Denying Self-Determination: Paternalism And Human Rights

In my article Denying Self-Determination: U.S. Intolerance Towards Freedom Seekers I wrote about the United States government’s role in South African apartheid and the silencing of prominent Black Nationalist political figures. Acting as a colonial regime while aiding in the colonization of South African people, it is noted that the United States’ government has a major problem with paternalist practices and dictating the destiny’s of politically, and culturally autonomous people. Violating the basic human right of a people to be self-determinant of their independence and political affairs, this article will attempt to expound on the continuous denial of self-determination for the original inhabitants of the North American continent and expose the United States government as a settler-colonial nation founded on the genocide, colonization, enslavement, and assimilation of non-white people.

Since the arrival of European settlers on the North American continent and Caribbean islands the lives of the indigenous inhabitants of said lands have been subject to colonial dominance and arbitrary rule. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and over 100 years of displacement and genocide, the descendants of the original American people continue to struggle against the oppressive and paternalistic institutions/systems created by the descendants of the European settlers. In the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty enacted by the United Nations in 1976, from Article 1 Line 1 it is stated,

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

Article 2 Line 1 reads,

“Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status .”

Though this document was not ratified by the United States government until 1992, the colonial institution is still subject to its terms. Throughout the 20th century the U.S. government implemented various policies that acknowledged its paternalist practices and sought to reconcile relations with indigenous people, though never releasing them as subjects of colonial rule. Many years after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, allowing federally recognized tribes to manage land and mineral resources, under President Richard Nixon the U.S. implemented the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975, formally acknowledging the brutality of injustices committed against Native Americans as well as the right of indigenous people to be self-determinant.

Since the global colonization of colored people began, nationalist ideas and goals have developed throughout the ranks of all colonized groups. Wherever a culturally and politically autonomous group of people exists under an exploitative, oppressive, and genocidal regime arbitrarily implemented by foreign invaders then the fundamental human right to be self-determinant should be exercised. From its role in the South African apartheid struggle while existing as a murderous colonial regime since it’s inception, it seems that the United States government is obsessed with denying vulnerable groups of cultural and politically autonomous people their right to control their own political destinies.

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