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universal human rights

human rights protection united nations darfur rwanda simon tisdall western imperialismThis past week, the Guardian published two articles in support of two of the more notorious tyrants in Africa. On December 27, Simon Tisdall argued that human rights groups were unfairly demonizing Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir during the run-up to the South’s January 9th independence referendum, with little consideration of the effect this could have on the new country’s already-tenuous future.

Tisdall’s partly right: a country with minimal infrastructure, low literacy, few urban centers, an oil-based economy and a government comprised of former warlords could be a source of instability if major regional actors aren’t on the same page. That includes Bashir, who is currently under an International Criminal Court indictment for genocide, but has accepted a compromise over the oil-rich border region of Abyei and even laid out his vision of a smaller, more centralized North. For Sudan watchers, the fact that Bashir hasn’t taken things nuclear yet is encouraging, but it doesn’t erase a 20-year history of erratic and even genocidal behavior. For Tisdall it does. He opens:

Bashing Omar al-Bashir is a popular pastime in

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human rights freedom universal imperialism white man's burdenWhat happens when a "human rights activist" insists that human rights are essentially for the West and that we ought not to criticize regressive regimes too hard for failing to maintain universal standards? Once again, you've fallen for the soft bigotry of low expectations. Terry Glavin provides the analysis in The Heart Of The Matter: A Corrosive, Reactionary Parochialism On 'The Left':

The headline on Stephen Kinzer's unintentionally self-incriminating display of the rot that has eaten away at the rich world's "left" spoke sufficient volumes all by itself last week: "End Human Rights Imperialism Now". 

Apart from being a classic study in deception masquerading as revelation and self-deception masquerading as reflection (and a workshop-worthy specimen of straw-man argument, besides), what was exceptionally useful about the spectacle Kinzer made of himself was the service he provided in presenting a textbook example of the madhouse delusion that will inevitably result from the muddles of moral, epistemic and cultural relativism.

There's no point in resorting to empirically-derived evidence if you're trying to talk sense to someone whose very arguments rest on the...More >>

In her book, “The Punishment of Virtue” Sarah Chayes wrote that, “Afghanistan is a place of too many layers to give itself up to the tactics of a rushed conformity. Afghanistan only uncovers itself with intimacy. And intimacy takes time.”

Too few Canadians have attempted to peel back the layers of Afghanistan’s complexities; and have rather, swallowed whole the portrayal we are fed by our mainstream media of a dark, dangerous and backwards country. Or, many have unquestionably accepted the propaganda of the “anti-war” movement, or more often, not noticed what it is that the pacifists fail to mention, not least of which is what will happen when the international community turns its back on Afghanistan and there is more bloodshed, not less.

This situation of manipulation and misinformation has led to the viral spread and ultimate entrenchment of some persistent myths about Afghanistan and Afghans among the Canadian public. It’s hard to know where to start in attempting to debunk these myths, but I rub up most often against those regarding Afghan women. So I’ll start there, posting one popular myth every day this week, and a response to each.

Feel free to suggest specific myths you want to...More >>


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