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In his speech, Mr. Cameron put his finger on the effects of all this. "For too many people, the very concept of rights is in danger of slipping from something noble to something discredited," he said. "It has a corrosive effect on people’s support for human rights."

That’s right. And it’s equally corrosive when Amnesty International makes a poster child of Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and suspected al Qaeda recruiter, or when Human Rights Watch becomes the leading anti-Israel propagandist of the present day—to the point of being publicly denounced by its founder. Human rights were once a pillar of democratic decency. The people who now usually claim to speak for those rights have systematically transformed them into a weapon against democracies and a shield for terrorists.

What is happening to human rights today is not a first: Other Western ideals—democracy, equality, freedom—have all been hijacked by the enemies of democracy, equality and freedom.