Who are some famous human rights heroes?
July 6, 2016 6:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on a fundraiser for an old Soviet dissident. I'm writing the fundraiser text, and I need suggestions for some human rights heroes I can compare him to, to put his achievements in a context that modern people can understand.

I had assistance from an ad copywriter who suggested I compare him to Chelsea Manning and Snowden to try to help people understand what this dissident was like - to put him into context as someone who blew the whistle on state crimes and made sacrifices for human rights.

Unfortunately the dissident is best known in right-wing circles and I'm going to have to promote this fundraiser in conservative media. Manning and Snowden are not going to work. A lot of people in those circles see them as traitors. One of the dissident's friends specifically asked me to use somebody else.

This dissident exposed the abuse of prisoners in the Soviet Union and spent more than a decade in a jail as a result. He also has been very active in opposing Putin at great personal risk.

I can use Ai Weiwei for one, although he's nowhere near as well known as Snowden and Manning. I'm not sure Mandela is a good fit for this audience. Can anybody suggest someone else we could use?

I suppose my other option is to give up on young people and just target the conservative audience. Who would they think of as human rights heroes?
posted by Cinnamon Bear to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite



The first one includes President Abe Lincoln. The second includes Schindler. I am wondering if one of those might be more palatable?

See also: http://www.biographyonline.net/people/famous/human-rights.html
posted by Michele in California at 6:41 PM on July 6, 2016

Wikipedia has a category you might find helpful. And if your dissident's achievements meet Wikipedia's standards for notability you might make sure there's an article on him, linked to that category, to increase his profile if people reading your fundraising materials look him up (but please don't spam the category just to increase the amount of money you can raise.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:46 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think "human rights" might not be a framework that resonates with a conservative audience, and that their current heroes might not be found in that kind of history or discourse... Like I don't think that context is immediately translatable, not sure whistleblowers are positively regarded (vs hardy, optimistic leaders etc), right now. Conservatives are suspicious of anyone who undermines their valued/given order, by definition, I think :/ I mean "human rights", currently, really feels like an exclusively progressive paradigm. But I could be wrong :/

For a while at least, there were a few generations of ex Soviets who fell hard for US conservatism. Keywords would be more along the lines of "antitotalitarianism", "anticommunism", "freedom", "democracy" - ideas/people that lean on the idea of self determination and individualism and maybe hint at a certain kind of bogeyman :/ (Right now, I can't think of suitable examples, but I think that is the general family of ideas and feelings to tap. But I think you need some kind of "freedom fighter" , vs a "human rights" person.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:31 PM on July 6, 2016

George Orwell (see Homage to Catalonia where he chronicles the communist crackdown of anarchists and the Trotskyist POUM where he was in) was white anglo-saxon, anti-communist (...just not that kind of conservative anticommunist) and fairly well known.
posted by sukeban at 12:08 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

If this is an older Reagan conservative crowd, then:

Andrei Sakharov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, and the Tiananmen massacre man standing in front of tanks.
posted by clawsoon at 5:11 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much guys, we've made our choices on this and solved our writing problem, so I'm going to mark this resolved.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

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