[Posted 7:53 AM by Roger Kimball]
A day or two ago, we reported on the repugnant claim of Irene Khan, the Secretary General Amnesty International, that the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, was �the gulag of our times� -- a claim later supported by Amnesty International’s U.S. director, William Schulz. This outrageous piece of anti-American rhetoric has been receiving some of the obloquy it deserves, including this thoughtful piece by Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History (which we reviewed here). �In part,� Applebaum writes,
I find this comparison infuriating because in the Soviet Union it would have been impossible for the Supreme Court to order the administration to change its policies in Guantanamo Bay, as it has done, or for the media to investigate Abu Ghraib, as they has done, or for Irene Khan to publish an independent report about anything at all.Applebaum herself is �appalled by this administration’s detention practices and interrogation policies�, but she notes that Amnesty’s reckless and irresponsible charges have undermined any just criticisms they may have:
Amnesty, by misusing language, by discarding its former neutrality, and by handing the administration an easy way to brush off "ridiculous" accusations, also deprives itself of what should be its best ally. The United States, as the world’s largest and most powerful democracy, remains, for all its flaws, the world’s best hope for the promotion of human rights. If Amnesty still believes in its stated mission, its leaders should push American democratic institutions to influence U.S. policy for the good of the world, and not attack the American government for the satisfaction of their own political factionIn my early post, I quoted Denis Prager’s conclusion: �If Amnesty International does not fire Irene Khan and retract her obscene comparison, it is unworthy of respect or support. A new non-leftist anti-torture organization must be built.� It is an observation that bears repeating.