Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

March 18, 2014

LION AND THE LAMB: Our nation on the hot seat

CROSSVILLE — Political leaders in the U.S., such as President Obama, have frequently mentioned in their talks that our nation is the best one in the world. This past week, however, our nation came under sharp criticism from two sources—one national and the other international.

On March 11 Diane Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of sabotaging the committee’s oversight work. Through subterfuge and legal threats the CIA has been trying to keep secret a 6,300 page history of a torture program against “war on terror” detainees that had been authorized by President George W. Bush and overseen by Vice President Dick Cheney. 

After being elected, Obama had unfortunately hesitated to make a clean break from Bush’s “war on terror” policies of waterboarding detainees, renditioning suspects to Mideast torture centers, using made-up intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq, and including neoconservative holdovers as advisers. News reporter Robert Parry has commented, “When historians set off to write the story of Barack Obama’s administration, they will have to struggle with why the 44th President chose not to hold his predecessor accountable for grave crimes of state and why he failed to take control of his own foreign policy.”

On March 14 the U.N. Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva began a two-day examination of the U.S. human rights record, its first since 2006. The Committee is charged with upholding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a U.N. treaty that the U.S. ratified in 1992. At this meeting the U.S. came under sharp criticism for its counter-terrorism tactics of using unmanned drones to kill al-Qaida suspects, its transfer of suspects to other countries that practice torture, and its failure to prosecute any of the officials responsible.

The U.S. rejected this criticism, however, stating its belief that the rights treaty “imposes no human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad.” “The United States continues to believe that its interpretation—that the covenant applies only to individuals both within its territory and within its jurisdiction—is the most consistent with the covenant’s language and negotiating history.”

The Rights Committee also strongly criticized the following domestic programs in the U.S.:

The disproportionate representation of African Americans on death rows. It pointed to the release last week in Louisiana of Glenn Ford, the 144th person on death row in the U.S. to be exonerated since 1973.

The rampant gun violence. 470,000 crimes are committed with firearms each year, including about 11,000 homicides.

The proliferation of stand-your-ground gun laws.

Enduring racial disparities in the justice system, including large numbers of black prisoners serving longer sentences than whites for similar offenses.

Mistreatment of mentally ill and juvenile prisoners.

Segregation in schools.

High levels of homelessness and criminalization of homeless people.

Racial profiling by police, including the mass surveillance of Muslim communities by the New York Police Department.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Mary McLeod, a senior official in the State Department, said: “While we are certainly not perfect, our network of federal, state, and local institutions provide checks on government... Since the founding of our country, in every generation there have been Americans who sought to realize our constitution’s promise of equal opportunity and justice for all.”

Do you have the same hope in the future that Mary McLeod seems to have?  

• • •

This column by local writers is dedicated to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world of peace and justice.  Opinions expressed in “Lion and Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff.  For more information, contact Ted Braun, column coordinator, at 277-5135.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014