Opinion | Stop turning human rights into “political issues”

Basic human dignity had devolved into a political football between parties.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

We are a society where equality, justice, and liberty exist only for certain people. Political issues concern taxes, gun control, or campaign finance reform. America continually turns basic human rights into a political debate where politicians argue whether or not everyone gets to have equal rights and be treated with respect.

Why are we continuing to allow systemic racism to exist and continue to justify the oppression of a single group for more than 400 years? Everyone deserves the right to be able to jog, drive a car, cash a check, or sleep in their own bed without fear of a death sentence because of the color of their skin. We cannot call America the land of opportunity when the Black unemployment rates are twice that of white unemployment rates, a land of equality when Black drivers are 30 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers, or a land of liberty when Black students are three times more likely to be suspended than white students for the same infraction.

It is not a political debate whether or not we should hold people accountable when human rights are infringed upon and taken away. We need to stop justifying the denial of basic human rights by telling people that their experience is an illusion. Everyone deserves the same opportunities, the same rights, to not fear for their lives and to be treated like human beings — so why do we take human respect and twist it into a political game?

Why are we criticizing and punishing people for who they love or how they identify? The Trump Administration’s decision to reverse the Obama-era rule that encompasses gender identity in the sex definition of the Affordable Care Act is an act of discrimination and purposeful inequality. Why can’t we respect a person’s gender identity or collectively conclude that transgender rights are human rights? Debating over whether someone should have access to health care denies human rights and goes against the American value of “justice for all.” No one should be turned away by a medical provider based solely on their gender identity.

Because of our government’s discrimination that has been going on for years against LGBTQ and transgender rights, American society has normalized a sense of hate which has enacted violence against these groups. No one will forget the Pulse Nightclub shooting where 49 lives were taken, which became known as the worst massacre against the LGBTQ community in history. Just because someone isn’t like you doesn’t mean you can deny human respect or rights and hate them because of who they love or how they define themselves.

Why have we normalized locking people in cages like animals? Everyone deserves to be treated as human beings. It should not be a debate over whether someone has access to proper sanitation, medical assistance, or basic needs like toilet paper and toothpaste just because they are labeled an immigrant or refugee. No child deserves to be separated from their family, drink from unwashed bottles, or held in extremely cold temperatures with lights on 24/7.

I’m not going to deny that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and have their own political beliefs. However, if those beliefs consist of denying basic human rights, equality, justice, and liberty, that is not a political belief or opinion. This is about human respect, and right now we need to take a good look at ourselves and ask who we are becoming if we are justifying or advocating against the barest rights imaginable.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.