the public about what Communist totalitarianism means in China today. NBC does mention Tiananmen Square once: “At 1,000 acres, Tiananmen Square in Beijing is the world’s largest public square – the size as 75 football fields.”
The inconsistencies over Communist totalitarian China is not an issue limited to a left-leaning political approach. In the past, the “conservative” American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank has had articles referencing a “memorial to the victims of Communism,” and sells a book called “The Poverty of Communism,” but when it comes to Communist totalitarian China, AEI writer Arthur Waldron has sought to describe “China after Communism.” How many in Communist totalitarian China’s labor camps are aware of “China’s transition from communism” as AEI’s Arthur Waldron has described it? This is the same AEI whose Norman Ornstein was also scheduled to appear at the May 5, 2009 cocktail reception at the Communist Chinese embassy in Washington DC.
Please note that I wrote Mr. Ornstein, Mr. Friedman, and other “opinion leaders” scheduled for the May 5, 2009 Communist Chinese Embassy cocktail reception to give them an opportunity to defend or deny this. I did not receive a single reply. I also directly called the Washington DC offices of Congressman Rick Larsen (D) and Congressman Mark Kirk (R) to get a confirmation on their status as scheduled “opinion leaders” at the May 5 Communist Chinese embassy cocktail party. I also did not get a single reply.
The strange bedfellows of the left, the right, the media, think tanks, etc., that are all willing to perpetuate the “big lie” about a “mainstream” China that remains a Communist totalitarian state represents how sadly a political approach to human rights can fail. The failure of any consistent or coherent political approach regarding Communist China’s totalitarianism graphically demonstrates what happens when we forget to show how much we care about our fellow human beings whose human rights are being violated.
This is the future of political-centric approaches to anti-freedom ideologies, and this travesty of history should be a stark warning to those who believe that political-centric approaches can succeed without credible human rights institutions leading the way. How do we give hope to those oppressed by Communist totalitarian ideologies with political foreign policy directions that focus on weapons or economic issues? What credibility does such stunning human callousness demonstrate when such political representatives are indicative of a people that believe in the human rights of equality and liberty?
At the end of the day, human rights institutions of compassion may be all that survive the endless waves of appeasement, resignation, and indifference that assault movements against such anti-freedom ideologies. When the political world has abandoned China’s 1 billion people, those human rights institutions continue to challenge Communist totalitarianism in China. Those human rights institutions continue to serve as the threads of credibility not just in our commitment to the human rights of equality and liberty, but also in our very decency as fellow human beings. If anyone ever needed a reason why to reject prioritizing a political-centric approach over a human rights-centric approach to anti-freedom ideologies – it could be summed up in one word: “China.”
The lessons of the failed political approach to challenging Communist totalitarianism in China are of vital importance in looking ahead to the political approach to challenging extremism today. Replace the appeasement of Communist Chinese totalitarian institutions with appeasement of extremist institutions and you can see the political path that is ahead of us. However, in the case of the challenge to Islamic supremacism, we don’t yet have a human rights centered infrastructure to keep the campaign for equality and liberty going, when a political approach no longer has sufficient adherents or political interest. To truly affect change, we need to reflect inwards, determine what is and isn’t working, and plan on how to organize for the future.
We are losing in the ideological struggle against Islamic supremacism. We have been losing for years. This isn’t a revelation to even the most casual follower of national and world news. Losing isn’t always a bad thing. Losing helps you stop and assess your strategies, and losing helps you identify and evaluate your own weaknesses. Losing helps you understand yourself and your beliefs. (How many “lessons learned” meetings have you been to after winning a challenge?) Most importantly, losing helps you remember that no single loss or losses are infinite, and that all of us have choices as to the paths that we take in our lives. Any of us can lose any given challenge, but it is always our choice to decide whether or not we are beaten.
Some struggles are too important to ever give up. Some issues are too important to ever allow ourselves the luxury of accepting that we are beaten. But if we choose that we will not be beaten by the proponents of extremism and the massive indifference and appeasement towards that anti-freedom ideology today, then we must decide how we will change to more effectively challenge it. We can’t close our eyes to reality around us and expect that the same political-centric strategies that too many became too comfortable with will somehow turn things around. We can’t ignore the limitations to a political-centric approach to challenging Islamic supremacism.
After the 9/11 attacks that provided the wake up call to Americans on extremism, the resultant tactical focus without a well-defined enemy led to the debate over identifying an ideology such as Islamic supremacism becoming a contentious topic of polarized partisanship (where it remains today). The very idea that such an ideology as extremism even exists was labeled as a “right-wing” viewpoint. Those who viewed that there was a threat from extremist tactics of Violent Extemism were also labeled as “right-wing.” Imagine that someone who viewed that any other anti-freedom ideology today (racial supremacism, Nazism, Communist totalitarianism) was automatically a “right-wing” individual. But this has been the reality in America on extremism for years.
During all of this time, there has not been a credible and consistent human rights infrastructure challenging extremism to provide evidence that recognizing extremism is not a partisan political issue. Unlike those challenging anti-freedom ideologies of racial supremacism, Nazism, and Communism, there has been no human rights infrastructure to provide leadership and consistency. Unlike other unpopular struggles against anti-freedom ideologies like white supremacism, there has been no human rights organization to consistently keep the issue above partisan political interests. At the same time, there was a failure of some traditional human rights groups to recognize extremism as a true challenge for human rights organizations to champion. This failure was accentuated by the inability and lack of interest in effectively challenging traditional human rights groups to take a position on Islamic supremacism consistent with their opposition to other anti-freedom movements. As a result, we have had what has turned out to be an unpopular struggle against extremism further burdened by the perception that it is rooted in a partisan political-centric agenda.
Without a human rights organization to ground the argument against extremism, the debate over such an ideological threat has fallen into the trap of political partisanship, ensuring that a polarized political public would never gain a sufficient majority on this human rights issue. Without such a majority of public opinion, there has been no majority for political reaction to develop a strategy that recognizes this ideology and seeks to counter it effectively. The result has been an endless series of geopolitical tactics totally unrelated to any coherent definition of an ideological threat that are designed as political reactions by diverse political leaders to appear that they are “doing something” regarding American national security.
It must not be overlooked that this could not have happened without the decision by too many partisan Democratic leaders on the left to choose to ignore extremism. This was and continues to be a mistake of historic proportions, on a par with those who chose to ignore Nazism in 1939 or Communism in the 1960s. This stunning error remains the obligation of a generation of Democratic leaders to overcome. But the problem is that once America fell into the partisan political quicksand on the issue of Islamic supremacism, there has been no getting out, because we have not had a non-partisan human rights group to end the partisan shouting match and extend a hand to both sides to pull us out of the quicksand. Instead, the partisan shouting match of “bigot” versus “appeaser” has gone on and on for years, focusing our resources on dragging each other down, and frightening away any of the uncommitted public that might stop its indifference for a moment on the subject to listen to the “debate.” Another factor that must be understood is that this political polarization on extremism has become self-reinforcing. In my own research on Congressional bills on Violent Extemism and impact on elections, I discovered that the few Democrats who challenged their party’s position on such issues and joined the Republicans on such bills, ended up not getting re-elected. For too many Democrats, it has not been politically healthy for them to challenge Islamic supremacism.
It also must not be overlooked that this trap also depended on the choice by too many partisan Republican leaders to demonize their political opponents on this subject, while not effectively policing their own camps. Moreover, the uncritical willingness to tie incomplete and ever-changing variations on what essentially is the extremism ideology to every tactical decision, to every battlefield choice, to every national security issue was and continues to be a mistake of historic proportions as well. Giving political opponents endless ultimatums on either complete agreement or total disagreement on such linkages merely dug us into this partisan trap deeper and deeper, building walls of political partisanship on the issue of extremism that will take years to tear down. The same Republican political leaders represented by an executive branch for eight years and a majority of the legislative branch for many years — that never ended up (in all those years) officially defining the ideology of extremism as a threat (and a strategy to counter that threat) — are in no position to be self-righteous today. America has spent six years of fractious debate over tactics in the Iraq theater of war – while not focusing on clearly and officially defining an enemy, without an official recognition of the anti-freedom ideology of extremism, and without a strategy to address that anti-freedom ideology – while the multi-dimensional, global threat of extremism has continued to grow. We have seen nearly endless political resources and debate over tactics, but minimal political resources on actually defining an anti-freedom ideology and a strategy to challenge it.
Unfortunately, the partisan political trap and resultant miscues were entirely predictable. Partisan political organizations are not human rights organizations. They do not offer an unbiased view of such threats to equality and liberty. They are not designed to foster bipartisan action and agreement. They are not designed to make the other political side look good and win them votes. They are not intended to be uncompromising leaders on human rights issues of equality and liberty challenged by anti-freedom ideologies. Their focus is and continues to be predominantly on addressing day-to-day routine constituent issues, while occasionally dealing with such global issues mostly on a short-term, tactical perspective – and most important of all – getting re-elected. That is what political life is all about.
However, it is this political-centric view of the world that has ended up defining the majority of the groups challenging Islamic supremacism over time. The inaccurate perception that defying extremism is a de-facto “right-wing” or “conservative” perspective has been reinforced by political leaders shouting matches, by the polarized mainstream media, and by some politically linked groups themselves. Moreover, this has also resulted in those registered Democrats who have been involved groups challenging Islamic supremacism failing to publicize their identity as Democrats for two reasons: (1) fellow Democrats would deny that they are “real Democrats,” and (2) “conservatives” might then question their loyalty. There are registered Democrats that are nationally known figures in the “anti-Violent Extemism” movement that is perceived to be “right-wing” and “conservative.”
But even within the “conservative” political segments that recognize the threat of Violent Extemism, there are splits in defining what is essentially extremism. There have also been the inevitable splits in this political community resulting in some segments that accept isolationism, some segments that will tolerate political “Islamism,” and some segments that are willing to engage “Islamists” for perceived national security tactics. As a result, even factions within the “conservative” political community challenging extremism are not in agreement, and some legislators have been abandoning an uncompromising position on challenging extremism.
As we have seen over the past several years, there has been a consistent push within official American federal government to position extremism as nothing more than the meaningless term of “extremism.” As a result, we have had a series of bipartisan government lexicons of denial in both the Bush and Obama administrations that focus on a series of euphemisms intended to do anything but recognize an ideology of extremism. And the future shows nothing but more of the same.
We cannot underestimate the damage that this partisan political trap has done to undermine a concerted ability to effectively challenge extremism. In addition to the political partisan walls on this subject, what little infrastructure and organization the “anti-Violent Extemism” community has contains large components, resources, and funding linked to “conservative” or political partisan groups. As a nation, much of the donor investment has gone into such a political-centric approach, staff, and websites to challenge extremism. At the same time, an increasing number of the public has been supporting the Democratic Party.
In relative comparison, we currently have limited individuals and groups seriously committed to building a human rights-based, non-partisan approach to challenging extremism. But as history has shown, it is such a human rights-centric approach to challenging anti-freedom ideologies that is the foundation for any such movement. Instead, we have doors, walls, and windows of political groups with no uncompromising human rights foundation to rely on.
4.2. The Credibility Gap of Political Groups on the Human Rights Challenge of Extremism
We must not expect human rights behavior from non-human rights organizations. It is a totally unrealistic and illogical expectation. Human rights groups and political groups are simply not the same, and they won’t have the same credibility on human rights issues.
Political think tanks, partisan political blogs, political organizations, and other political groups make absolutely no pretension that they are “human rights groups” or even that their focus is on “human rights.” Political groups have completely different priorities, goals, agenda, tactics, and approaches to addressing issues than human rights groups. Political groups predominantly are seeking to advance a political argument on an issue or issues to promote their political objectives, partisan political party, political candidates, etc. Political groups’ objectives are situational to meet those political needs; they don’t intend necessarily to be “fair” or even “balanced;” they are fighting a competitive political battle to advance the power of that political group or agenda. Political groups may use “political outrage” comments to garner attention that many might reject or find objectionable. Political groups have diverse, competitive, sometimes controversial agendas that are designed often to be combative against a political opponent(s), or to promote a specific political agenda. Political groups are not human rights groups.
You wouldn’t hire a carpenter to do a plumber’s job. But in the effort to challenge extremism, this is essentially where we have ended up today. It’s not working in any consistent way. There may be successes from time to time, but a political-centric challenge to extremism is losing much more than it is winning, and it is losing the most on the credibility of the idea of challenging extremism itself.
The remaining “conservative” political movement against Islamic supremacism has several key stumbling blocks in political alliances that serve to frequently undermine the credibility of the argument challenging extremism. Like any political movements, these “conservative” political movements seek to draw from the widest possible membership to advance their political goals. The top priority of these (and other) political movements is to promote popularity; the top priority of human rights movements is to promote credibility. These very different priorities will cause a political-centric movement to eventually undermine the credibility of a human rights based argument.
Supporters of extremism clearly recognize this and they repeatedly seize on these disconnected priorities to undermine the argument of political-centric efforts to challenge them. It’s not hard. They identify political-centric opponents of extremism, find some comment or association that they have made, and they hold such political-centric groups and individuals responsible for not having a consistency on human rights issues. Some may say such tactics and comparisons aren’t fair. But these tactics work and they are going to continue to work, no matter who or what is leading a political-centric challenge to extremism. As long as we accept a political-centric focus on challenging extremism, such endless attacks on the credibility of political players will continue, because political groups have and will continue to have different priorities than human rights groups. Furthermore, as long as supporters of extremism can continue to leverage this endless credibility gap of political groups challenging Islamic supremacism, they will continue to undermine the credibility that there even is a human rights issue of equality and liberty in challenging extremism.
Such a credibility gap created by using political groups in a human rights challenge is not just a problem today; it is a vortex that will ultimately consume all of our energies, all of our resources, and all of our arguments. Every time any political group (even distantly) associated with the challenge on extremism offers some new outrageous comment on topics related or (as in most instances) totally unrelated to extremism, the supporters of Islamic supremacism will pounce on such comments to further undermine the credibility of those who see the human rights threat of Islamic supremacism.
Some believe that we should ignore this problem, and merely dismiss the national public relations machine of extremist supporters as not “credible.” They believe that even writing about this problem further aids the supporters of extremism. But this is inconsistent. We argue that the world must not be in denial on the human rights threat of extremism. We believe such denial on extremism to be an existential threat to equality and liberty. But challenging others on denial means that we also must also be responsible for challenging denial among ourselves. Continuing to be in denial about the ineffectiveness of using a political-centric approach to meet a human-rights based problem on extremism will not further our cause and does not do service to the importance of the human rights challenge.
In this section, I have provided some concrete examples of how political approaches to challenging extremism, by their different priorities and ways of communication, can undermine a human rights challenge to extremism. Political movements with political views on freedom and political forms of expressions are not human right movements. Certainly, they will be different. The problem is that, without a human rights movement to challenge extremism, the use of political approaches and groups only to fight this battle will ultimately lead to inconsistent credibility on the topic in general. To provide such examples, I am forced to have to address only “conservative” political groups, because they are the only ones that have had the courage to address this unpopular challenge to extremism. Such examples are not intended to be a “slam” on “conservative” political groups. For the most part, “conservative” political groups simply are the few that have had the courage to be relevant to be included in such discussions. The sickening silence of “liberal” political groups on extremism is a disgrace to human rights and to politics. Over time, our society must change this. But that means we have to bring the issue of extremism away from being viewed as a partisan political issue at all, and recognize it for the human rights issue that it really is.
Such credibility gaps are not the fault of political groups; political groups are performing their mission for their causes. They are not to blame for this credibility issue. The fault lies in the vacuum of a human rights movement to consistently challenge extremism as well as other anti-freedom ideologies to provide a consistent basis for credibility. Instead, we keep using just those political groups that happen to have the courage to speak out such issues, whether that is the right approach or not. We have allowed ourselves to believe that is the only choice we have. We need to use more imagination and vision to see that a human rights mission of mercy can and must be created as the primary source for challenging extremism in a credible and consistent way.
Thus far we have continued to expect political groups to do the work of human rights groups. This is unfair, unrealistic, and unproductive. Moreover, in using such political groups, we have failed to recognize that their political priorities, tone, and expressions will sometimes conflict with a human rights mission of mercy challenging extremism. The anti-illegal immigration movements and the “social conservative” movements are examples of two political areas with diverse membership, some of which may not be viewed as having political goals that would resonate with human rights goals. This is not to say that conservative political movements do not deserve the right and freedom to pursue their political goals; it is simply that the logic and the activists in some areas of some political movements may not be consistent with a human rights movements for freedom. Furthermore, it is imperative to always remember that in human rights struggles for equality and liberty, our support of freedom is for all, whether we agree or not with their positions.
The problem is that political movements seeking restrictions are invariably going to be inconsistent with human rights movements where one is challenging an anti-freedom ideology. This is especially the case when political movements have a focus on restricting some type of behavior, whether it is focused on illegal immigration, homosexual behavior, or any other political movements that are predominantly focused on restricting some type of activity. Frequently, we will find that there is a built-in conflict between the activists and focus of political movements seeking restrictions and human rights movements seeking freedom.
But our strongest argument, and least used argument (thus far), in challenging the ideology of extremism is that it is inherently against the universal human rights of equality and liberty. When political allies regarding a specific military campaign fall away, when political allies leveraging Americans’ natural fears about Islamic supremacist terrorism lose influence, and when other political arguments are undermined because they are made by non-human rights organizations and individuals — this human rights argument that extremism is inherently against the universal human rights of equality and liberty is the one argument that will continue to resonate with a diverse, bipartisan population. The human rights argument appeals to a wider, even international consensus of those individuals responsible for equality and liberty. This fundamental human rights argument against extremism is the same argument against other anti-freedom ideologies such as racial supremacism, Nazism, and Communist totalitarianism. Being responsible for equality and liberty requires challenging those totalitarian and supremacist ideologies that deny the universal human rights of equality and liberty to all of humanity.
We cannot continue to ignore the challenge of political groups in undermining this human rights argument necessary to effectively continue our struggle for freedom against extremism. It is not enough to try to stop losing; we have to also try to stop beating ourselves. This is not merely a theoretical problem, but a very real and immediate problem undermining the human rights argument against Islamic supremacism today. Can we afford these type of political distractions and undermining of our message in a human rights challenge against global extremism?
The “nativist” political movement challenging illegal immigration is broad and diverse. It has many types of members, with varying levels of knowledge, credibility, and backgrounds. Like all political movements, its priority is popularity. Like all political movements, it will have members, organizations, and think tanks that sometimes or often make outrageous comments that would conflict with the priorities of a human rights movement. After all, it is not a human rights movement. In the case of challenging extremism, however, those making comments that some would view as “outrageous” are going to provide ammunition to those who want the challenge to Islamic supremacism to go away. The result of some political groups undermining the credibility of a human rights challenge to Islamic supremacism is a continuing and real problem. Political movements are not concerned about human rights sensitivities – they do not and will not have the same priorities. This very real problem is a challenge for those concerned with challenging extremism today, as shown in the examples below.
“Nativist” Lawrence Auster maintains a web site called “View from the Right” or “VFR.” In February 2009, Mr. Auster attended a conference in Baltimore, Maryland called “Preserving Western Civilization,” reportedly modeled after similar conferences by the American Renaissance organization with some speakers that have also reportedly attended American Renaissance conferences. At the Baltimore conference, Mr. Auster gave a speech, “A Real Islam Policy for a Real America,” that called for “a Constitutional amendment that prohibits the practice of Islam in the United States.” “Nativist” Lawrence Auster is also greatly concerned about the racial dimensions to crime, focusing on “interracial rape,” On his blog postings, Mr. Auster has listed his supporters to include one individual who praises his work along with the American Renaissance and VDARE web sites for its support of “critical thinking.” The American Renaissance organization and VDARE are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. While Mr. Auster reportedly spoke at American Renaissance conference in 1994, he has also since reportedly been critical of the American Renaissance’s acceptance of David Duke and a representative of the StormFront neo-Nazi organization at its conferences. This same Mr. Auster seeks to influence NYC-based groups challenging extremism. This is a free country; Mr. Auster has a right to his political views. But what will the influence of a political “nativist” such as Lawrence Auster do to a human rights-based argument against extremism? Such “nativists” as Mr. Auster provide an endless series of propaganda arguments to Islamic supremacist supporters, and undermine human rights arguments in challenging extremism. Mr. Auster’s political goals are not to further human rights, but to protect “western civilization” as he defines it.
The “nativist” political reaction to seek to protect “western civilization” does not recognize that it actually undermines the strongest argument against extremism we have — that all men and women deserve the inalienable human rights of equality and liberty as part of their universal human rights. Such inalienable human rights are not “western” human rights, but inalienable, universal human rights of equality and liberty that all people deserve. We hold these truths to be self-evident. In addition to providing a never-ending supply of propaganda ammunition to supporters of extremism, some “nativist” political groups are not making this human rights argument. If anything, too many “nativist” political groups are seeking to actively undermine such a universal human rights argument against extremism, by implying that such liberties only apply to “western civilization.” They fail to grasp that this is the same argument that many Islamic supremacists are also making.
Moreover, some such political groups with an emphasis on “nativism” will prioritize popularity versus credibility (like most political groups). So when the Youth for Western Civilization was promoted by the American Renaissance organization, I contacted a leader of the Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) on this subject; the YWC has provided a detailed statement stating that it is a “multiracial” organization, and considers any links between itself and “white nationalists” to be “smears.” I have also been told that the YWC had no control over the American Renaissance’s promotion of its organization. But I have yet to see YWC denouncing the American Renaissance other than stating it is “irrelevant.” This would have been a very simple thing for any human rights group to do. In the case of the YWC, its focus is not on human rights, however, but only on “western civilization.” It is not a human rights organization. Unfortunately, the use of a political-centric approach to challenging what is actually a human rights threat of extremism allows supporters of extremism to hold political groups like YWC to human rights level standards on credibility. We can’t keep using carpenters to do a plumber’s work. It simply doesn’t make sense.
Another political group which has what I believe is a “nativist” focus is a conservative think tank called the “Society of Americans for National Existence” or SANE. Its blog, SANEWorks, addresses a wide variety of issues on topics including immigration, “national existence,” “affairs of war,” “science and certainty,” “the judiciary,” “journalism,” “white papers,” “Judeo-Christian,” and “Islam & Terrorism.” SANE does not and has not positioned itself to be anything other than a political think tank on a wide range of such topics, some of which include analysis of relatively obscure topics. The political think tank SANE does not position itself to be a human rights organization. The SANE political think tank has been a target of extremist supporters in the past because of one area of its focus on Sharia law, which has been researched by legal analyst David Yerushalmi. Some, including myself, had the misunderstanding that Mr. Yerushalmi’s focus was on such issues of Sharia law, and in the past I have quoted some of his analysis. I recently discovered that SANE and Mr. Yerushalmi also have other political writings challenging the use of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to defend universal human rights and political writings on racial issues; this is certainly the prerogative of free speech and press of the SANE political think tank. I will state for the record that David Yerushalmi has affirmatively stated to me that his writings on racial issues do not connote racial supremacism and that he rejects racial supremacism. But in a human rights challenge to extremism, we simply can’t afford to use our limited resources defending the views of political think tanks on such issues. This is not a theoretical argument. Not only could this happen, this is happening now. Furthermore, I want to take accountability and publicly apologize for my failure to thoroughly research Mr. Yerushalmi’s political writings prior to quoting him on Sharia issues regarding the human rights challenge of extremism. The challenge remains that such political positions can and will undermine a human rights argument, and because of that, such quotes have since been removed from my articles. I don’t blame Mr. Yerushalmi for this; I take responsibility for my own oversights. A human rights argument, however, must be consistent, and cannot afford to be undermined by such political arguments.
I have also failed to thoroughly research another individual who I have defended in the past as an individual challenging extremism, European politician Geert Wilders. This is not Mr. Wilders’ problem, who is acting as a politician for the Netherlands. It is a problem because of the lack of a human rights infrastructure to challenge extremism – a human rights infrastructure that will keep our arguments consistent with universal human rights. We can’t expect politicians or political groups to view this issue from a human rights perspective. In the past, I have defended Geert Wilders in his defiance of Islamic supremacism, but his recent speech in Florida a few weeks ago made me realize that I cannot agree with his European political positions on freedom when I am making an argument from a human rights perspective. A European politician such as Geert Wilders may believe that he can state that “the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam” and call for Europe to “stop the building of new mosques;” a European politician may also believe that he can call for banning books. A human rights argument challenging extremism based on our universal human rights can not accept this. A human rights movement can’t defend such views in any way. Geert Wilders and other politicians have a right to their point of view, whether I agree with it or not; that is part of the freedoms that we are fighting to defend. Moreover, European politicians may have a different historical perspective and tactical priorities than American politicians. Regardless, if our effort to challenge Islamic supremacism is based on our commitment to universal human rights, then we must not view the issue based on the recommendations and leadership of political leaders or tacticians, but must view the issue in a way that is consistent with a human rights perspective. Geert Wilders does not claim to be a human rights activist, to the best of my knowledge. He is and will continue to be a political leader. These simply are not and will not be the same thing, nor will they have the same type of priorities and objectives. Therefore, because of this I have deleted my previous article on Geert Wilders and I am publicly apologizing for not being aware of his political positions on these issues that would conflict with a human rights movement challenging extremism that is committed to defending freedom. Once again, this demonstrates this disconnect between using political movements and groups as part of a human rights movement. The human rights movement challenging Islamic supremacism must be greater than any one individual or any one political movement. Most of all, a human rights movement challenging extremism must be consistent in its support for equality and liberty, no matter how painful, how frustrating, and how alienating that support may be. A human rights movement must keep its focus on the true consensus of those responsible for equality and liberty.
Last month, I recognized yet another challenge in a political coalition defying extremism with “social conservative” political movements. I was writing on another subject regarding the growth of racial supremacist groups in America, and how a consistent message of love and support for equality and liberty was necessary to combat this growth. As a result, I received an email from a “social conservative” who was offended by my use of the list of hate groups provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in my article challenging racial supremacism. (Whether you agree with the SPLC listing or not, the fact remains that it is widely used in the media, the U.S. government, and American society. At a minimum, it warrants research and consideration.) This “social conservative” went on to defend several groups on that listing as being unfairly listed as “anti-gay hate groups.” The “anti-gay hate groups” represent 12 out of 926 groups on the list. To have an unbiased opinion, I did my own independent research on some of these groups. I found that groups being defended by this “social conservative” were promoting a Holocaust Revisionist document called “The Pink Swastika,” which essentially blames Nazism on homosexuals, ignoring that homosexuals were victims in the Holocaust. When I explained this to the “social conservative” who wrote me (who said she otherwise supported my writing on extremism), I was urged to make certain that I read “The Pink Swastika.” I also discovered that the political group Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) is also on the SPLC list of anti-gay hate groups; I also then did my own independent research and discovered that the TVC has publications linking homosexuality to Communism and publications titled “Homosexual Propaganda Campaign Based on Hitler’s ‘Big Lie’ Technique.” The TVC has been involved in political activism challenging Islamic supremacism in Northern Virginia. Prior to this additional research, I had mentioned the TVC in an article which I have since revised to remove such references and I apologize for not doing sufficient background research on the political views of this group. Once again, political groups provide this challenge of credibility when addressing human rights issues.
This human rights conflict with some political “social conservative” movements goes to the very heart of the issue of a political approach versus a human rights approach to challenging extremism.
A human rights approach to challenging extremism is a mission of mercy and compassion. Political groups have different priorities and different methods of expression. This provides evidence again of why we cannot use political groups to effectively challenge what is actually a human rights issue. Clearly, human rights groups can’t use such political groups to do so – not if they want to have any credibility. I don’t deny that political groups have the right to their freedom of expression and their right to have their political points of view; that is part of the freedoms that we are fighting to defend. But a mission of mercy has no place with Holocaust revisionism. A mission of mercy has no place in demonizing homosexuals as Communists and linking them to Hitler’s techniques. Political groups can and will do what they need to further their mission. But we cannot confuse the mission of political groups with the mission of mercy of human right groups. They are not the same.
How can we make a human rights argument that our mission of mercy defies an extremist ideology that believes that extremists have the right to murder homosexuals around the world, when our human rights message in challenging such supremacism is then undermined by such political coalition “social conservatives” that have a different mission? While political movements have the right to their freedom of expression, using such political groups to perform a human rights function will ultimately lead to credibility challenges in our human rights argument against extremism. This is not the fault or the blame of such political groups. This is the problem that happens when we use the wrong resource for the wrong job.
Political movements can afford situational alliances to promote popularity; human rights movements have responsibilities for defending human rights whose credibility cannot be compromised.
There are many other examples of the credibility issues created by a political centric movement challenging extremism. Almost all of them involve the same basic problem of individuals challenging extremism ending up linked with political groups with questionable and inconsistent views on human rights, including both political groups in the United States as well as in Europe. In a political coalition, the priority is to expand popularity. In a human rights movement, the priority is to defend credibility. These priorities are not and will not be the same. This is why we must fundamentally reconsider our approach.
In the preceding paragraphs, I have cited a few examples of this issue simply to provide a sense that there is a real credibility problem, not just a theoretical idea of a credibility problem, with a political-centric approach to challenging extremism. It is impossible to calculate the exact burden that such political groups impose on a human rights based argument on extremism, but it is not difficult to imagine how the supporters of extremism will continue to leverage this credibility gap to undermine our arguments. The use of political groups to fight a human rights challenge will continue to have us going around in circles on these types of issues.
It is certainly not pleasant to reflect on these credibility challenges, and I take no joy in pointing these out. But if we want to change, we must be willing to do serious introspection. If we want to build a lasting base in a human rights infrastructure to challenge extremism, we must be committed to consistency on universal human rights. This generational battle will require an infrastructure that can sustain this struggle over time. If we want to build a concrete foundation, we must have an unfettered argument and we must have a consistent firmness in our resolve on universal human rights.
One strength that a human rights movement has that many political movements do not have is that those in a human rights movement can and must admit to making mistakes. Political movements tend not to make any admissions of error; frequently they will rephrase, avoid, or ignore such errors. That is not a strength, but it is a weakness for any organization that seeks to have sustained efforts with credibility. I have spent a lot of time studying human right movements, and I have tried to learn from its leaders. One leader’s actions have taught me how to deal with my mistakes. In Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to a march for civil rights. It was to be a non-violent march. However, after he got there and was involved in the march, it turned violent and protestors started smashing windows and causing havoc. Dr. King decided to leave that march, and he subsequently denounced the actions of the group. Dr. King apologized for being associated with the violent march, even though he left it. Dr. King returned to the civil rights issue involved in Memphis, but he did it on his terms after thoroughly reviewing the participants. Dr. King had the freedom to recognize his mistakes, publicly admit them, apologize for them, and to disassociate himself from those who did not share his commitment to human rights. The ability to admit when we are wrong, as we will often be as human beings, is a fundamental strength of human rights organizations.
Speaking for myself, I will try to make fewer mistakes, but I am a fallible human being and I will no doubt make mistakes again. In working for human rights, the larger responsibility is to be accountable for them. We must consistently demonstrate that how much we care for our fellow human beings is more important than our own pride. It is this bond of humanity that is the basis for our struggles in defending human rights.
For all of the mistakes by myself and others who have challenged Islamic supremacism, there has been tremendous courage and self-sacrifice by many to take on an unpopular defiance against this anti-freedom ideology. Those who have had the courage to challenge Islamic supremacism deserve the thanks and the appreciation of this and future generations. Now we have to figure out a way to be more effective in challenging extremism. We must recognize that the first place to start is to end the partisan wall that defines a political approach to challenging extremism.
4.4. Tearing Down the Partisan Wall for a Bipartisan Human Rights Challenge to Extremism
The very existence of a partisan political wall in challenging extremism prevents our ability to be effective. In earlier paragraphs, I have summarized what I believe to be the overall history as to how such a partisan political wall came into existence. But we need to focus more on tearing this wall down than on constantly rehashing the history of how it was built.
On September 11, 2001, I stopped looking at the world as a political partisan. There are millions of others in America who also did the same thing. That is what we really must “never forget.” The division of America’s willingness to challenge extremism based on political partisan identification is something that we need to rise above, and something that we need to grow beyond.
Some conservatives and Republicans will respond to such a call to tear down the political partisan wall on the issue of challenging extremism by asking, “how are you going to get Democrats to do that?” It is a fair question. Building a political partisan wall over all these years on this subject is going to take time to dismantle. Some believe that another extremist terrorist attack is all that it will take to bring Americans “together” again. I don’t accept such a fatalistic view of our fellow Americans’ consciences, nor do I share their confidence that fear will work to unite Americans on human rights issues. Instead, I believe that we need to tear down the political partisan wall on the issue of challenging extremism – brick by brick, individual by individual. We need to do the protracted work to unite Americans on their shared commitment to the universal human rights of equality and liberty as a basis for challenging extremism as well as other anti-freedom ideologies.
So I will remove the first brick in this partisan wall today. In fact, I know that there are Democrats who share our human rights commitment to challenging extremism, because I am a registered Democrat, as I have been all of my adult life. For years, as I saw this partisan wall being built, I told fellow Democrats that they were taking the wrong course in history. My pleadings to be concerned about extremism were typically met with the scornful reply that my concerns proved that I was “not a real Democrat.” But despite such rejection and despite the years of ineffective leadership on this human rights issue, I have remained a Democrat. And I am not the only one.
So when you think there are not Democrats willing to challenge extremism, I can prove to you that is simply not true. Moreover, I was a Democratic Party activist, a precinct captain, a worker in numerous national Democratic political campaigns, and directly involved with several Democratic presidential campaigns, including one where I traveled throughout the northeast campaigning. Certainly, some members of the modern day leadership of the Democratic Party may not have taken the responsibility to effectively challenge Islamic supremacism, and that is a huge problem for America. But this does not translate into the false perception held by many that individual members of the Democratic Party are not concerned about and passionate about the human rights challenge to defy extremism.
Moreover, this willingness of individual Democrats to challenge extremism is not just confined to me. I know of other nationally known figures opposed to extremism who are Democrats. Furthermore, my efforts in challenging the Islamic supremacist war on women has also shown the interest of others that have included Democrats. A few months ago, as we protested outside of the Capitol to challenge the Islamic supremacist war on women, I urged the public to sign an Internet petition to American and world leaders expressing our concern on this issue. I heard back later that some were reluctant to sign the Internet petition because the Internet company that hosted the online petition ended up putting on banner ads attacking Barack Obama; there were Democrats who did not want to agree to what would appear to be a partisan basis for challenging extremism. I was unaware of the Internet company having political banner ads, and I immediately agreed to pay the Internet petition website company to host the petition without any banner ads. Other Democrats were and continue to be concerned about the extremist war on women and other aspects of the extremist threat to human rights. The problem is that the political coalition challenging Islamic supremacism has gotten so used to only reaching out to conservatives, it has forgotten that such individuals are out there. But the fact is such bipartisan support among individuals for a human rights campaign against extremism has been there all along.
My point is not to suggest that we should create another political partisan group challenging extremism focused on outreach to Democrats. We have already have seen why political-centric groups cannot and should not be leading human rights issues. My only point is to clarify that the fundamental argument used to defend continuing a political-centric challenge to extremism, that only “conservatives” or “Republicans” will support such a cause, is simply not correct. We need to outgrow this perspective, and we need to offer a truly non-partisan human rights centric approach to challenging extremism – for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and the many others who have no interest in political partisan affiliation at all.
We need to take the problem of extremism seriously as a human rights challenge.
Our partisan political affiliations are not and will not be the basis for our larger commitment to equality and liberty. Our responsibility to equality and liberty is and continues to based on our responsibilities as human beings to support such inalienable, universal human rights. When we declared these truths to be self-evident in 1776, we did not do so as political partisans. When the United States of America and nations around the world joined as signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), they did not do so as political partisans. Such a commitment to human rights for all of humanity is larger than our divisions, larger than our political affiliations, and larger than any one nationality or “civilization.” Such a commitment to the human rights of equality and liberty is a universal cause, and it is these universal human rights that define our greatest challenge to anti-freedom ideologies, such as extremism.
4.5. The Arguments of Those Disagreeing with the Need for a Human Rights-Centric Focus on Extremism
Some are going to completely disagree with my assessment that we need move away from a political-centric approach to extremism and refocus on a human rights-centric approach. They are going to state that, unlike Communist totalitarian China, extremism has remained as an immediate and proven terrorist threat to the United States homeland. They are going to state that this key distinction will allow the American people to rally against extremism as an ideology when they are sufficiently educated to appreciate the threat it represents. Moreover, some will state that once another Islamic supremacist terrorist attack on America happens, this will serve as the final motivator for a majority of the American public to call for meaningful political reaction to extremism. These arguments believe that further details, sufficient fear, and perhaps even more anger are necessary to get meaningful action to challenge extremism. Let’s look at each of the basic arguments.
One argument is that there are many who are uneducated on the issue of extremism. But recognizing this without asking why they are not would be a key mistake. There are hundreds of books and thousands of magazine articles. There have been national speakers for years on the subject. There are grass-roots organizations. There are thousands of web sites. Moreover, even with the uneven nature of the media coverage, there have been tens of thousands of news stories and reports on this. We can choose to believe that a key reason that many are uneducated on the challenge of extremism is because, despite all this effort, it has not been enough to reach public. We can choose to believe that the media bias has been so significant that despite the thousands of news reports, the public still does not grasp the problem at all. Certainly there is some truth in these beliefs. But are these really the reasons why many are uneducated on the issue of extremism? Or is the larger reason that many are indifferent to the issue altogether, an indifference that has been increased due to the perception that challenging extremism is a political partisan issue? Certainly, we can and should do more to educate the public. But the old adage that “while you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it drink,” certainly applies here. It is not just what information we provide, it is how we provide it. As long as the information that we provide challenging extremism appears to be partisan, inconsistent with human rights, and based on fear and anger, we can expect that a large segment of our potential audience will always remain tuned out to the problem.
Another argument is that many in the public do not sufficiently fear extremism and recognize the threat that it poses. This argument counts on fear as a motivator. Fear may very well be a motivator for short-term decision making, but how does that work in the long run? Let’s revisit how long the effort to challenge Islamic supremacism really is. Do we really believe that this is an issue that will be effectively and consistently addressed in 2 years, 3 years, 5 years? Or is this a generational challenge? Even if we took the fatalistic view that it requires another extremist terrorist attack on American to get the American public’s attention on extremism, how long will such motivation based on fear last in a generational challenge? A year or two? Maybe three years? Moreover, many assume that the response to such an attack would be defiance to extremism. How can we be so sure of how people will react to fear? How do we know that the reaction would not be further appeasement to extremists instead? One thing that we must learn from the past seven years – fear is only a short-term and unpredictable motivator for political reaction. Even after the 9/11 attacks, over seven years later, we still don’t have an official recognition by the U.S. government that extremism even exists as an ideology; that demonstrates how little fear accomplishes. On September 12, 2001, could we have possibly predicted that all of these years would go by and we still would never have an official definition of an extremist ideological threat? This is not a problem that started with the Barack Obama administration. This is a problem that we have had and we will continue to have as long as tactics of using fear to motivate are employed. We have to decide what type of freedoms we are truly fighting to defend. Such freedoms must include our freedom from fear. We will not get there by primarily using fear as a motivator to defy an anti-freedom ideology such as Islamic supremacism. Indeed, the only thing we must fear is fear itself. It is our courage on human rights that is the greatest motivator to our fellow human beings.
Finally, there is the argument that indifference can simply be replaced with anger as a motivator to challenge extremism. Certainly there are endless outrages by extremists around the world to be angry about. Moreover, the political fatalist argument that another attack on America would motivate individuals to no longer be indifferent to extremism would also argue that some would be driven to anger against extremism. There is certainly plenty of anger to go around, no matter what the future brings. The question is not whether anger will be there over Islamic supremacism. The question is whether we will use our anger, or whether we will let our anger use us. For much of the past seven years, our anger and outrage has used us. Our anger has used us to accept a political approach to challenging extremism, which will ultimately be unsustainable. Our anger has used us to accept inconsistent allies in a political movement that do not all have a shared agreement on the priority of human rights and human freedoms. Our anger has used us to justify racing down one blind alley after another focusing on tactical measures, while larger strategic issues have been ignored in defining extremism and developing a sustainable human rights challenge to extremism. Our anger has used us to draw other angry people to us, who aren’t really listening to what we say and who don’t particularly care what we say, they are just looking to be in the company of other angry people. Yes our anger has used us plenty, while the supporters of extremism have sat back and watched us go around in circles. Isn’t it time that we stop being used by our anger, and instead channel our outrage at Islamic supremacist abuses as a motivator to extend our hand in friendship and love to our fellow human beings oppressed by extremists and try to lift them up? Isn’t it time that we show what free people can offer in fellowship with other human beings in terms of hope and love for the universal human rights of equality and liberty?
I don’t expect those who have been pursuing a political-centric approach to challenging extremism are going to readily accept such arguments, or that if they did, they would do so overnight. I have spent considerable time digesting and internalizing these arguments myself. Furthermore, I have some diverse life experiences that provide personal insights on certain aspects of this problem. I have seen the need to move towards a human rights direction since last summer, and came to a firm conclusion on this last fall. But realizing the need for change and developing arguments and a strategy to justify a new direction are two different things. One handicap that many of us in the “Anti-Violent Extemism” community have had has been our focus on details, and our stubborn belief that if only the public knew about one more fact, one more book, one more seminar, that many more would finally grasp the magnitude of the extremist threat. This has kept us constantly focused on such educational tasks, while not allowing ourselves the time to step back and look at the larger picture. We need to stop and think. We need reflection and self-examination. We need to ask ourselves where has the political-centric approach to challenging extremism been getting us?
Most of all, we need to recognize that more details, more fear, and more anger are not the answer. These will not win the hearts and minds of our fellow human beings in a sustained challenge to Islamic supremacism. We must look elsewhere for a sustained challenge to anti-freedom ideologies such as extremism. In looking for an effective approach to consensus building, we must look for something that will continue over protracted periods to diverse people, and that is where must come back to what we share with all other human beings – our universal human rights of freedom, equality, and liberty. These human rights are based on our shared respect and love for our fellow human beings.
The political-centric movement challenging extremism has clung to the component parts of such a challenge, such as scholars, white papers, conferences, books, etc., with the belief that this was real progress. Such components certainly have raised public awareness, but at the same time, a political-centric movement has also alienated many as well. Components of any movement challenging anti-freedom ideologies are not sufficient without a sustainable, credible human rights vehicle that will appeal to the general public committed to equality and liberty. From a perspective of lacking resources, it is natural to object to any change in direction that might threaten the few resources that presently exist. But more than seven years after 9/11, it is time that we recognize that those of us committed to challenging anti-freedom ideologies are in this for the long haul, in a generational conflict that will define who we truly are as individuals responsible for equality and liberty. We need to do more than simply react and cling to our political-centric movement. We need to look ahead to the need for an initiative of action for the future.
This brings us back to the fundamental question asked by the white paper – is a political approach or a human rights approach to challenging anti-freedom ideologies more productive? To those challenging extremism right now, what do you think? Do you think we are winning? Do you think that we are significantly changing the influence of extremism in America and the world right now? If you do think we are winning, I hope you are correct and I hope you have a plan. Because everything I have seen shows we are losing battle after battle in the war of ideas against extremism.
If you agree that we are not winning this war of ideas, maybe you might want to revisit your perception on what it is you think that you are really doing. Perhaps you are already a human rights activist today, and simply have not looked at your efforts from that perspective.
I imagine that the majority of the individuals reading this are not getting incredibly wealthy, incredibly powerful, incredibly influential, or incredibly popular over their commitment to challenging anti-freedom ideologies such as extremism. If that is true, then how is a political approach to challenging extremism working for you? Because political movements are traditionally about increasing political power, about increasing political popularity, and in some cases, about looking out for your own self-interests. If you are not successfully achieving any of these objectives, why would you want to continue a political approach to challenging Islamic supremacism?
In my own experience, the majority of the people challenging Islamic supremacism are selfless individuals that are not looking out for themselves or to gain political power, but work to do something to promote something larger themselves – like human freedom – like human rights. Many thousands of them are unpaid, unappreciated, unpopular individuals who devote their free time because they are trying to work to defend the freedom of others – simply because they CARE. As the political approach to challenging extremism continues to crumble, those selfless individuals who are responsible for equality and liberty have a home. They may think that they don’t fit into a “human rights” role, because they have long ago come to believe that human rights groups are associated with individuals who they believe don’t care about extremism. But our human commitment to human rights extends beyond just some traditional human rights organizations. We can have the imagination, the courage, and the vision to build an expanded human rights community that challenges all anti-freedom ideologies. Many may not realize it, but they are human rights activists today.
But we can’t have it both ways. We can’t be human rights activists and not have human rights organizations, priorities, and standards. We can’t say we have human rights hearts, while we have political mouths. We are eventually going to have to make a decision as individuals, and decide which direction we are going to take. For many people, when they come to this crossroads, they are going to stick to a political approach, because it is more comfortable, and it is what they find familiar in an uncertain world.
For me, I have made my decision. My commitment is to challenging extremism and other anti-freedom ideologies as my priority, regardless of my political science background. I may recognize that humanity is losing this challenge against Islamic supremacism, but I won’t accept humanity being beaten by Islamic supremacism. I won’t accept a no-win scenario in defying anti-freedom ideologies. Perhaps you also feel this way too. If so, then you have to think about whether you can live with what it takes to pursue a human rights direction.
1. Which is more important – your political partisanship or your commitment to equality and liberty?
2. Which is more important – your anger at outrages or your love for your fellow human beings?
3. Which is more important – your pride or the people suffering at the hands of anti-freedom ideologies?
4. Which is more important – defending security tactics or defending the universal human rights for all people?
5. Which is more important – demonizing individual Muslims or challenging extremism as an ideology?
You get the idea. You can come up with a hundred more questions like that yourself. If you choose to pursue a human rights approach, believe me you will. The questions get more difficult too. The problem is once you decide, you can’t have a foot in both the political camp and in the human rights camp. You end up that you have to decide. You can’t decide that you are going to focus on Democratic or Republican rallies, and then say that you are non-partisan. You can’t decide that you will invite political speakers to your events that don’t share your commitment to human rights, and then say you are objectively working for human rights. You can’t focus on your identity as a “conservative” or as a “liberal,” when it conflicts with your obligations in defending human rights.
If you accept pursuing a human rights path, popularity will not be your priority. That will include sometimes not being popular with other “conservatives” or “liberals” as well, as I am sure that I am not overly popular with many of either today. That is my choice. You will have to make your choice – which is more important – political popularity or human rights credibility?
A human rights mission of mercy cannot be a mission of hate. If you choose the path of pursuing human rights, you will have to think about what you promote, think about who you defend, and think about what you say and write. If you choose the path of pursuing human rights, you will have to be prepared to publicly admit when you make mistakes. If you don’t have the courage to apologize when you make a mistake, you don’t have the courage to fight for freedom. To a human rights mission of mercy, credibility on human rights and on human dignity is everything. To a human rights mission of mercy, we must acknowledge they don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
I believe that the challenge of extremism has also given rise to a new generation of human rights activists that are untapped and have yet to be effectively organized and led. This could be the opportunity for our generation to revisit our approach and accept a larger, more important destiny ahead – not only in challenging Islamic supremacism, but also in being responsible for equality and liberty – and defying all anti-freedom ideologies.
A losing team that is constantly reacting defensively ultimately gets worn out, no matter how passionate or how committed it is. This is where the remaining political-centric movements challenging anti-freedom ideologies stand today. We need to try something different. To effectively defy the forces against freedom, we must have a concerted and consistent offensive on the universal human rights of equality and liberty. Instead of the knee-jerk political reaction of rejecting human rights initiatives because some traditional human rights groups have failed to challenge extremism, we must develop our own initiative of human rights that consistently challenges all anti-freedom ideologies.
We need a new initiative of action on human rights that is focused on a consistent message of equality and liberty in challenging anti-freedom ideologies, including, but not limited to, extremism. This initiative must begin the long, protracted effort of outreach to other human rights organizations, it must focus on building a diverse and bipartisan membership of human rights activists committed to equality and liberty, and it must hold frequent public rallies to introduce this new initiative for freedom to others.
Such an initiative of action must start the long work of building the human rights movement infrastructure necessary to consistently challenge anti-freedom ideologies. It must build a human rights coalition that is consistent on the universal human rights of equality and liberty against all forms of totalitarianism and supremacism. It must provide an avenue for bipartisan healing and cooperation of individuals who have care about their fellow human beings oppression by anti-freedom ideologies. This is a larger challenge than just one group or one set of individuals, and it will not happen overnight. It will take the time and the effort of many over years.
Some will ultimately conclude that such a human rights initiative may be the hardest thing they have done in their lives. They will no doubt be correct; we must not underestimate the difficulty in pursuing such an initiative. But some will also ultimately conclude that such a human rights initiative may also be the most important thing they have done in their lives. They will also no doubt be correct there as well; the generations of the future are counting on us to have the courage of our convictions today.
The Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) organization is designed to be a beachhead on this front in consistently challenging the institutionalized hate of anti-freedom ideologies and in joining with other human rights groups that respect humanity’s equality and liberty. There are other components of such a movement today, some of which have very real limitations in their public outreach. In challenging Communist totalitarianism, such outreach groups largely rely on ethnic communities with individuals who have had families impacted by such repression or who are refugees from such nations. In challenging racial supremacism, such outreach groups largely rely on religious institutions and decades-old civil rights movements, but much of this outreach has yet to effectively reach many communities or racial groups. We need to look beyond only identifying former “victims,” and ethnic and religious groups concerned about such anti-freedom challenges, as coalition partners in human rights. In addition to these groups, we need to reach out to all of those who do have compassion for other human beings, but have yet to find a human rights vehicle consistent and relevant enough for today’s challenges to channel their energies.
The most challenging aspect of such a human rights initiative to action on equality and liberty will be on the issue of Islamic supremacism. While traditional human rights groups have respected challenges to totalitarian and racial supremacist issues, they have been largely unwilling to address the “taboo” topic of extremism. Just as we must realize that a political-centric coalition cannot effectively lead a human rights issue, we must also challenge traditional human rights groups to realize that every anti-freedom ideology remains a threat to our universal human rights of equality and liberty, including extremism.
Therefore, the idea that such an initiative of action can merely be constrained to a human rights initiative challenging extremism will not be sufficient, because it will offer no avenue of outreach to other traditional human rights organizations and its argument will be perceived as too narrow by many concerned about the larger issues of universal human rights. An initiative of action on equality and liberty cannot only address extremism and ignore other anti-freedom threats to equality and liberty. Its consistent credibility on human rights must address all those ideologies that defy the inalienable and universal human rights of equality and liberty. Moreover, after seven years of what has been perceived to be a political partisan challenge to extremism, the human rights challenge to extremism must clearly demonstrate that its commitment to equality and liberty is anything but narrow and parochial.
We can’t “choose our battles” when defying anti-freedom ideologies that stand against our universal human rights of equality and liberty. When we believe that we can only care about the human rights of those like us, or only those whose cause we find appealing, then we miss the point. It is our consistent responsibility for equality and liberty and our consistent commitment to love our fellow human beings that is the foundation for challenging anti-freedom ideologies, whether such ideologies are Communist totalitarianism, racial supremacism, Nazism, Islamic supremacism, or other attacks on freedom. Our love for humanity, like our human rights of equality and liberty, must be universal. Our initiative of action must be a committed mission of mercy to defy all those who would deny such universal human rights.
There is only one answer to hate and indifference towards the universal rights of humanity – the answer is love.
Ultimately, Love Wins.
For details of what you can do in our common cause, see RealCourage.org.