The week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the new Commission on Unalienable Rights, to be chaired by the distinguished Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, the author of, among other fine books, Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse. Glendon’s book is a classic for explaining how the idea of individual rights has been rubbished by the modern conceptions of “human rights,” which in practice are any good (health care, education, tattoos, etc.) that a liberal demands someone else pay for.
The media coverage of this new commission doesn’t even try to be objective. Even the straight “news” stories are slanted to the leftists who are having bovine birth pains over the commission’s talk of “natural law.” Take the Washington Post (please. . .). Here’s the lede:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the creation of an advisory commission on human rights that has engendered controversy since it was proposed.
No, nothing slanted about that lede, nosireebob. Who “engendered” this controversy? Leftist advocacy groups:
Some civil rights groups expressed concerns that the new commission could become a vehicle to chip away at same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Jamil Dakwar, head of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, said it is an attempt to redefine human rights and “to roll back decades of progress in achieving full rights for marginalized communities.” . . .
The mention of natural law, a philosophy that all human beings are endowed with certain rights, set off alarm among advocates of legal abortion and same-sex marriage. The phrase is used by those who argue that basic human rights — such as free speech and the expectation that governments should not torture people — are made vulnerable when social goods such as education, health care and clean water are elevated to the characterization of human rights. . .
Last month, five Democratic senators sent Pompeo a letter expressing concern about the commission’s focus on natural law, calling it “a term sometimes used in association with discrimination against marginalized populations.”
The rest of the article, as well as even more egregious coverage from outlets like Politico, are just opposition briefs from the left. The reaction gives a good example of why this commission is necessary. I wonder how the leftists in the midst of their bovine birth pains would react to this expression of the centrality of natural law:
A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.
Oh that’s right—these words are from that notorious right-wing bigot Martin Luther King Jr, in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” He quotes Aquinas!! Sound the fireball at the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and ACLU, and Amnesty International! Better strike King from reading lists right away, lest anyone get the wrong idea.
It takes a special kind of philosophical, political, and constitutional illiteracy to produce some of the statements leftists are making in response to the commission. But this is exactly the kind of illiteracy that our institutions “higher” education have accomplished in recent years.