BI CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnTHE DANGEROUS MYTHnOF HUMAN RIGHTS by Thomas FlemingnEven if I had done all the things the prosecution says Indid, I would still not be guilty of any crime, because Inam fighting against colonialism. We have heard suchnarguments in recent years from a variety of sources: IRAnbombers, African National Congress supporters (bishopsnand • necklacers), and Marxist rebels all over the world.nHowever, on this occasion, the warriors against colonialismnwere a group of Puerto Rican nationalists accused ofnrobbery and murder.nThe announcer on National Public Radio did not evennhave to swallow hard or clear his throat. For years NPR hasnnnregularly aired the claims of would-be rebels against thenAmerican empire: leaders of the American Indian Movement,ncollege-kid Marxists out on a spree, incarceratednarmed robbers who suddenly “discover” that they arenpolitical prisoners—anyone, in other words, brave enoughnto shoot an FBI agent from behind a tree.nMost conservatives and liberals alike are willing to debatenthe fine points of right and wrong in the specific cases of ElnSalvador, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan,nbut hardly anyone is willing to challenge the basic assumptionsnof the argument: that there is an international code ofnhuman rights which all nations are obliged (read: can bencompelled) to live up to.nHuman rights and democratic globalism were the trumpncard of the Reagan Administration’s foreign policy. With it,nthe President took a propaganda trick or two from thenSoviets; in Central America, however, it led to one problemnafter another as Assistant Secretary of State Abrams receivednhis on-the-job training in Realpolitik. (The communists stillnrun Nicaragua, and an increasingly anti-American Norieganremains the ruler of Panama.) The lofty rhetoric of humannrights was used, under Presidents Carter and Reagan, as anpretext for deserting or even undermining three allies of thenUnited States (the Shah of Iran, Somoza, and Marcos) andnfor pressuring virtually every friendly regime outside ofnEurope and North America: Chile, South Africa, SouthnKorea, and Israel, to name only the most obvious. Anyngovernment that fails to live up to the professed ideals ofnScarsdale or Brookline Young Democrats is put on notice:ndo as we say (but not as we do) or face the consequences.nWhere would anyone get such zany ideas? Christians andnJews, of course, acknowledge certain standards of morality asnthe basis for social and political ethics, but the lawyers,nactivists, and criminals who make pronouncements onnhuman rights are only occasionally men of religious conviction.nBesides, it is entirely inappropriate — worse, it isnethnocentric—to expect Moslems, Hindus, and demonworshipersnto live up to the standards of Christian civilization,nespecially when some of these standards were discoverednonly in comparatively recent times and never applied,neven in Sweden, with any consistency.nAs John Randolph observed in 1806, when America wasnpreparing for war with Britain because of her violations ofnour neutrality: “A great deal is said about the laws of nations.nWhat is national law but national power guided by nationalninterest?” What, indeed? So, I repeat, where would anyonen