PC in Power

Every year nearly a million legal immigrants enter the United States. But if we're to believe the words of one government official, all those immigrants might be better off staying home. John Shattuck, assistant secretary of state, has authored a report for the United Nations Human Rights Committee characterizing American history as a dreary tale of "egregious human rights violations." As examples Shattuck cites slavery, the displacement of Native Americans, and the failure to give women the right to vote until 1920. In Shattuck's dark vision of our country, there's no sense that America's historical tragedies grew out of historical circumstances that have since changed. Neither is there any praise for America's remarkable achievement in overcoming its past and expanding opportunities for all people—the very thing that draws all those immigrants to our shores. Instead, Shattuck sees American history as a stark tale of unending oppression. The truth, of course, is that history is never a simple matter of villains and heroes. The Native Americans were not simply victims of depraved whites; they also waged war on one another. And while slavery was a great tragedy, the American slave population is the only one in history to enjoy eventual elevation to full citizenship. In recent years women's rights and opportunities have exploded. If we want a more realistic understanding of history, we ought to turn to the biblical view. The Bible says history is like a garden growing both wheat and tares, or weeds. As any gardener knows, getting rid of weeds is tricky business. Sometimes the weeds have to be left alone, because in trying to uproot them you may uproot the wheat as well. In other words, even admitted social evils have to be solved with caution, or you may destroy the good along with the bad. This is what ideologues like John Shattuck fail to understand. He is impatient with America's flaws because he has a utopian vision of the perfect society. The danger in all this is that Shattuck is not just harmlessly spouting off politically correct slogans. Words like his are regularly picked up by tyrants around the globe who use them to justify their own oppressive policies. Over the years, whenever the U.S. campaigned for human rights in places like South Africa or the Soviet Union, the standard response by most dictators has been: But what about America's own treatment of blacks and Indians? By throwing our record back at us, these dictators excused their own much more serious human-rights abuses. So why don't you let President Clinton know that we don't want folks like John Shattuck knocking our own country in international forums like the United Nations. We should be represented by statesmen who are realists, not utopians. Our national light may have flickered now and again throughout history, but even in its darkest hour America has been a beacon for all peoples. Just ask the million immigrants who come to our shores every year.  


Chuck Colson



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