On cultural clashes in transnational activism: AI versus AIUSA in the 1970s

My conclusions are that the US will not be an area where groups will spring up; Americans do not, by tradition petition foreign governments or intervene on behalf of individuals who have been tried, sentenced and imprisoned. Nor are [US] prisoners men who can be aided to any extent by AI [Amnesty International]. None-the-less some group can and should be organized, funds can and should be raised, and information can be gathered by someone acting as liaison between AI and US civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and sent to AI headquarters in London. I promised to do what I can.

–Michael Straight, a former communist spy, who would later go on to be AIUSA’s first chair in 1961, quoted in “Exporting Amnesty International to the United States: Transatlantic Human Rights Activisms in the 1960s

History is funny. Because now AIUSA is Amnesty’s largest country section, with nearly 250,000 members. #americanexceptionalism

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