Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson now heads up the High Road for Human Rights (HighRoadforHumanRights.org). He will speak Sunday, Sept. 14, 2 p.m., in the City Library auditorium (210 E. 400 South) at the Forum for Questioning Minds, on human-rights atrocities.
What can be done locally about human-rights atrocities?
History shows that most elected officials never act on their own to stop major human-rights atrocities. It takes citizen activism to bring about change. Things we can do locally to find solutions and reduce harm include 1. Join High Road for Human Rights, which organizes people in local communities across the country to push together for change; 2. Join with other local citizens to meet with editorial boards of TV and radio stations and newspapers to achieve better coverage of human rights issues; 3. Join other local residents in attending every meeting where members of our congressional delegation are present and push for change in U.S. policy.
Which presidential candidate will bring attention and solutions to the atrocities?
Barack Obama. Ralph Nader.
Which candidate will likely prolong the suffering by not focus attention?
What’s the High Road for Human Rights do?
President Clinton’s national security adviser told a human-rights advocate that people would have to “make more noise” if the U.S. government were to provide international leadership to stop the genocide in Rwanda. No one organized at the grass roots level, there was no public call for anything to be done, and, as a result, 800,000 men, women, and children were butchered in 100 days. High Road for Human Rights is organizing people in local communities throughout the U.S. so they will be working in unison, with a proven strategy for bringing about changes in U.S. policies relating to human rights.
For the time being, are you sitting out a run for office?
Not just for “the time being.” I will not run for elected office again. I will devote the rest of my life to organizing people throughout the nation to change U.S. policies as they relate to human rights.
On the local level, which upcoming races matter most and what’s at stake?
In order to move toward greater protections for human rights, we need real leaders at every level of government who will speak up and help inspire action by others. Those who, out of timidity and fear of rocking the boat, remain quiet about major human-rights issues—such as wars of aggression, torture, “extraordinary rendition”—and catastrophic environmental degradation, are not the leaders we need for change to occur. They are part of the problem.
Are you likely to endorse a presidential candidate this year?
I haven’t endorsed anyone at this point. Because of the anachronistic, anti-democratic Electoral College, my vote (which would otherwise be for Obama) doesn’t really count, I may vote for Nader to help send the message that the Democrats cannot take us for granted as they move farther to the right (like Obama did when he capitulated on FISA and immunity for the telecoms).
What issues should voters carefully evaluate their candidates’ stands on?
Climate change and urgent, aggressive implementation of alternative energy sources; nuclear non-proliferation and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons; and a consistent policy, consonant with the pledge of “Never Again” after the Holocaust, relating to the protection of human rights in the U.S. and throughout the world.
As a former mayor, any thoughts on a former mayor, Sarah Palin, pole vaulting into national politics?
Sarah Palin was the big-spending, federal-earmarks-dependent mayor of Wasilla, population 7,025. She proved herself to be a fundamentalist book-censoring kook then, and has since become a caricature of the current anti-intellectual trend in the U.S. to ignore science (and neglect reading) in denying climate change and evolution. She opposes sex education and birth control, even after her 17 year old daughter became pregnant from her self-described “fucking redneck” boyfriend who has written on MySpace that he doesn’t want any kids. That a person like Palin can be nominated to run as vice president by a major political party is a frightening reflection of the pervasive culture of ignorance and intolerance in our country. Imagine Sarah Palin in charge during a Cuban missile crisis. Several Republican consultants (including Peggy Noonan) recently were caught on a live microphone saying about Palin’s nomination and its impact on McCain’s candidacy: “It’s over.” It should be.