Wednesday, January 13, 2016
A Call for Moderation and Reflection
“The highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.” (Ludwig Feuerbach)
In Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve, some 1,000 men of ‘Arab - North African’ appearance attacked female revelers and to date well over 500 criminal complaints concerning sexual assault and in some cases, rape, have been reported. Similar incidences may not have been as quantitatively ‘significant’ elsewhere but are known to have occurred throughout Europe. We are losing the battle for our human rights because the assumption of universally applied responsibilities does not exist and therefore the application of equal rights is similarly trivialized.
It is only correct that we constantly debate the balance between the Big Brother state and civil rights but protection of the individual as a cultural principle has not kept up with human rights. Thanks to the Internet, pornography, crime and terror can now be efficiently manufactured by anyone. In an age of narcissistic fulfillment personal choice and our duty to protect are no longer interdependent. I am more concerned with peoples’ freedom to conceal and thus facilitate their personal – group vendettas, misdemeanors and indiscretions through the electronic media than I am worried about the potential for government to abuse our personal electronic information. If you have something to be ashamed of don’t put it on record. The communications age has been a blessing to the narcissist whether they identify as mass killers or terrorists. Society is acclimatizing to a decremental loss in our security. But people who are isolated from electronic communication are less likely to succeed in hurting others. On the other side of the information paradigm the proper controls must be maintained to secure the protection of personal, benign information.
The social media have become a wickedly efficient resource for abusing and inciting violence across the globe in millions of postings and comments that are created every day. It is as effortless to lie as it is to tell the truth and because reality and fiction are easily manipulated the electronic media are no longer, if they were ever, a vehicle for educating us towards achieving a just society.
Basic human rights can never be geographically variable, historically justified or culturally insignificant; not in the name of multiculturalism nor in the name of political correctness. According to Wikipedia, the latest human rights fad (called ‘Intersectionality’) involves “the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination”. If words such as ‘integrity’ and ‘ethics’ are to have any meaning at all they have to be applied in equal measure. In an open ethical system intersectionality is therefore nonsense because each part of our identity is separate and as such, it cannot be interpreted hierarchically nor can it become conditioned on someone else’s interpretation of how we should interact with the different layers of our identity. When human rights become politicized they are no more than a battle of wills for a newer form of discrimination, domination and oppression. Communication becomes essentially unilateral and fetishistic.
China is the global sweatshop for the Western worlds’ cheap consumer products (as well as the source of most of our counterfeit products). Instead of crying crocodile tears for the poor foreign worker the Western World could solve its unemployment problems but it would cost each of us thousands of pounds, dollars or Euros extra, every year, by returning more expensive production to western nations from China (and elsewhere). It would be the ethical and equitable thing to do so. We keep quiet about Chinese human rights. We negotiate them away for our material comfort.
We should be questioning the Arab world about its treatment of women and children, minorities; its oppression of its workers; its colonial history and its slave-owning present. We should boycott all goods made in Pakistan and not just for its sweatshops but also for its inter-generational support for terrorism. Saudi Arabia should be an international pariah. It has provided some 100,000 million dollars in aid to Islamist institutions over the last quarter of a century and yet without its oil we would need to find a cleaner, more efficient means of meeting our energy requirements. But we keep quiet about Arab human rights violations. Left and Right negotiate away their protection for our material comfort.
Warm feelings of self-righteous anger have to be universal to be principled unless they are the product of selectively chosen, ethically fascist targeting.
We are living in an age of fear and irrationality where those who create that fear hold sway over us – see how easy it is to do nothing about North Korea even as it enslaves its own citizens and threatens nuclear annihilation against its American rival.
According to the United Nations, between March 2011 and August 2015 250,000 people were killed in the Syrian Civil War. Other estimates place the number of dead men, women and children at 350,000. How many deaths were there in the Arab-Israeli conflict between 1920 and 2015? Some 115,000 people died. In 2015 Switzerland called a meeting of the Geneva Convention for only the third time in its history. The UK, France, Germany and another 123 signatory states to the Fourth Geneva Convention assembled in order to condemn Israel. The Fourth Geneva Convention concerns itself with the protection of civilian persons in time of war. Israel stood alone in the dock on all three occasions. Make sense? Of course it doesn’t. Sudan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Brazil are just four of the dozens of conflict nations that have produced acts of genocide since the end of World War 2. Syria is almost a side-show to what has become a tragic litany of intentionally ignored blood letting. So if Israel is not there to be periodically pilloried the UN stands for nothing other than its own corpulent, self-congratulatory but essentially meaningless existence. Under those conditions, the United Nations Organisation exists only to serve its delegates with an endless merry go-round of pork barrel political extravaganzas. The UN is nothing save political theatre as tragic farce. UN activities cost a few Western nations some 40,000 million dollars annually. How else to justify doing nothing most of the time against the most heinous crimes committed in plain view unless there is an Israel to obsess about to the exclusion of everything else?
Human Rights are a geographically variable commodity because we live in a political world. Our politicians and academics, our journalists and our charity workers, our bureaucrats and our social activists are human beings. They are prejudiced, racist, and guided by ego. We give them credit for altruism when their endeavors are inevitably driven by power and greed. What frightens them most are controls that limit their freedom and if limiting ours helps them to keep theirs, they will embrace populism, incitement and selective censorship to do so.
The only thing protecting us from them is that we do not keep quiet when we feel threatened by their excesses. But we are losing that fight too because it is easy to be selective about what is important to us while ignoring the ever spreading injustice that results from equalities unequal application.
Cologne was not a New Years Eve aberration. It was a symptom of our accelerating decline.