Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do as I Say or Inventing Human Rights

Do as I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy

Author: Peter Schweizer

Prominent liberals support a whole litany of policies and principles: progressive taxes, affirmative action, greater regulation of corporations, raising the inheritance tax, strict environmental regulations, children's rights, consumer rights, and more. But do they actually live by these beliefs? Peter Schweizer decided to investigate the private lives of politicians like the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, the Kennedys, and Ralph Nader; commentators Michael Moore, Al Franken, Noam Chomsky, and Cornel West; entertainers or philanthropists Barbra Streisand and George Soros. Using publicly-available real estate records, IRS returns, court depositions, and their own published statements, he sought to examine whether they lived by the principles they so forcefully advocate.

What he found was a long list of contradictions. Many of these proponents of organized labor had developed various methods to sidestep paying union wages or avoid employing unions altogether. They were also adept at avoiding taxes; invested heavily in corporations they had denounced; took advantage of foreign tax credits to use non-American labor overseas; espoused environmental causes while opposing those that might affect their own property rights; hid their investments in trusts to avoid paying estate tax; denounced oil companies but quietly owned them.

Schweizer's conclusion is simple: liberalism in the end forces its adherents to become hypocrites. They adopt one pose in public, but when it comes to what matters most in their own lives their property, their privacy, and their children--they jettison their liberal principles and adopt conservative ones. If these ideas don't work for the very individuals who promote them, Schweizer asks, how can they work for the country?

Publishers Weekly

Working with a broadly inclusive pantheon of "the Left" that places Ralph Nader and Barbra Streisand on equal footing with Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, Schweizer (The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty) suggests that liberalism's heroes conduct their lives in ways that prove their philosophy to be "ultimately self-defeating, self-destructive, and unworkable." While acknowledging that conservatives can be high-profile hypocrites as well, Schweizer employs a double standard, arguing that "when conservatives betray their publicly stated principles, they harm only themselves and their families," but when liberals misbehave, they harm their principles first and foremost. Sometimes his research uncovers significant contradictions, as when Schweizer points out that Noam Chomsky, who tends to demonize the military establishment, wrote his first book, Syntactic Structures, with grants from the U.S. Army, the Air Force and the Office of Naval Research. But many of his charges are egregiously hyperbolic, as when he suggests that Cornel West is a "segregationist" because he bought a home in a largely Caucasian suburb. Schweizer clearly knows the limitations of his argument, since he backpedals from many of his most damning statements in his closing remarks. For all its revelations, in the end, this volume reads less like a critique of liberal philosophy than a catalogue of ammunition for ad hominem bloggers. (Oct. 25) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Steve Forbes - Forbes Magazine

Here's a book that'll make your eyes pop. The mainstream media love it when notable conservatives get caught not practicing what they preach concerning personal behavior. Prominent liberals often pride themselves on being morally superior to conservatives. Liberals don't admonish others to lead virtuous personal lives, but they constantly excoriate corporations and businesspeople for being greedy, racist and/or heartless, soullessly putting profits before people, fouling our environment and shamelessly exploiting one and all. Liberals are adamant about imposing policies such as affirmative action; they declaim the virtues of labor unions and the need for ever-stricter environmental regulations. As this book engagingly documents, however, these lefties are in many respects even bigger hypocrites than are fallen conservatives. (30 Jan 2006)

Book about: Victorian Times and Pleasures or Sensacionales sopas

Inventing Human Rights: A History

Author: Lynn Hunt

"A tour de force."—Gordon S. Wood, New York Times Book Review

How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals far and wide. Hunt also shows the continued relevance of human rights in today's world.

The New York Times - Gordon S. Wood

According to many people in the West today, human rights trump all other claims and values, including those of custom, community and culture; everyone in the world, including every individual in strange faraway places like Darfur, has certain inalienable rights simply because he or she is a human being. As conventional as this claim has become for us, in the entire sweep of history it is quite extraordinary and of fairly recent origin. How did it come about and what has been its history? These are the questions Lynn Hunt has sought to answer in this remarkable little book. Indeed, because she covers so much ground in so few pages and with such clarity, Inventing Human Rights is a tour de force of compression.

The Washington Post - Maya Jasanoff

Already by 1776 it had seemed "self-evident," at least to the slave-owning Thomas Jefferson, that "all men were created equal." Of course, like all brilliant rhetoric, his claim was both startlingly and deceptively simple: It masked what may have been the most revolutionary (and in practice, controversial) aspect of American independence. For why and when did we ever start to think that human beings were universally equal, let alone obviously so? Lynn Hunt's elegant Inventing Human Rights offers lucid and original answers…Revolutionaries often see themselves as beginning the world anew, but neither the Americans nor the French conjured up their visions of equality and liberty in a void. Hunt skillfully situates their discourse of rights within a series of broader cultural changes that transformed how (Western) human beings related to one another. It is no accident, she argues, that ideas about common humanity emerged at the same time that people began to take an interest in portraiture, to listen to music in contemplative silence and, above all, to read novels. Indeed, Hunt's mastery of the 18th-century European landscape allows the book to double as a fresh interpretation of Enlightenment culture.

David Keymer Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information - Library Journal

Considering contemporary reading habits and conducting a close analysis of contemporary texts, Hunt (history, UCLA; Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution) argues that between the 1740s and 1780s Western attitudes changed dramatically: there emerged newfound feeling for others and an appreciation of others as self-directed entities. The reading public developed this sensibility largely as a consequence of the new epistolary novels of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Richardson, and others. Concurrently, there was a growing abhorrence of torture or public punishment. Thus was laid the foundation for a language stressing the possession of rights by all men, a concept incorporated in America's Declaration of Independence (1776) and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789). Though women were still excluded from political (but not civil) rights, the door was at last open to religious minorities, the Jews, and free blacks. Talk of rights waned with Napoleon; other political languages engaged Europe for the next century and a half. Rights surfaced again in 1948 with passage of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cultural history of a high order; recommended for academic and large public collections.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments     11
Introduction: "We hold these truths to be self-evident"     15
"Torrents of Emotion": Reading Novels and Imagining Equality     35
"Bone of Their Bone": Abolishing Torture     70
"They Have Set a Great Example": Declaring Rights     113
"There Will be no End of It": The Consequences of Declaring     146
"The Soft Power of Humanity": Why Human Rights Failed, Only to Succeed in the Long Run     176
Three Declarations: 1776, 1789, 1948     215
Notes     230
Permissions     261
Index     263

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