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Recent decades have seen widespread recognition of the importance of human rights and the proliferation of international institutions devoted to defending them. But human rights remain more feted than respected. A primary reason is the hijacking of human rights institutions by ideologues who promote personal political agendas while whitewashing the abusers.
Politically minded hijacking of human rights institutions is not just hypocritical; it neutralizes the very groups that ought to be protecting human rights. The ability to describe abuses is eliminated when the abusers are described as human rights champions and the innocent are described as monsters.
Any serious program promoting human rights has to fight these human rights hijackers alongside the human rights abusers themselves.
Sadly, the University of California-Davis helped perpetuate human rights hijacking earlier this month, inviting Sarah Leah Whitson — a prominent distorter of human rights values — to headline a five-day celebration of human rights and the humanities.
As director of the Middle East and North African division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Whitson has dedicated the department to relentlessly attacking Israel while ignoring actual human rights abuses in the region.
NGO Monitor, which contacted UC-Davis to protest Whitson’s invitation to the school, has catalogued the most egregious instances of her selective advocacy.