Saturday, July 02, 2005


Amnesty International was once a respected human rights organization that organized letter-writing campaigns to free prisoners of conscience and stop torture around the world. So where did AI go wrong? Back in the early 1990s Amnesty began to embrace an agenda of "social justice." Events would show how that fluffy, feel-good concept would be used to justify the goofiest notions of the Politically Correct.

Take Amnesty's coverage of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. For years the Taliban had the nasty habit of going into remote villages, dragging innocent menfolk out of their homes, and shooting them in cold blood. Life was not easy for women, but according to the Amnesty reports, it was usually men who lost life or limb during the protracted Afghani conflict. []

But one day someone noticed that women were "underrepresented" in the body counts. That's not good for feminist theory, which holds that women are always the victim in patriarchal societies. So Amnesty started its woes of women campaign. Here's an eye-witness story from its 1995 report, Women in Afghanistan: A Human Rights Catastrophe: "Fierce fighting broke out and we were all running away in the streets of Kabul...Suddenly, I noticed that my husband was not with us. I was crying hard calling out his name. A guard from one of the checkpoints came to me and told me to keep quiet. I told him that I had lost my husband."

The full account leaves the reader with the impression that the woman's grief deserves more sympathy than her husband's death. That's an abuse of the traditional notion that the taking of life is the greatest human rights violation of all.

Amnesty's 1999 report, Women in Afghanistan: Pawns in Men's Power Struggle, opens with this anti-male diatribe: "While the 'battles of death are played out by men, women have the responsibility for the battles of life.'" Try telling that to the Afghani men who were risking their all trying to protect the lives and honor of their women from the Taliban marauders. Soon, Amnesty reports would begin to downplay the tragedies that befell men. Here's a statement from the 2001 report, Afghanistan: Making Human Rights the Agenda: "During 2000, at least 15 people were executed in public, including one woman who was stoned to death." Why no mention of the sex or details of the 14 men who were executed in public?

It's hard to imagine a human rights organization, of all groups, pandering to a one-sided gender ideology. And it's difficult to believe that things could get any worse at AI. But they did. In 2001 Amnesty International hired a former UN bureaucrat named Irene Khan and anointed her with the tinpot title, Secretary General. Subsequent events would soon reveal Khan's true agenda: to turn AI into a base camp for the international radical feminist movement. Pay a visit to the Amnesty International website and you will learn that Ms. Khan has recently unveiled a campaign to stop violence. The campaign, Stop the Violence Against Women, aims to publicize the problem of domestic violence. []

So despite the fact that women are equally likely as men to commit domestic violence [], and even though men are twice as likely to die from violence-related causes [], Amnesty International has opted to mortgage the credibility of its organization with the misleading message that women are more susceptible to violence.

Referring to Amnesty's wailing about Guantanamo, the Wall Street Journal lamented AI's "moral degradation" and concluded, "A 'human rights' group that can't distinguish between Stalin's death camps and detention centers for terrorists who kill civilians can't be taken seriously." []

One might add, a human rights organization that sanitizes its reports to downplay the human rights violations against men and tailors its agenda to cater to a radical gender ideology, is a group that has lost its moral compass.

More here


Memories of slavery and Jim Crow make a sane discussion of illegal immigration likely to fall victim to cries of "racism"

Recently, a remarkable op ed piece was written in my local paper about political correctness. The author was Andrew Oldenquist, professor emeritus in Philosophy for Ohio State University. Although I disagree with Dr. Oldenquist on many subjects, his comments on politically correctness were so wise and clear that they approached what rationalist philosopher Descartes called "intuitions of pure reason."

Oldenquist began by pointing out that Germans are the most politically correct people in the world. Traumatic memories about the Nazis have impelled the Germans to fashion a set of politically correct rules against any word or deed that is reminiscent of the something the Nazis said or did. German law allows unrestricted abortion on demand of babies that are healthy and normal. However, the abortion of a radically deformed baby is forbidden because the Nazis practiced euthanasia and disposed of deformed children. Germans are embarrassed by patriotism and nationalism because Hitler abused patriotism and nationalism.

We Americans are following suit. Just as Germans are frightened of doing anything the Nazis did, many Americans are frightened of doing anything that will open them to accusations of racism. Just as Germans are uneasy about their Nazi past, many American are uneasy about their racial segregationist past. Oldenquist described in several particulars how political correctness, impelled by a fear of charges of racism, has crippled efforts to think clearly about education and improve public schools in the inner city.

America still is haunted with bad dreams from the long racial nightmare in our past. "O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space were it not that I have bad dreams" (Shakespeare's Hamlet). There is still plenty of white guilt and black bitterness hovering in the ether to give us bad dreams and hinder conversations that impinge upon race. Meanwhile, the left has discovered that the accusation of racism can be a powerful substitute for reasoned argument.

Several years ago, I wrote an essay on the problems of open borders. Not a single point I made was challenged, but four black men, all personal friends or acquaintances, accused me of racism. My rejoinder was that gratuitous insults are cheap, but responding to serious debate points with reasoned arguments requires mental effort and integrity.

But it was to no avail, of course. The accusation of racism had scuttled the conversation. None of my accusers would explain if they were in favor of open borders, and if so, why. They conveyed to me that for some inexplicable reason, I had violated a taboo for broaching the subject of immigration and being critical of open borders. How this amounted to racism was never explained, of course.

I recall the dark irrationality of this incident as a bad dream. However it furnished me with a textbook case of how political correctness closes down conversation. Our political leaders hate to talk about our open borders because they fear the accusation of racism. They are nervous and timid because they have bad dreams about the racial past of America.

The race card is only one peel on the banana of political correctness. Other peels include feminism, the gay agenda, abortion, multi-culturalism, and hostility to the European cultural past. One might slip on any of these banana peels if he attempts to explore and communicate forbidden ideas. For example, Larry Summers, President of Harvard, slipped on the banana peel of feminism, and the columns of Harvard fell on him. He has broached the subject of gender in a manner that violated the taboos of political correctness, and the campus feminists went into an hysterical rampage.

When the subject comes to immigration and open borders, the race card is the show stopper. How can we get around this irrational barrier, so we can have an honest national discussion about immigration? It won't be easy. Bad dreams of black bitterness and white guilt are still so oppressive to the national psyche that we might have to wait for another generation to pass, so that no living human can remember the American system of apartheid that was quaintly called Jim Crow.....

The Jim Crow apartheid system petered out in the North during World War II and in the South during the 1960's. As the northern factories were running overtime during the war and the white factory workers were in the military, blacks moved north by the millions to take the premium factory jobs. It was not just Rosie the Riveter who kept the factories going. It was also black sweat and muscle in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Gary, Indiana. This economic revolution brought forth extensive working class communities for blacks in large cities.

Jim Crow was busted in the North. But it lingered longer in the South, where social traditions were harder to change. Political pressure and anti-segregation laws helped to push the changes through. The southern version of Jim Crow lasted until 1965. Jim Crow-style racism has been steadily fading during the last forty years. However, remnants of the old stereotyping still lingers in the dark nooks and crannies of the culture.

The welfare state bred a new soft racism of low expectations. Black youth were granted the right to fail by virtue of being black. After all, they are the victims of racism. They were granted a free pass for their misbehavior. To blame them would mean "blaming the victim." But demanding a free pass and clinging to victimhood leads quickly to self-destruction. These ideas are as destructive to black youth as asking them to act out the Jim Crow stereotype. Our long racial nightmare goes on and on. "O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space were it not that I have bad dreams."

The people who push politically-correct rules are the new racists. Their intimidation and manipulation of whites who are afraid of being accused of racism contains within it a stereotype of the white racist. It is important to understand all the virulent strains of historical white racism, so we can laugh at the silly postmodern caricatures of the racist.

The politically-correct commissars are prone to racism towards conservative blacks. Some of the leftist political cartoons about the scholarly Condoleeza Rice look like Jim Crow stereotypes. I have black liberal friends who regard conservative blacks as traitors to their race. I like to ask them, "Do you really believe in a cultural determinism that reduces blacks to cogs in a great machine, so that all blacks must believe the same thing? Black men are men, after all, and man has a nature that transcends culture. That nature includes reason and free will and the capacity to weigh and evaluate alternative political philosophies. To claim that blacks cannot be intellectual dissenters apart from personal corruption or weakness implies that blacks do not have reason and free will. This is racism by blacks against blacks, resulting from the confusion of identity politics." The black thinker who dissents with the popular political currents of the black community and defies political correctness evinces special courage and force of mind and will, not weakness or corruption.

The reverse racism of identity politics and political correctness has replaced reasonable debate with insults based upon foolish racial stereotypes. Politically correct mischief has prevented America from having an intelligent national dialog on immigration, education, and other vital issues. Hopefully, a fuller understanding of the complex kinds of racism that have haunted America's past will help expose the bogus reverse racism that underlies some of the politically-correct taboos of the left.

Then Americans will be able to discuss immigration and open borders without guilt, bitterness, emotional blackmail, or political intimidation.

More -- much more -- here

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