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Motes and Beams

Or perhaps it’s the way the BBC skewed this.

It’s about “human rights” and it would appear the the UN has been looking through the wrong end of the telescope (again).

“As the world’s most powerful state, the USA sets the standard for government behaviour globally,” the report says.

It notes that Washington “had distinguished itself in recent years through its defiance of international law”.

Whether or not you thing that Guantanmo Bay should be closed down to regard the US as a major human rights violator demonstrates an appalling lack of perspective.

The USA isn’t perfect (is anywhere?) but they’re Accrington Stanley compared to the AC Milans and Manchester Uniteds when it comes to human right violations out there.

It’s OK to be gay in the US. In Iran it’s a capital offense.

For the slightly bonkers faith of Falun Gong the Chinese will persecute you. It’s perfectly legal in the US.

It’s OK to change your religion in the US. In much of the Muslim world that’s illegal. This right is specifically included in the UN’s own Universal Declaration on Human Rights but that detail doesn’t appear to concern them.

There is all manner of chaos, hardship and slaughter, rape and pillage going on in the world today. Comrade Bob is systematically starving an entire once prosperous nation, The Burmese Junta have shown themselves recently to be even more dispiccable than previously thought (That’s a World Cup winning performance), Hamas and Fatah (the evil Tweedledums and Tweedledees of the Middle East are keeping the Gaza Strip a truly epic shit-hole and a complete mad man in Tehran is calling for a sovereign nation to be “wiped from the page of time”.

All of this is, obviously, clearly the fault of America.

I think the world has more pressing injustices than Guantanamo, the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (he would have got a lot worse from me) and extraordinary renditions (Kyung Wha Chung at the top of her game?).

It’s well past time for the civilised nations of the world to quit the UN. They can have the building at a market rate. They can keep Manhatten’s up-scale restaurants and high-class hookers in the manner to which they have become accustomed and they can argue the toss to their hearts content. It will give them an interest in life.

9 Comments

  1. Andrew McG says:

    I think the first paragraph you quote pretty much justifies the approach. It’s not that the USA is worse than, say Burma. It’s that the USA is an example that other countries will refer to – “it’s OK for us to do this – the USA does it” is a more plausible defence of nasty behaviour than is “Iran does it”.

  2. CountingCats says:

    “it’s OK for us to do this – the USA does it”

    I understand your point, but there is a very good answer to that one – You do what is right regardless of what others do.

    The US is not perfect, only the best.

  3. NickM says:

    Andrew,
    A large part of my point was that there are degrees of liberty. A large number of people get het up on stuff and lose the big picture.

    It’s also about the weird views people have on America.

    I’m a Brit. Here’s a thought experiment. I state at a party or something that I campaign actively against the death penalty. Most people will automatically think of death row in the States and old Sparky. They’ll probably mention The Green Mile. They will not mention Pakistan or China or Iran or Saudi.

    The USA actually executes very few people per capita compared to them. I would much rather take my chances with it’s legal system than any of the above. Also note there are far fewer capital crimes in the USA than the others. The Saudis still execute people for “sorcery” (which could be anything).

    I am ambivalent about the death penalty and don’t campaign on it (like I said, that’s a thought experiment) but if I did the USA wouldn’t be target #1 as it is for a great many folks here. Most people here don’t even know that Pakistan executes people and on much less safe convictions than in the States, usually.

    I guess another way of looking at is how free you feel in a country. I feel very free in the USA (been ther a few times) but I know full well that doesn’t apply to all sorts of backwards hell-holes around the world. I have photographed US Navy aircraft whizzing about. I spoke with a US Navy Lt about it. He thought it cool that I liked “his” Hornets. Imagine doing that in Syria? Of course the chat didn’t reveal any classified details (and I wouldn’t have asked such questions) but in many countries I would have been dragged off and regarded as James Bond poking my nose in.

  4. RAB says:

    Yes quite right Nick.

    Even our so called brothers in the European Union

    can get unbelievably twitchy.

    Rembember the Plane spotters in Greece?

    I have been to Northern Cyprus a lot, and there are thousands and thousands of Turkish troops there in camps all over the place.
    You often come across signs in various places saying no photography allowed.

    I was talking to an off duty officer of my aquaintance over a Raki or two about it one night..

    Just ignore them my friend
    they are crazy!
    Why would you, an English, want to spy on us?

    All you have to do is look up the invoices
    You sold most of the stuff to us in the first place !

  5. Andrew McG says:

    You do what is right regardless of what others do.
    I don’t agree. Morality doesn’t exist outside of a social context. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for controversy within a social context, or that there ‘s no scope for personal convictions, but “prevailing standards” will always have some influence.

  6. #1 proof that the U.S. can’t be taken seriously as a human rights violator:

    Can you imagine any other nation among those listed above acting as host nation for the U.N. and allowing reports like that one to be published?

  7. NickM says:

    Andrew,
    You are wrong. Morality is about what is right or wrong objectively. “Prevailing standards” is not. They are not the same thing. Are you arguing that because in Yemen it is the prevailing standard to have your daughter’s clitoris excised that makes it right. Murder, rape, theft and assault are objectively wrong. Regardless of what the “prevailing standards” are.

    Whited,
    Good point. But there is a simpler proof. I have spent about 4 months of my life in the USA on various trips and travelled widely and I never once (apart from by the TSA) felt my rights infringed upon.

  8. CountingCats says:

    Andrew,
    I would in fact argue that ‘prevailing standards’ have destroyed Arab Islamic Civilisations. The concepts of morality as preached by Islam, which include the acceptability of dishonesty, lying, theft, deceit and deceitful violence, have peverted Arab society in a manner we see nowhere else. In no other civilised society are these acceptable, even other Islamic ones.

  9. Sunfish says:

    Nick,
    I had my rights infringed upon. I had to fill out a government-mandated transfer record form every time I bought a gun from a dealer, and fill out another (stack of) form(s) every year for the tax man. To say nothing of having a fingerprint scanned and new picture taken when I added a motorcycle endorsement to my driver’s license a few years ago. And don’t get me started on the Thousands Standing Around.

    Of course, this is “infringement” in the US but I can only imagine how many people in England, France, Pakistan, or Tuvalu would kill or at least maim to have the problems I have.

    For what it’s worth: female circumcision is actually written into our state’s law as felony child abuse (“knowingly causing an unjustifiable risk of harm to a child, resulting in serious bodily injury” is how the statute reads). I suppose it might be an infringement (in someone’s eyes) upon dad’s religious freedom, but I doubt the daughter will complain.

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