Rights & Wrongs

Rick Halperin, SMU adjunct professor of history and chair of Amnesty International U.S.A., recently found himself in an ironic situation A defender of human rights for more than 22 years, Halperin was frustrated when the Texas Peace Officer’s Association demanded Ami testy International U.S.A. move the group’s annual con vent ion to another site. The officers want a boycott of all conventions in Dallas until the police department improves minority hiring practices.

“I told them that SMU wasn’t even in Dallas.” he said. “SMU is in Highland Park and all the money from the meeting would be going there.” Though Amnesty decided to move the conference to Denton, Halperin insists the board made their decision “for the sake of cultural diversity” and not in support of me boycott.

Halperin personally disagrees with the decision, but he has bigger battles to fight. Since becoming chair last October, Halperin has traveled to both the Middle East and Australia to preach human rights. While in the Middle East, Halperin and his group focused on the Palestinian refugees in Gaza, whose condition he compares to “seeing 800,000 people living in a landfill.”

Though he’s ready with diatribes on human rights violations from Somalia to India to Bosnia, Halperin speaks most passionately when attacking abuses at home. Texas, a death penalty state, does not escape his scathing tongue. ” More of them [executions] are committed in this state than in any other place in me country. This state is a great state. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s at me bottom of the barrel when it comes to human rights abuses,It’s atrocious.”

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