Human Rights, Justice, and Reform
" The destiny of human
rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities.
" Often the oppressor
goes along unaware of the evil involved in his oppression so long
as the oppressed accepts it. "
Martin Luther King, Jr.
" Today, the United States
and Somalia are the only two countries in the world which haven't
ratified [the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the
Child]. And since Somalia is a country with no internationally
recognized government, the United States essentiallly stands alone
as the last holdout to legally guarantee children the same full
range of human rights for survival, protection, development and
participation in society agreed to by 191 other sovereign nations."
"We can have democracy
in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the
hands of a few, but we can't have both."
Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court
justice from 1916-1939
" It doesn't take a genius
to pump up the GNP [of a developing country] by burning down rainforests,
using slave labor and social repression to keep things in place.
Hazel Henderson, economist
" Among Latin American
elites, a peasant asking for a higher wage or a priest helping
organize a peasant cooperative is a communist. And someone going
so far as to suggest land reform or a more equitable tax system
is a communist fanatic. There is no word or act suggesting the
desirability of elite generosity toward the poor, or the need
for education, organization or material advance for the majority,
that has not been branded communistic in Latin America in recent
decades. ... Since communism is the enemy and peasants trying
to improve themselves, priests with the slightest humanistic proclivity,
and naturally anyone seriously challenging the status quo, are
communists, they are also, by definition, enemies."
Edward Herman, economist and media
" In the United States
today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls,
but foreign policy follows Machiavelli."
Howard Zinn, historian and author
"President Rios Montt
[is] a man of great personal integrity and commitment who wants
to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans, and [is] getting
a "bum rap" on human rights."
President Ronald Reagan praising
Guatemala's military dictator in 1982; during the 17 months of
Rios Montt's "Christian" campaign (1982-83), 400 villages
were destroyed, 10,000-20,000 Indians were killed, and over 100,000
were forced to flee to Mexico
" The human race has improved
everything except the human race."
Adlai Stevenson, 1900-1965, governor
of Illinois and candidate for president
" Where, after all, do
universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -
so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of
the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the
neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the
factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where
every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity,
equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have
meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted
citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in
vain for progress in the larger world. "
" One of every three black
men in America today is in prison, in jail, on probation or on
In These Times magazine, November
" In 1995, African-Americans
made up 13 percent of the [U.S.] population and 15 percent of
all drug users, yet they comprised 33 percent of people arrested,
53 percent of those convicted and 74 percent of those sentenced
to prison for drug possession. "
Marc Mauer - book Race to Incarcerate,
In These Times magazine, November 1999
"The world knows nothing
of its greatest men."
"One of the great attractions
of patriotism -- it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of
our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully
and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly
Aldous Huxley, English author,
"The spirit of resistance
to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish
it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong,
but better so than not to be exercised at all."
Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the
Declaration of Independence and president of US from 1801-1809
" A major part of the
problem of [Third World] countries is that we have structured
their economies so that their labor and their land are being used
to produce cheap products for export rather than producing food
for their own people. "
David Korten, economist and internationalist
"The degree of civilization
in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
Feodor Dostoevski, Russian novelist,
"The U.S. can destroy
Iraq's highways, but not build its own; create the conditions
for epidemic in Iraq, but not offer health care to millions of
Americans. It can excoriate Iraqi treatment of the Kurdish minority,
but not deal with domestic race relations; create homelessness
abroad but not solve it here; keep a half million troops drug
free as part of a war, but refuse to fund the treatment of millions
of drug addicts at home....
We shall lose the war after we have won it."
Marilyn Young, historian, talking about US government values and
"A small group of people
acting in concert for justice and peace throw into motion invisible
questions held by a lot of people. They challenge that notion
that "we can't make a difference."
Bernadine Dorn, Irish democracy
" ... so long as the media
are in corporate hands, the task of social change will be vastly
more difficult, if not impossible ..."
Robert McChesney, journalist and
" I have come to the conclusion
that the actual state of violence, composed of the malnutrition,
ignorance, sickness, and hunger of the vast majority of the Guatemalan
population, is the direct result of a capitalist system that makes
the defenseless Indian compete against the powerful and well-armed
Father Thomas Melville, Guatemala
"There is no reason to
accept the doctrines crafted to sustain power and privilege, or
to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social
laws. These are simply decisions made within institutions that
are subject to human will and that must face the test of legitimacy.
And if they do not meet the test, they can be replaced by other
institutions that are more free and more just, as has happened
often in the past."
Noam Chomsky, American linguist
and US media and foreign policy critic
"We who have a voice should
speak for the voiceless"
Archbishop Oscar Romero of El
" Justice too long delayed
is justice denied. "