18 July 2017   Leave a comment

There is a spirited debate over the question of whether human rights are universal or culturally determined.  Committed liberals believe, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, that all persons “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”.  This position holds that human rights exist naturally and are not created by governments.  Many in the world, however, believe that the question of rights can only be defined in terms of specific contexts.  There is an interesting case in Saudi Arabia right now which demonstrated the latter position.  A woman was videotaped wearing a miniskirt and a tank top.  Saudi culture insists that women “women…wear headscarves and abayas (full-length robes) in public”.  We will see whether this particular woman will be prosecuted for exercising what many liberal societies regard as a personal right to choose one’s attire.  On the other hand, in the US, the Ladies Professional Golf Association has just issued rules forbidding women golfers from wearing leggings or plunging necklines at golf tournaments.

The Turkish government has just arrested the Director of Amnesty International’s Turkey office and five other human rights activists.  The arrests follow a massive crackdown by the government on possible dissidents on the anniversary of the attempted coup against President Erdogan in 2016.  Erdogan came to power in 2003 and he has steadily increased the powers of his office since that time.  He now has virtual control over all the governmental institutions in Turkey.

The Pew Research Center has released the results of a multi-country poll on opinions about the US role in the world.  Generally speaking, public confidence in US leadership has declined rather dramatically since the election of President Trump.  According to the report:

“Across 37 countries we surveyed in spring 2017, a median of just 22% said they have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs. In contrast, 64% expressed confidence in President Barack Obama in these same 37 nations during the final years of his presidency.

“And this shift in American leadership has clearly had an impact on how the world sees the U.S.: A median of 49% now give the U.S. a favorable rating, down from 64% in the Obama era.”

Interestingly, in many European countries, confidence in President Trump mirrors historical confidence in President George W. Bush.  President Trump has the highest favorability rating in the Philippines.


Posted July 18, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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