Every year, the U.S. State Department releases a report on the status of human rights in countries around the world. Every year, one country is notably missing from this report — the United States. This year, China fired back by releasing its own report on the status of human rights in America, just two days after the U.S. report was released. China found that the United States has infringed on human rights around the world, particularly in its military operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, as well as at home. The report cited gun violence and discrimination on the basis of race, sex and religion as instances of human rights violations within the United States. It also alleged that America is not a true democracy, as political contributions have made it so “Americans do not enjoy a genuinely equal right to vote.”
There has been no response from the American government concerning these allegations. And why should there be? A foreign government has no right to criticize how our country is run, to impose its own standards on us and expect us to change. It’s completely understandable if we are upset by this report and feel some hostility toward China, isn’t it?
Whatever feelings this report evokes in Americans surely reflects the response of other citizens in other countries to the annual State Department report. The sheer arrogance involved in releasing a report that judges every other country is amazing. Since its inception, the idea of American exceptionalism has infused itself into everything we have done as a nation, and it’s time for that to stop. America has never been superior in anything but military might. The fact is, all of the allegations China made are true. Despite the human rights progress our society has made — from the abolition of slavery to women’s suffrage — racism, sexism and intolerance still run rampant.
Our government must remember that it governs America, not the world. How can we expect to maintain positive relations with other countries while our noses are still in the air? We are not the greatest country in the world. We are one of many countries struggling to provide for all of our citizens. Perhaps if we ranked number one in income equality, standard of living and education, we could release a report about what every other country is doing wrong. But we don’t, and we aren’t even close.
China’s report illustrates the hypocrisy that has plagued U.S. foreign policy for generations. If we continue to view ourselves as better than everyone else — even though there are mountains of evidence suggesting otherwise — it will be increasingly difficult to find allies in this changing world. Our role as an international police force has rubbed other countries the wrong way since the Monroe Doctrine, and it’s time for us to give it up.
A version of this article was published in the Thursday, April 25 print edition. Ian Mark is a staff columnist. Email him at [email protected]