Amnesty International Director Talks at U

By Ali Hasnain

To believe that human rights are important is easy. To realize the relevance of that importance is another story, according to William Schulz.

Schulz ?peddled? his book, In Our Own Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All, Thursday at the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Schulz?s message was clear and simple: ?Honor and benefit must coincide.? It is not enough simply to recognize the mistreatment of a human being. It is in the best interest of the nation and its population, along with the rest of the world, to defend human rights.

Executive Director of Amnesty International, Schulz relayed not only the importance of human rights in the world, but also the benefits of advocating such rights in the United States.

He said the topic is one discussed regularly. However, according to Schulz, ?It was on the basis of moral terms.?

Regarding the public, ?an appeal is made to their moral conscience.? If local population hears of horrific events in countries far away, the unpleasantness of them is enough to identify what it must be like.

Schulz labeled a problem with a moral appeal as ?compassion fatigue.?

With a general mindset that the United States is an exceptional nation?it is the standard bearer?the relevance of human rights abroad may not be clear at first. Schulz said that the importance pertaining to us is questioned, and our moral imagination can fail us.

He also pointed out that many foreign policy realists don?t see the connection of human rights with the national interests. Nonetheless, his criticism was compassionate. ?People must reach across the barriers of the mind and into the region of the heart,? Schulz said.

Violation of human rights occurs almost everywhere. ?Iceland is the only country without a violation,? Schulz said.

He detailed many examples, including prison conditions in Russia, religious intolerance in Northern Ireland and the oppression of women around the world. His example was from Pakistan.

If women don?t have influence over their own bodies, then it would inevitably show in the booming population. The increase in population would have the potential for increase in immorality due to hopeless situations?a major cause for terrorism.

Schulz paralleled his ideas with the current events and the war on terrorism.

?The solution is not to go after one group or one man,? he said. ?Instead, this conflict must be solved on the streets of countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. People will have to decide whether to support or banish the extremism.? After all, extremism and terrorism are many times the answer to oppression of human rights.

As President of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations from 1985 to 1993, Schulz has been involved in a wide variety of international and social justice causes, traveling to Romania, India, Liberia and many more countries.

Schulz?s book went up to No. 13 on the Los Angeles Times Best Seller List last spring. ?[Its success] reflects how the book frames human rights traditions like never before,? he said.

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