The United States is considered the melting pot of the western world. It boasts many different cultures. People from every part of the world have chosen to live amongst others. They can either assimilate within the cultures; Italian Americans, or maintain their own cultures; Greeks. With such diverse cultures being represented, it is hard to fathom individuals being denied basic human rights. In other areas of the world, humans are being tortured, raped, and killed. These human rights violations are being protected under the muse of tradition, or culture. Cultural rights are being elevated by the notion that only people within that particular society can moderate their own culture. This is called cultural relativism. Although, cultural relativism states cultures cannot be judged by outside societies, individual human rights should outweigh cultural ones.
Cultural relativists promote the rights of cultures to dictate what is morally accepted within one’s own society. Cultural relativism is defined as the view that an action is morally right if one’s culture approves of it (Vaughn). This ideology is formed to prevent ethnocentrism, or the belief that one’s culture is superior to another. Though in theory this sounds plausible, it does little to promote an understanding of different cultures. Since the society makes up the laws that dictates and protects its own people, universal laws of protection may not be applied. Cultural rights are important in that they protect individual cultures against the majority states and communities. (Donnelly 219). If it were not for cultural rights, the smaller cultures would cease existing along with their traditions and beliefs.
Tradition, therefore, may be a front for continued prejudices within a society. In order to protect the traditions of a society one must have a full understanding and defend the piety of its culture. This can be difficult for a person that has been raised in a different society. “Cultural rights protect a communal way of life, which typically has significant value for most members of the community.” (Donnelly 218). Those within the community that are not deemed as the majority can have their rights violated. If the people in charge are responsible for creating all the laws, it is inevitable that the laws will be favorable for them and people who appear to be like them. Being that cultural rights are not universal, it makes it difficult to govern all the laws in place. This ultimately hinders the protection of individuals.
Individual human rights protect the people without a voice. These people include the minorities; non-Anglo Saxons, women, and poor. These people are general not the lawmakers. Therefore, the laws are usually not favorable towards them. They are universal and equal in the distribution. These rights are best described as:
Human rights are equal rights: one either is or is not a human being, and therefore has the same human rights as everyone else. They are also...