Kristof on CEDAW

Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist, provides a textbook example of human rights advocacy: Women’s Rights: Why Not?. He details particular horrendous abuses, claims that’s all “human rights” is about, and attacks people for even raising questions. It annoys him that the Justice Department is examining the legal effect of American adherence to a comprehensive international treaty intended to be a standard for domestic law, because “frankly, the treaty has almost nothing to do with American women … it has everything to do with the half of the globe where to be female is to be persecuted until, often, death.” If so it’s odd the treaty was drafted in such a comprehensive and open-ended way, and it’s odd it’s so important that we sign a series of commitments as to what we’ll do internally when we’ve already done it all anyway. For details about the treaty and its effect, see the text of the treaty and analyses linked elsewhere.

2 thoughts on “Kristof on CEDAW”

  1. Typically, a writer who uses
    Typically, a writer who uses the expression “Why not?” to advance a point—as in “Women’s Rights: Why Not?”—is not trying to persuade the reader through argument but is trying to make the reader feel that there simply are no counter-arguments to be made. It’s a technique of intimidation and silencing.

    Midge Decter gave a speech under the auspices of First Things a few years ago in which she pointed out that saying “Why not?” is a rhetorical method long used by the cultural left.

  2. True enough, but it wouldn’t
    True enough, but it wouldn’t work if the attempt to articulate non-liberal principles had not been given up.

    Kristof’s argument is “some women in the Third World are treated badly. Therefore the US should sign a treaty obligating all societies to transform themselves utterly by making sex irrelevant to any significant human relationship.”

    It’s not a good argument, to put it mildly, but it’s hard for “conservatives” to respond adequately if they are unwilling to say that sometimes sex should matter. And they aren’t.


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