The Constitution vs. International Rights: Philanthropy’s Wrong Turn

One of the great promises of international human rights, as expressed in the Ford Foundation’s report Close to Home, is that they assert “the inalienability of rights in a much broader sense than has ever been expressed constitutionally” in America. Every successful American struggle against racism, from the fight against slavery on, has been rooted in the conviction that our founding documents and principles provide all we need to make progress toward equality. That’s because Americans have consented to govern themselves according to those principles. When we demand instead fulfillment of a lengthy wish list of ill-defined rights – of which most Americans have not heard, and to which they most definitely have not consented – we may be doing the cause of racial progress more harm than good.

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