Freedom as a Cultural Universal

By Thomas Kochman - 07.09.2009

In both his Cairo and Russia speeches and in his news conference reacting to the government suppression of freedom of assembly in Iran, President Obama proposed the view that rights to free assembly and free speech are “universal”, not simply “American” values.

As a political strategy this approach is brilliant insofar as it allows the President to establish and promote \”America\’s interest in democratic governments that protect the rights of their people,\” without appearing to interfere in the sovereign right of all nations to govern as they see fit.

But thinking about freedom and human rights as “universal” does make us wonder how these values would express themselves in countries whose social and political history and culture are so markedly different from ours. Read more »