Amollo: United States failing to ask questions that made it a human rights leader

Benson Amollo

America is a great country. What keeps the United States great is her strength of foundation. The pillars of this nation’s founding are such that, despite the glut with which capitalism seeks to swallow huge portions of her humanity — it still tries to take care of her children. The kind of noise that crowds the American politosphere is all about the role of government over society — it’s all about governmental responsibility.

America, for that matter is the home of a welfare system — that even though not anything perfect, but an ideal precision that aims at minding the welfare of the not-so-fortunate of society. In that grandiose envelope resides both unemployment and disability incomes checks.

Yet, America’s steel strength of resolve is smoldering. History seems to be losing its firm grip on us. Today, the foundations that make this nation great are at risk of playing a worrying distant second or even third to the collective sense of reverence that necessitated its lead role in the world. The American human value culture — the one woven in the most searing conviction toward human rights and democracy is losing her coveted place for greed and avarice.

For how else would you explain the bailing out on a cripple as witnessed in Beijing recently? Depending on how the debacle ends, the United States disappointed a blind man at the hour of need. Having primed herself as the last best hope for humanity over the last several decades, blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, had every reason to believe in America and the power of her ability to deliver him and his family from the notorious jaws a Panda tyranny — his own government.

Incarcerated, beaten up, put under house arrest and having to face up with threats subjected to his family, Chen who recently escaped house arrest believes that although his eyes cannot see safety — his instincts point to the United States; he’s pleading for asylum. China is no longer safe for him and his family of a wife, son, parents and a host of relatives; they can all be killed anytime. His sin? Over the years he has voiced against China’s authoritarian one-child policy and other forms of birth control including clinical sterilization.

China’s form of justice in the stricter sense of human rights doesn’t ring serene. Thus, Chen’s concerns are serious. He thought he has evaded the cruelty of Beijing by escaping to the U.S. embassy. He had believed he would get some help from America, until the bailing out on him following a recent visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is believed his presence at the embassy would displease Chinese officials at the business summit that Clinton was presiding over. The United States, thus, chose the easy path. Chen was offloaded to the warthogs of Beijing — he was escorted to a government hospital for treatment and asked to return to his home thereafter. Really? It is for the same fears that he cried out loud that he wanted to “Go with Hillary.” He also reached out to the White House and Congress through a telephone, making more pleas.

Chen’s dilemma and the U.S. government’s reaction, can only lead to one conclusion: the erosion of the American strength of character and resolve. Who would have thought this country would one day cave in to China, especially on a matter so touchy and central to America’s DNA as human rights? In the political scheme of things, human rights seem to have taken a backseat, and the U.S. government is less appalled at cruel dehumanizing forms that authoritarian regimes like Communist China find handy. Instead, America is a spectator of the kind of ills whose castigation earned her a coveted place in global leadership.

In extension however, the dialing down on human rights exposes the sudden death of a probing culture that was American. Today, people no longer seek solutions. Very few are asking the much needed questions. Very few seem to see a problem in this close intimacy with a China that is not interested in the welfare of the American people or even her own people, despite the benefits abound. Huge sections of society have found safety in keeping quiet. We are staring and cheering solutions; there’s less impetus to breaking new grounds.

In her book, “The Death of Why?” Andrea Batista Schlesinger hypothesizes that it is the personal censorship and the awkward complacency at the individual level that has led to the decline of a robust democracy. That very few people are asking questions has put most of us in a conveyor belt waiting to consume; hounding for results instead of asking questions. At home, not so many Americans are standing up to government to make demands. Thus, we have a culture build on a template of greed and selfishness; the big corporate complex with their cronies in government can grease the palms of China. They both win while the Chinese and American lot are thrown into the abyss.