MICHIGAN COALITION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
STATEMENT ON THE TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP)
(Info on the rally is below the statement)
The Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) joins with 1,500 labor, environmental, faith, and family farm and consumer organizations across the U.S. in opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is not about “the U.S. writing the rules versus China doing so.” The TPP’s rules are all about 500 corporate trade advisers over the past 5 years secretly rewriting the rules of 40% of the world economy for the benefit of trans-national corporations. If approved by the U.S. Congress and the governments of the other 11 participating nations, the TPP will (among other things) –
1. Promote more U.S. job offshoring and further gut the U.S. manufacturing base. U.S. workers would be forced to compete with counterparts in Vietnam (paid less than 65 cents an hour), Malaysia (rampant human trafficking), and other low wage economies. The TPP’s labor standards – modeled on the failed “Labor Action Plan’ accompanying the 2011 Colombia FTA – are grossly inadequate to the task of protecting human rights abroad and jobs here at home.
The TPP contains no enforceable safeguards against currency manipulation. Thus, the often modest tariff cuts achieved under the pact for U.S. exporters could be easily wiped out overnight by countries’ willingness to devalue their currencies in order to gain an unfair trade advantage.
2. Ban “Buy American” and “Buy Local” procurement preferences in many types of government purchasing. Our tax dollars would be offshored rather than being invested at home.
3. Undermine the recently negotiated global climate treaty; the decision to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and roll back the environmental standards enacted as part of past trade deals. The TPP’s “Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)” system would enable foreign investors to challenge bedrock environmental and public health laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.
4. Allow exporters to challenge border food safety inspection procedures, jeopardizing food safety. Vietnam and Malaysia, for example, export massive quantities of shrimp and other seafood to the United States, significant amounts of which are currently rejected as unsafe.
5. Delay the introduction of low cost generic medications, allow additional 20-year patents for new uses of drugs already under patent, expand monopoly patent protections for big drug firms – increasing health care prices and reducing access to medicine at home and abroad.
6. Weaken gay and women’s rights by allowing the country of Brunei to remain in the TPP, even after it announced that it would begin stoning to death gays and single mothers under new sharia-based laws.
7. Help banks unravel the new rules enacted to regulate Wall Street by prohibiting bans on risky financial products and “too big to fail” safeguards, while empowering foreign banks to “sue” the U.S. government over new financial regulations.
The TPP is just one of three global so-called “free trade” deals which threaten peoples across the globe (the other two: TTIP, TISA). The fate of the TPP will shape the outcome of the other two, all the more reason to ensure that we stop it. Our efforts in Michigan will contribute to the growing movement in opposition not only in the U.S. but in the other 11 nations included in the TPP.
The TPP elevates corporate prerogatives over human rights and democracy in an unprecedented scale, amounting to a corporate “coup-d’état.” We stand with United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, who describes the TPP as a “prescription for disaster” and vows to vote out any lawmaker who supports it.
FIGHT AGAINST THE TPP BY ATTENDING THIS UPCOMING RALLY, ENDORSED BY MCHR:
Printable version of the rally flyer
Join Stop The TPP-Michigan in raising our voices against the toxic and oppressive trade deal, the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership.) This deal, and others like it blatantly favor corporate rights over workers rights, indeed the sovereignty of nations and citizens alike. The impact such a trade deal would have if passed, would be disastrous for U.S. workers, the environment, and the people at large.
No more profits over people!!
February 4th marks the first day Pres. Obama can sign the TPP into law, per fast track legislation. But we still have a chance. We can still apply pressure. Especially before this goes to Congress. This campaign is just beginning, but our resistance is needed NOW.
We will meet for a rally behind the GM headquarters, at the GM Plaza Promenade at 4:00 p.m.
We’ll hear speakers talk about the TPP, and what it represents for the community, as well as on a larger scale. From there, we’ll march to the Transcending Labor’s Legacy monument at Hart Plaza, for a candle-lit vigil and community, as well as to announce coming actions and ways to resists corporate power grabs such as this. Our public action will coincide with similar rallies in 25 U.S. cities (and growing). And we’re just getting started!!!
Parking: Miller Garage @ 400 Renaissance Dr W, & Ford Underground Parking @ 30 E. Jefferson
There are many ways that you can help – with an organizational endorsement, getting the word out and recruiting your friends and co-workers, bringing your own signs, etc. If you would like to speak or perform at the event, or have any further questions, please contact:
248 358 5522
The following statement was written by MCHR Board Member Dr. Saeed Khan and was enthusiastically approved by the Board as our official stance on the recent increase in violent crimes against Arab and Muslim Americans:
Over the past several weeks, and especially over the past few days, there has
been an unprecedented increase in crimes and attacks targeting Arab and
Muslim Americans and their facilities based upon and motivated by their
religious and ethnic affiliations.
On December 4, 2014, Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, a fifteen year old Somali
American Muslim from Kansas City, Missouri was run over by an SUV that
severed both his legs. He died of his injuries four days later. The vehicle had
anti-Muslim messages written on it; authorities suspect that the incident was
deliberate and that Sheikh-Hussein was deliberately targeted for being
On February 2, an Arab Muslim American family was flying home from Ft.
Lauderdale on Delta Airlines to Detroit, one of its national hub airports. As
another passenger began to verbally abuse the young mother because of her
headscarf, the flight attendant decided to “resolve” the issue by making the
family move to the back of the plane, rather than rebuke or detain the
On Tuesday, February 10, three Muslim American college students from
Chapel Hill, North Carolina were shot while in their own home, execution-
style in the back of their heads, allegedly by a neighbor who had a history of
threatening them and who had exhibited hatred for religions and religious
peoples. Despite efforts to claim the incident was a result of a parking
dispute, compelling evidence suggests that the victims’ Muslim background
was the key factor in precipitating their murder.
On Friday, February 13, an Arab American family was verbally and
physically attacked in a Kroger supermarket in Dearborn. Witnesses have
stated that the suspects, who fled the scene and are still at large, allegedly
taunted the family with insults and threats pertaining to their Arab and
On Friday, February 10, a building under construction at an Islamic center in
Houston, Texas, was set ablaze. Fire officials suspect that the fire was
intentionally set with an accelerant, and have declared that it was arson. The
fire comes days after a Dallas rally by Muslim Americans defending the
Prophet Muhammad was countered with a virulent group of protesters
invoking anti-Muslim slogans and threats, as well as similar protests against
Muslim Capitol Day, which was held in Austin on January 29.
That same day (January 29), Texas State Representative Molly White posted
on her social media account that she demands Muslim American visitors to
her office must first renounce terrorism before she will meet with them. She
further stated that she keeps an Israeli flag on her receptionist’s desk to
notify Muslims of her beliefs and ideology.
Hundreds of social media posts calling for the killing of Arabs and Muslims
have appeared since the release of American Sniper, nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
Therefore, MCHR calls for the condemnation of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab
attacks by public officials and opinion makers. MCHR also calls for
increased investigations and prosecutions for the designation of such attacks
as hate crimes, especially as they involve the targeting of individuals and
communities based upon their religious and ethno-racial identity.
MCHR is an interfaith non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Catholic
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the late Rabbi Richard Hertz and the late
Episcopal Bishop H. Coleman McGehee. MCHR promotes awareness of,
commitment to, and advocacy for human rights through education,
community organization, and action. MCHR opposes forces that suppress
human dignity, freedom, and justice locally and around the world. MCHR
also organizes and sponsors Freedom Tours that take high school students
to civil rights sites in the south to educate them about our nation’s civil
rights history and inspire them to be our future justice leaders.
MCHR opposes the proposed MiRFRA legislation on the grounds that it would allow discrimination against LGBT individuals and would establish a precedent that could be used to justify further discrimination in the future. The following is a statement issued by Advisory Board member Rev. Harry T. Cook, which sums up MCHR’s position on the proposed legislation:
By Harry T. Cook
All signs point to a resurgence of “faith-based” politics that almost surely will produce legislation and resultant policies that will have their ground in uncritical religious and ideological belief systems.
The words “faith” and “belief” have together become a corrupting and dangerous influence in the world. An imam, a would-be suicide bomber, an evangelist, a bishop, even a President of the United States — each is permitted to defend his or her choices by appealing to “faith,” the validity of which one cannot determine, and to “belief,” which one is supposed to tolerate rather than challenge under the rubrics of “everyone is entitled to his own opinion” and “it is wrong to criticize or challenge another person’s religion.”
By faith, the Crusades were undertaken; to defend belief, so-called heretics were incinerated; on faith, some people still believe Earth is but 6,000 years old and those who teach otherwise are anathema; for faith, ISIS extremists behead people who fail to be proper Muslims.
In each and every case, the particular article of faith or tenet of belief cited is purposely placed beyond empirical testing and open discussion. Warrant for trust in such articles and tenets springs from so-called sacred texts, the contents of which are also supposed to be beyond ordinary textual investigation, and which are to be taken as the express law and will of whatever god is imagined therein. “It says in the Bible,” “It says in the Koran”: these are the justifications given for so much of what the Scots poet Robert Burns called “man’s inhumanity to man.”
What is called for in the 21st century is courage, not faith; knowledge, not belief. Courage is that which enables a person to seek for and deal with what is real, rather than what is imagined or wished for. Knowledge is that which is arrived at by observation and rationalized experience. Courage to seek knowledge, rather than to rely upon blind belief in what some religious or political authority claims to be true, is the key to establishing a just society founded on reason.
The courage to search for and act upon knowledge regardless of sectarian demands will be what saves America from becoming a theocracy. History bears witness to the fact that widespread reliance upon faith in unseen deities and the laws said to have been laid down by them (always mediated by a ruling hierarchy and defended by personal preference) leads inexorably to theocracy, meaning government by ruthlessly applied central authority and suppression of dissent.
Uncritical tolerance of faith and belief systems will lead us there. A belief-based system — a religion, in other words — must be judged on the behavior of its adherents toward others, and by no other standard. The Jesus of the New Testament prescribed just such a standard: “Turn the other cheek toward the hand of the one who hit you (instead of hitting back), walk the second mile voluntarily after the first that was required, love both enemy and neighbor, give up that shirt you’re wearing today as well as your coat to the one who has neither, and forgive as often as it takes.”
Beyond that ethic, where religion is used — especially in league with government — to restrict human rights, to bless unjust wars, to maintain class supremacy, to dictate who can and cannot marry, to prohibit women from exercising their reproductive rights — theocracy has come into its own. Even now the Michigan Legislature is on the verge of enacting a “religious freedom” statute that, in effect, would license such bias and discrimination.
Theocracy is a real threat. Let the theocrats concentrate on the ethical core of their system and promote respect for the dignity of each and every human being: a faith worthy of the name.
Harry T. Cook is a retired Episcopal priest, a bible scholar and a member of the Advisory Board of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights. He is a former Free Press reporter and columnist.
©Harry T. Cook
In conjunction with the observance of the 85th birthday of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. in January, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights is organizing a community-wide conversation with the goal of ridding our justice system of racial and class bias.
Representatives of police agencies and courts together with clergy, interested citizens and community leaders will be invited to address and find solutions to the troubling implications arising from the not-guilty verdict rendered in Florida’s People vs. Zimmerman case.
The members of the jury seemed to believe they had little choice but to find Zimmerman not guilty due to the Florida “stand your ground” law that allowed Zimmerman to claim self-defense after he profiled, followed, and, against police orders, provoked a violent struggle with Trayvon Martin that ended in the latter’s death. The jury was instructed to ignore all of the actions that led to the mortal encounter and consider only if Zimmerman’s life was endangered, although he was the one armed with a gun.
Against the background of America’s history of racial discrimination and strife, the original incident and all that followed upon it – from the much-delayed charging of Zimmerman with second-degree murder to the trial and finally to the not unexpected acquittal- evokes the terrible memory of Reconstruction-era justice in which African Americans were lynched by mobs, bombed to death in churches and persecuted with impunity by white citizens and authorities alike.
The verdict, coming within weeks of the U.S. Supreme Court’s gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, must be understood as a call for a moral renewal of our nation’s very soul. It cannot be said by anyone with a sense of morality that Trayvon’s family has seen justice done in this case.
“Stand your ground” laws are emblematic of the breakdown of commonsense and human rights in our culture. That George Zimmerman can legally carry a lethal weapon again and use it a second time in “self-defense” is an astounding commentary on the American system of justice.
Therefore, MCHR calls for the repeal of laws that encourage vigilantism by private citizens. In keeping with such an initiative, MCHR calls for changes in the administration of justice – from police interaction with those suspected of crimes to their possible trials and sentencing that produces abnormally high rates of incarceration of African American males.
MCHR is an interfaith non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the late Rabbi Richard Hertz and the late Episcopal Bishop H. Coleman McGehee. MCHR promotes awareness of, commitment to, and advocacy for human rights through education, community organization, and action. MCHR opposes forces that suppress human dignity, freedom, and justice locally and around the world. MCHR also organizes and sponsors Freedom Tours that take high school students to civil rights sites in the south to educate them about our nation’s civil rights history and inspire them to be our future justice leaders. Visit us at mchr.org