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Right-eye blindness.

Human rights never became much of an issue in the dismal election just concluded, but there is good reason to suspect that outside the confines of the United States, the re-election of Ronald Reagan was consideed to be most important by those to whom human rights matter least. There is a new swagger among the members of the dictators' club. Those who minitor human rights, from Pakistan to the Philippines, from Turkey to Guatemala, from El Salvador to East Timor, report a qualitative degeneration.

How could it be otherwise? The Reagan Administration has done more than "signal" that it does not care. It has encouraged each move toward the consolidation of despotism--in the case of Chile, choosing the very week of a crackdown on anti-Pinochet demonstrators to vote for an Inter-American Development Bank loan to a regime that has exhausted every other kind of credit. Our government is blind in the right eye; it mouths off about democracy and pluralism only when triggered by the key word "Sandinista."

It has been left to the people of the Washington antiapartheid group TransAfrica to put the United States to shame. By subjecting the South African Embassy to a regular and dignified exposure to outrage, it has demonstrated, in the best sense of the term, that the American conscience is not represented by apologists like Jeane Kirkpatrick and Elliott Abrams. The collusion between American capital and a system of slavery, not to mention the collusion of official anticommunism with a proto-Nazi ideology, has the potential for arousing a serious coalition. The Democrats are reported to be searhing for new ideas and directions. Why not a pledge that when they return to power, it is the torturers and not the prisoners who will tremble.

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Title Annotation:Ronald Reagan's human rights policy
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Dec 15, 1984
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