In this preview of an article due for publication in the
Summer issue of FPRI’s Orbis, the author takes a markedly
conservative position on a controversial question that has arisen since
September 11, 2001. He suggests there has arisen a conflict within the
democratic world between liberal democracy and transnational
progressivism, between democrats and what he calls
Nearly a year before the September 11 attacks, news stories provided a preview of the transnational politics of the future. In October 2000, in preparation for the UN Conference Against Racism, about fifty American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) called on the UN "to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination."
The NGOs included Amnesty International-U. S.A. (AI-U. S.A.), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Arab-American Institute, National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and others. Their spokesman stated that their demands "had been repeatedly raised with federal and state officials [in the U. S.] but to little effect. In frustration we now turn to the United Nations." In other words, the NGOs, unable to enact the policies they favored through the normal processes of American constitutional democracy—the Congress, state governments, even the federal courts—appealed to authority outside of American democracy and its Constitution.
At the UN Conference against Racism, which was held in Durban two weeks before September 11, American NGOs supported "reparations" from Western nations for the historic transatlantic slave trade and developed resolutions that condemned only the West, without mentioning the larger traffic in African slaves sent to Islamic lands. The NGOs even endorsed a resolution denouncing free market capitalism as a "fundamentally flawed system."
The NGOs also insisted that the U. S. ratify all major UN human rights treaties and drop legal reservations to treaties already ratified. For example, in 1994 the U. S. ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), but attached reservations on treaty requirements restricting free speech that were "incompatible with the Constitution." Yet leading NGOs demanded that the U. S. drop all reservations and "comply" with the CERD treaty by accepting UN definitions of "free speech" and eliminating the "vast racial disparities… in every aspect of American life" (housing, health, welfare, justice, etc.).