North Korea's Scathing Report On U.S. Human Rights Is Hypocritical, But Not Wrong

Earlier this year, the United Nations released an extensive report detailing the North Korean government's “crimes against humanity.” In a strange turn Wednesday, North Korea released its own report on human rights in America. By North Korean standards, apparently, "the US is the world's worst human right abuser and tundra of a human being's rights to existence."

Included in North Korea's list of American offenses are the following:

  • "Under the citizenship act, racialism is getting more severe in the U.S. The gaps between the minorities and the whites are very wide in the exercise of such rights to work and elect."
  • "52 percent of the Americans have said that racism still exists in the country while 46 percent contended that all sorts of discrimination would be everlasting."
  • "At present, an average of 300,000 people a week are registered as unemployed, but any proper measure has not been taken."
  • "The number of impoverished people increased to 46.5 millions last year, and one sixth of the citizens and 20-odd percent of the children are in the grip of famine in New York City."
  • "The U.S. government has monitored every movement of its citizens and foreigners, with many cameras and tapping devices and even drones involved, under the pretext of 'national security.'"

Of course, North Korea has an abysmal record of human-rights abuses. Under the leadership of Kim Jong-un — the man who has reportedly insisted upon the same haircuts for all North Korean students men, has threatened nuclear tests, and allegedly fed his uncle to a pack of ravenous dogs — North Korea has committed such atrocities as "deliberate starvations, forced labour, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide," according to the UN report.

But North Korea's charges against America aren't completely off-base.

  • "Under the citizenship act, racialism is getting more severe in the U.S. The gaps between the minorities and the whites are very wide in the exercise of such rights to work and elect."

An Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report shows that the black unemployment rate has been twice as high as the white unemployment rate for the past 50 years. In five decades, there has been no progress made on this front. A census report also shows that there has been no improvement in the income gap between black and white households, though all races have seen a decline in income since 1999.

In 2011, the proportion of black families in poverty were almost triple that of white families — in fact, all minorities had a greater percentage of individuals in poverty than white individuals.

  • "52 percent of the Americans have said that racism still exists in the country while 46 percent contended that all sorts of discrimination would be everlasting."

The discrimination poll cited by the report isn't entirely accurate, as the Wall Street Journal article from which the statistic was likely taken shows that 52 percent of Americans categorize race relations as "good." The poll was taken following the Trayvon Martin case, and is still notable as the figure is down significantly from a record high in 2009 of 77 percent.

  • "At present, an average of 300,000 people a week are registered as unemployed, but any proper measure has not been taken."
  • "The number of impoverished people increased to 46.5 millions last year, and one sixth of the citizens and 20-odd percent of the children are in the grip of famine in New York City."

In terms of unemployment and poverty, despite Friday's report of the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) found that nearly half of New York City residents are living at or near poverty levels. And for the first time, Asians are listed as the city's poorest group. The CEO report also determined that non-hispanic whites were the only group to have declining poverty rates since 2010. The black, Asian, and Hispanic communities all saw poverty levels rise by at least 1 percent.

  • "The U.S. government has monitored every movement of its citizens and foreigners, with many cameras and tapping devices and even drones involved, under the pretext of 'national security.'"

NSA surveillance and wire-tapping techniques have certainly come under fire from the majority of Americans, with an USA Today/Pew Research Center poll finding that 70% believe they should not be forced to sacrifice privacy rights in order for the government to defend them against terrorism.

The validity of some of North Korea's accusations are sobering, to say the least. Yes, the hypocrisy behind their claims is staggering — but this doesn't absolve the United States of its duty to address the problems in its backyard, before moving on to policing the rest of the world.