Human Rights Watch’s report issued on Jan. 22 provides several facts that make reasonable people conclude that there may in fact be a double standard operating in more cases than can be explained by bureaucratic failures or cultural norms.
Consider these examples that the HRW report documents:
1. The US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, sometimes imposing very long sentences marred by racial disparities.
2. Some 363,000 non-citizens are held in immigration detention facilities, although many are not dangerous or at risk of flight.
3. Detentions without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
4. Seriously flawed military tribunals.
5. Blocking lawsuits seeking redress for torture victims.
6. 46 million people live in poverty in the US, the largest number in recent memory. Poverty often intersects with racial and gender inequalities.
Keep in mind that HRW, which has documented these infractions of the US’ own standards, is a moderate, middle of the road American organization. If anything, it is accused sometimes of soft-peddling, not over-criticizing, US human rights violations.
There is no question that US advocacy of human rights has been frequently quite useful for a variety of reasons, but its value would be greater if it had a better record of compliance.