MANHATTAN, Kan. - As a nation we have been slow to evolve in our understanding of human rights. When asked, most of us think that civil rights are human rights. They are, but they are only the beginning.
Civil rights are basically your right to be created equal to everyone else. Civil rights are incomplete if they are not accompanied by economic, social, political, and cultural rights. Unfortunately early on in the civil rights struggle, here was a big battle in the NAACP over human vs. civil rights. At the heart of this battle were two men: Walter White, the executive secretary of the NAACP and a lawyer who could pass as white, and W. E. B. DuBois one of the founders of the NAACP. DeBois asked: "Why should we ask for only one of the five rights categories?" Eventually, White won, and force out an ever more radical DeBois from the NAACP which set human rights back 50 years. Equality is precious but is incomplete.
Political rights are closely related to the Bill of Rights - the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. They cover codes such as freedom of speech, assembly, and the right to vote. But they also cover such things as forbidding torture and inhuman or degrading treatment; slavery or involuntary servitude; arbitrary arrest and detention; and, debtor's prisons. Political rights forbid propaganda advocating either war or hatred based on race, religion, national origin, language, sex or gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity,
Political rights provide for the right to equality before the law; the right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty (something our mass media often forgets these days); the right to appeal a conviction; the right to be recognized as a person before the law; the right to privacy and protection of that privacy by law.