Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Who Cares More About Human Rights?

Nidra Poller took some heat in this space recently for her articles about the Olympic torch and protesters from the French Left. Below is her response to her critics.


“You criticize protest but don’t offer any alternative”
by Nidra Poller


I love debate, and I am pleased with the debate provoked by my article “Semi-righteous indignation snuffs out the Olympic flame”. The last comment I picked up on May 5th — You criticize protest but don’t offer any alternative — is a good place to begin this follow-up article, hand-crafted for Gates of Vienna.

Stephane DiaganaFirst, let me explain that my reference to those who condemn President Sarkozy for sending troops to Afghanistan while pressuring him to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is not a distillation of varied and sundry examples, it is an indirect résumé of a serious debate between reputable intellectuals (“Ripostes,” moderated by Serge Moatti) broadcast on the serious Channel 5. In the first half hour they pronounced Afghanistan a lost cause and pushed for accommodation with the Taliban; in the second half hour they rallied to the Tibetan cause… reduced to a symbolic gesture at the Olympics. Not everyone on the panel agreed, but no one seemed to notice the contradiction between their disinterest in Afghan civil rights, replaced by a passion for Tibetan civil rights.

There are countless strategies for influencing public opinion and government decisions: self-immolation, humanocide bombing, property destruction, attacking police and international institutions; academic, political, humanitarian, and other cultural and intellectual activities; think tanks, financial operations, philosophical treatises and… waving banners and protest marching. My alternative to protest marching is, obviously, writing.

It is certainly fair play to criticize my writing. And there’s no reason why I can’t criticize protest marching. Especially when I have lived in France, world capital of protest, for over 35 years. Excuse me for boasting, but my articles on the so-called peace marches of 2003 are probably the only accurate descriptions of that jihad movement dressed in dove’s clothing.
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I also criticized Women’s Liberation (way back in the Sixties) when closet lesbians were messing with relations between men and women. And again, in subsequent phases, when ideology was pushing women into a form of libertarian sex slavery disguised as freedom. I refused the ridiculous notions about femininity being imposed by wicked society, I disagreed when women were led to believe they could use men as fertilizers and then go their merry way as blissfully single mothers. I defended maternity when Women’s Lib was trashing it.

Of course I fell for some of the balderdash and I profited from some of the liberation. It doesn’t mean that Women’s Lib was the best way to do it. Better, finer, more profound thinking might have brought better results.

Anyway, we’re always picking up the pieces of our bright ideas and our stupid ideas. By the time I’d moved to France the buzz was: un enfant si je veux quand je veux [a child if I want it when I want it]. Great ideas, yes? So what do we have today? Homosexual couples adopting children, women in their fifties suddenly realizing they want children, medically assisted conception replacing the old-fashioned mistakes that brought so many of us into this world, and Western societies falling below demographic replacement levels.

Wait a minute… before I ignite another controversy over these female problems, let me get back to Tibet.

Am I heartless if I do not fight for Tibetan autonomy? No! I don’t know enough about China, including Tibet, to have an educated opinion on the matter. But I know enough to understand that I am not an essential element in that puzzle. I don’t have to prove my bona fides by wringing my hands over Tibet when the media snap their fingers; I don’t have to disgrace myself by thinking that a bit of protest is all it takes to bring China into line. There is no merit to pretending that economic, military, and geopolitical realities do not outweigh a few weeks of Olympic flame protest. It is dishonest to drape the Olympics in noble garb as if they were the locus of Ethics.

And I do not have to bow down to the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other heroes of their persuasion. There is so much irony in the current French devotion to the Tibetan cause. Here in the land of Holy Secularism, where Christians and Jews are often ridiculed for their retrograde religious practices, battalions of Tibetan monks with prayer wheels are suddenly graced with revolutionary virtues.

This month a new cause célèbre has hit the streets: residence permits for regularly employed illegal workers. What made them suddenly come forward to demand real permits to replace the counterfeit ones they used to get hired? They do the dirty work in restaurants, hotels, and construction. They pay taxes and social security charges. A well-oiled system, we are told. As many as seven men declare their income under the name of one authentic resident. Hard to believe, but no reliable information is available.

The pressure is on the Sarkozy government to accept the fait accompli. These decent hard-working people are here, why should they have to live in the shadows? Immigration reform was high on the platform of this democratically elected government, but the champions of the illegals want to reverse that policy. Why? Because they know better. Deporting illegals is one step up from Nazism.

In a recent press conference, the president asked why employers were exploiting illegals from Sénégal, Mali, etc. when the unemployment rate for legal immigrants is 22%.

Who cares more about human rights? The president or the protesters?

In the latest turn of events, the illegals are occupying offices of the Communist-backed CGT labor union, claiming the union was exploiting their distress for its own purposes.

And if you or I say that, above and beyond the CGT and the professional protestors, other forces are exploiting these distressed immigrants…

19 comments:

unaha-closp said...

The "stuck clock" theory.

But I know enough to understand that I am not an essential element in that puzzle.

The essential element takes place locally, inside Afghanistan or Burma or Sudan or Tibet. In Afghanistan Nato has placed troops that can directly act with great effectiveness. In Tibet this cannot happen, indirect action is all that can occur due to the geopolitical reality.

I think these protest chic Leftists are wrong about almost everything and only ever offer the same ineffective vain glorious solution to all problems, but there is (as far as I can tell) no possible highly effective response to anything China does inside Tibet. I think this time the Leftist "stuck clock" solution is pretty good.

The Leftists suggest a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Olympics - some minor diplomatic indirect pressure.

If you were to be against Chinese actions in Tibet. One Child policy (forced abortions/sterilisations), mass immigration of Han into Tibetan towns, suppression of the native religion, governance by a non-responsive Beijing - sort of thing. You are against protesting the Olympics. What would be a good suggested action? Do nothing? Endorse a free trade agreement China/EU? Send a carrier group into the Taiwanese Straits?

Henrik R Clausen said...

'Human rights' were at the core of defeating the Soviet Union.

Interestingly, they are also at the heart of the founding of the European Union. Not Civil rights/liberties, human rights.

Human rights are being misused in various ways today, and I find the confidence in them to be withering. Personally, I take more interest in civil liberties by now.

Human rights is a very heavy burden to lift, and Europe seens to be increasingly alone in even desiring to do so.

Conservative Swede said...

Nidra,

Thanks for a very god article.

Henrik,

'Human rights' were at the core of defeating the Soviet Union.

'Human Rights' is what created and maintained the Soviet Union. If the phony neo-fashion concept of Human Rights had been thrown on the historical dustbin already a hundred years ago, there would never have been a Soviet empire.

Henrik R Clausen said...

CS, I know the person who held the first conference on human rights in the Soviet Union, back in '75. He was appointed Ideological enemy #1 of the Soviet Union by Isveztia, and was very thankful for the honour - no other praise came closer.

One may argue that 'human rights' was at the birth of the Soviet Union, but I belive subsidies from Imperial Germany played a more important role...

Human rights, however, are at the roots of the European Union. It will be really interesting how this plays out over the next decade. They just might fall together.

Conservative Swede said...

Henrik,

One may argue that 'human rights' was at the birth of the Soviet Union, but I belive subsidies from Imperial Germany played a more important role...

You describe World Communism as if it was not mainly ideologically driven, but a conspiracy, part of a realpolitik power game. Then you have failed to understand the enormous suggestive power of Communism, and how it's an updated version of liberalism and its natural rights paradigm. As Fjordman pointed out, Communism has never been properly defeated. Communism is alive and thriving around us. It's just very thinly disguised. Many times under the label of "Human Rights". I'm surprised that you seem to have missed that most of the time the Human Rights activists you find in the streets are self-described Communists. That Communist organizations are holding a high and pivotal presence in all these rallies/campaigns.

CS, I know the person who held the first conference on human rights in the Soviet Union, back in '75. He was appointed Ideological enemy #1 of the Soviet Union by Isveztia, and was very thankful for the honour - no other praise came closer.

There are two things strange with this paragraph. First of all you write as if you thought that the concept of human rights was invented in 1975. Surely you don't think so? Secondly, there will of course be rivalry about the proper interpretation of the myth having the highest suggestive power over the people in our civilization (compare with Sunnis vs. Shias). Communists and liberals have different interpretations of Human Rights, and will fight each other over it, and claim that the interpretation of the other is illegitimate. What's new or surprising about that?

Human Rights, as opposed to Civil Rights, is a phony propagandistic concept that can be twisted any way you want. Also it's a package of myths/attitudes that comes under many different names. Surely, people speak more of Human Rights today than 100 years ago (but this is also because they dropped discredited concepts such as World Communism), but it's the very same ideas as the ones behind Communism and radical liberalism a hundred years ago.

Henrik R Clausen said...

CS, what's significant about 1975 is that the Soviet Union was effectively granted authority over Eastern Europe - at the 'symbolic' expense of accepting to adhere to human rights. That turned into a significant challenge to the legitimacy of their rule, which contributed significantly to the collapse. Apart from the economical stuff, of course.

Human rights have worked well, up to a point, but they are fundamentally an universalist world view, which is intolerant to alternative world views. If ones' view is already 'perfect', how can one tolerate dissent?

I'm working on alternative concepts, such as basing ourselves on "European values" instead, leaving respect for other value sets to exist elsewhere.

Yes, I know about Commies, too. Too confused to be taken seriously, but they need to be challenged on sight. Keep your laser handy :)

Henrik R Clausen said...

Oh. The Communist takeover in Russia *was* part of a Realpolitik game. It was all funded and organized, including propaganda and weapons, from the German Empire. That's well documented. Lenin never was a true Russian idealist - he was a paid German agent who did exactly the damage to Russia that Germany had paid him to do.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

The EU is predicated on the concept of granting permission for "human rights" that were previously taken as inherent in the human condition. It's just another expression of the State as master of all.

The United States of America were also founded on the idea of human rights, except then they were called inalienable and were granted by God, or inherent, rather than by the state. The US constitution outlines these rights so that it cannot be used to forcibly suppress them. The EU declaration of human rights, on the other hand, implies that these rights are granted by the state and actually specifies that the state has the liberty, indeed the obligation, to take away these rights whenever it is threatened by the expression of those rights.

So there's human rights and human rights... lets assume, then, that true human rights are those things considered inherent and inviolable; the right to liberty, life, free speech and the ownership of property, which cannot be granted by the state and, in an ideal world, should not be proscribed by the state. The EU, and the soviet union before it, assumed that all such rights were handed out by the state, so their talk about "human rights" were actually grants from the state rather than controls on the state. So this, then, is generally what people talk about when they speak if "human rights" in most contexts; the grant of a reduction in state control over certain aspects of your life.

The inherent rights bound the state; the state cannot bound those rights, or they are no longer rights.

Henrik R Clausen said...

EU is founded in the wake of WWII, and I still hold that the idealism was real, almost tangible. Now it's in decay, and being exploited by all kinds of people who don't understand or respect the original intentions. Just watch what passes for 'human rights' in the UN these days...

The state has a role to play here. Not as 'granting' these rights (I prefer talking about citizens' rights instead of human rights anyway), but in protecting them.

We need institutions to protect them. Unfortunately, EU seems to fumble every time it has to try.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

In the first half hour they pronounced Afghanistan a lost cause and pushed for accommodation with the Taliban; in the second half hour they rallied to the Tibetan cause… reduced to a symbolic gesture at the Olympics. Not everyone on the panel agreed, but no one seemed to notice the contradiction between their disinterest in Afghan civil rights, replaced by a passion for Tibetan civil rights.

I don't think this is contradictory, since Afghanistan truly is a lost cause, just like Iraq. You can't help people that don't want to help themselves. Campaigning for Tibet is not likely to cause any change, but it's still far more likely than Afghanistan turning into a bastion of freedom.

ole said...

Melanie Phillips in her book "Londonistan" has something quite deep to say about the humanrights-circus.
READ IT !
The general idea of it is , that for some un-scrutable reason (the X-syndrome!) all the other ideas/ideals has become unacceptable or somehow damaged,and the humanrights-circus is then the only one left standing and capable of selling virtue-tickets.
(Actualy there is a bit of competition from another circus ,the global -warming circus, but they seem to get along just fine)
It then follows ,that everything have to be measured by its relation to this issue ,real or fabricated for the occation.
This virtue-defining magic formula can then be USED by the people that fabricate public oppinion ,to almost any imaginable purpose.
A good examble is the way it is beeing used to prevent convicted terroists/criminals from being send back to their home countries.
To any kind of common sense ,this is 100% absurd.
But, to the believers, these absurdities is a small price to pay for your ticket to GOODNESS.
To defend yourself against this brain -polution is not easy.
much better to attack their SANITY

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Nidra

This may amuse you.

About twenty years ago, one of my English neighbours (in Wales; and I'm Welsh) and friends (a really nice man) used to drive around with a sticker in his car window reading "Get the Chinese out of Tibet". Puzzled by the attitude of an Englishman in Wales towards the Chinese in Tibet, I one day asked him what he would do or say if Welsh people drove around with window stickers reading "Get the English out of Wales".

"That's different" he said in high dudgeon, absolutely unable to see the irony of what he was doing. End of friendship - not by me: by him.

You may be amused. Me? I'm still bemused. And no, I don't object to English people living in Wales. I'm Welsh and these days I live in England. The English don't object.

unaha-closp said: " ... these protest chic Leftists are wrong about almost everything and only ever offer the same ineffective vain glorious solution to all problems ... "

Well, you see unaha, when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Why on Earth do they protest at - in this case - China colonising Tibet, but call you all sorts of dirty word if you criticise the colonisation of America/Britain/Denmark/ etc. by a 7th century primitive desert culture?

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Do the Welsh object to the presence of English people in Wales? Do they see them as as conquerors and occupiers? Are the English genociding and oppressing the population of Wales? If not, then I once again don't see the supposed contradiction.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

You should see what we did to them 500 years ago.

I believe the point is that hypocrisy is rife amongst these people protesting the occupation of Tibet, who might want to consider why they aren't also protesting the occupation of various european countries by another foreign invader.

Sir Henry Morgan said...

GD(A) has it right; JCS entirely misses the point.

And JCS might like to note that the "Welsh Not" is within the memory of people alive today. May not have been an attempt to eliminate the people of Wales, but it most definitely was an attempt to eliminate the language and culture.

Today though, The Welsh Not is not.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Why on Earth do they protest at - in this case - China colonising Tibet.

I guess it's because it's risk-less. Standing up for your own country against political Islam isn't.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Criticising from afar has always been popular with people want to give their ego a boost without actually doing anything productive...

... my lord, I was just struck by the incredible irony of that statement. :D

Limpet said...

"no one [in the debate on Channel 5] seemed to notice the contradiction between their disinterest in Afghan civil rights, replaced by a passion for Tibetan civil rights."

The agitation around the Olympic flames must have been carefully prepared by Tibetan activists, which means they were not the same crowd who demonstrated against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
I think it is natural that western people would feel more sorry for the Tibetans than for the Afghans, who seem less friendly. In Tibet, it is a foreign power destroying another country. In Afghanistan, I think the taliban are not a completely foreign force, and the Afghans are not being replaced by a foreign people. I think what is at stake in Tibet is not civil rights but the survival of a people.

CarnackiUK said...

SHM:Why on Earth do they protest at - in this case - China colonising Tibet, but call you all sorts of dirty word if you criticise the colonisation of America/Britain/Denmark/ etc. by a 7th century primitive desert culture?
Part of the reason is that we - westerners, mostly white - cannot be the victims; we have to be typecast as the villains just as the most evil characters in Hollywood movies are nearly always played by British, usually English, actors.
However, causes like Tibet and Darfur give excellent opportunities to broaden the discussion. Let's add our voices to the pro-Tibet lobby, as stridently as possible. And then say 'Wow, ain't it awful what's going down in Thailand? Muslims are decapitating Buddhist monks, burning teachers alive just because they want to give girls an education. Why, it's almost WORSE than the Chinese in Tibet! And, by the way, did you know the Afghans used to be Buddhists until they were converted to Islam by force? Remember those awful pictures of the Bamyiang Buddhas being blown up, how could they do that? Why do Muslims do stuff like that?'
Let's keep adding that message every time Tibet is mentioned and we might yet see Richard Gere and Hollywood chums demonstrating about Muslim atrocities in Thailand!
The same approach can be taken with
the Darfur protests and just about every leftist/chic/moonbat cause you care to name...