Last June the United States became the only nation to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which a Trump official called a “cesspool of political bias.”
Just one day earlier, the U.N. Human Rights office had called Trump’s detention of children at the Mexican border “unconscionable.” Three days later, when the U.N. rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights delivered a scalding report on the United States, Trump’s envoy to the United Nations assailed that report as “biased,” “politically motivated,” and “patently ridiculous.”
Since then, the world has been treated to the spectacle of refugees, many of them children – some still in diapers – sprayed with tear gas by U.S. border agents.
George Orwell would not have been surprised. It is a little known fact that Orwell, renowned for Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, defended the human rights of children and detainees with force and insistence. Indeed, his views strikingly anticipate U.N. views as expressed by Philip Alston – the author of the report blasted by Trump’s outgoing ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.
What Orwell said on this subject over 60 years ago closely resembles the views that so infuriate Trump today. And a new archival discovery shows that, besides speaking up for children, Orwell took practical steps to build a new human rights movement that placed the needs of children front and center.
I learned the latter fact from a text I call…