Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mary Robinson and the Medal of Freedom

I've been a little busy lately, but now it's time to get back into the swing of things.

Mary Robinson to receive the US Medal of Freedom? Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and High Commissioner of the UN's Human Rights Commission will receive the award according to the White House. Just what is the Medal of Freedom?

Established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945, the Medal is to be awarded to a person who "has performed a meritorious act or service which has aided the United States in the prosecution of a war against an enemy or enemies and for which an award of another United States medal or decoration is considered inappropriate. The Medal of Freedom may also be awarded to any person, not hereinafter specifically excluded, who, on or after December 7, 1941 has similarly aided any nation engaged with the United States in the prosecution of a war against a common enemy or enemies." Executive Order 9586.

What were Mr. Obama's thoughts when he announced the award to Mrs. Robinson? Speaking of all the recipients, the president said:

"These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of back-grounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.

"Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive. It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom."

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. While the Executive Order speaks of assisting the US in a war against a common enemy, the president is recognizing "accomplishments" in "sports," "fine arts," and "foreign affairs." If she is being rewarded for her role in foreign affairs, doesn't anyone at the White House remember that Mrs. Robinson almost singlehandedly turned the first Durban conference into an Israel bashing party that set the tone leading to years of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments and actions by NGOs and governments around the world? She set back the cause of human rights around the world instead of advancing it.

Sorry folks, granting a Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson cheapens an award originally designed to go to those who assist the US in advancing the cause of freedom, not to a woman who set it back.


The Expatriate said...

You are clearly not aware of Mary Robinson's career in the field of human rights, or you have subsumed that knowledge to your own political agenda.

You should be aware that Robinson has struck blows for freedom both in her own country and internationally. In Ireland, she has played a major role in loosening the Roman Catholic Church's death grip on that country, legalizing contraceptives and homosexuality. That alone is an accomplishment not to be scoffed at.

In terms of foreign affairs, she has worked to implement ethical rules for the treatment of migrant workers both in Ireland and around the world. Her receiving the award has been endorsed by charities such as Oxfam, and by Israeli human rights organizations such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

The most amusing part of diatribe is your claim that her selection does not rise to the dignity of the award. You evidently have very little knowledge of the Medal of Freedom's history beyond a quote from President Truman's original executive order. The award has been granted to sports stars such as Roberto Clemente (2002), actors such as John Wayne and Audrey Hepburn, and economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith and Friedrich Hayek. If you had known this, or thought about it a bit, you would have realized the award has evolved far beyond its origins, and that your comments on the original intention are in fact a moot point.

Andre said...

I suspect that you are among those that publicly sates that criticism of Israel is acceptable, while reflexively reacting to any criticism of Israel as an act of Israeli bashing.

Nice comment BTW The Expatriate.