Department of Government and International Studies, University of Notre Dame ''Human rights'' today has become a global agenda. While previously functioning as part of broader political ideologies (say, progressive liberalism), ``human rights'' in our time operates as an autonomous ideology or global program--equipped with its advocates and missionaries, and also its detractors. As history teaches, the status of missionaries is always ambivalent, because one can distinguish between the quality of the message and the role of the messenger. While the message may be intrinsically sound, the modus operandi of the messenger may be suspect or obnoxious. Thus, to take a very egregious example: the Christian gospel may announce ``good news'' to the world, but the manner in which Christianity was extended into the New World, by Spanish missionaries and soldiers, was surely bad news for the Indians. It is estimated that, in the course of less than a century, the European excursion into the Americas resulted in the deaths of some seventy million native inhabitants, victims of killing, starvation, and disease.1 A later historical example is the spreading of French revolutionary ideas throughout Europe by Napoleon's armies. If nothing else, historical examples of this kind are a summons
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jan 4, 2002
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