Saturday, March 25, 2006

Double Standards, Triple Standards, Quadruple Standards


The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries.

That’s from George Orwell’s "Notes on Nationalism," first published in Polemic, in 1945.

Notes on Nationalism is a good place to start if you want to make sense of events in Afghanistan these days, perhaps especially this part: “Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. . . One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources.”

Keep that in mind when considering the case of Abdul Rahman. Afghanistan’s judiciary is notoriously corrupt, and the difficult work of clearing out the dreary old obscurantists who still infest that poor country’s court system is going to be a hard slog. In all likelihood, Rahman will be convicted in the first round, but there is an appeal process available to him, and Afghanistan’s constitution has at least vague religious-freedom guarantees.

So there’s time yet, and the last thing we should do is to play into the hands of the religious fanatics clinging to power in Afghanistan’s judiciary, who clearly want to use this case to incite Afghan nationalist sentiment against the progressive and democratic forces in that country that so desperately need our help. Right-wing Christians who have been jumping up and down about this case should be careful that they don’t get what they wish for. Before casting motes out of other people’s eyes, they should pay closer attention to what Islam actually says about these things, and they should remember their own rotten interpretations of Leviticus 18:22.

This brings us to other people in Afghanistan that Canadians should be particularly concerned about, people whose plight Montreal Simon eloquently describes.

It also reminds me that my links are short on Yanks, and I should have had this guy up ages ago. He is now.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries.

In defence of Western Countries??Come on,You can not believe that some how what is happening in Iraq or Afganistan is in defence of Western Countries.
Most of these groups you crtic are but on the fringes with little influeance.And at the end of the day they are not killing anyone nor invading any one country.
Its British and American forces that are invaded,killing and maining.
People do have a right to protest the actions of their Governments.Killing is the ultimate failure of democracy.Democracy can and never will be brought to Iraq or Afganistan by invaders no matter how "noble" their intentions.
But I will agree with the thrust of your post there are some orgs on the left that are a bit out of touch.But their numbers and influence are so minor as to be laughable.But over all most of the criticism from the "left"s been intelligent and spot on.

7:15 PM  
Blogger kid A said...

With all due respect sir, one of the things that you very neatly side step, in your constant attacks on the anti-war movement, is the issue of credibility.

If you were standing trial, and throughout your testimony, your story was constantly changing, you were seen to be intentionally lying and distorting facts, and it came out that you had been guilty of many crimes of all sorts in the past (fraud, theft, murder etc) what would happen to your credibility? I am of the belief that it would go down in flames right in front of your face, and very little of what you had to say from then on, would be taken seriously. Those listening would be simply listening for things in your statements to hang you on.

What puzzles me is why those in government are or positions of power, exempt from this type of scrutiny?

We are all expected to act as though everyday it is a completely new world and we wipe the slate clean. That is in the case of the 'good guys'. When it is the 'bad guys' we can bring up things from 400 years ago, and even then bend and twist it to meet our purpose.

If a new school is built in Iraq, everyone must say with glee " Hey, there you go, it was worth it all along, great policy!” Never mind the 100's of thousands of murdered Iraqi's, billions of dollars of oil money stolen, 16 years of bombings, constant suffering of the Iraqi people. Those things aren't permitted to be in the discussion.

You point to the fact that things are so terrible in Afghanistan as your justification for Canada's position. And you paint those who would dare question it, as weak in the knees, heartless, chickens, who don't have the moral fibre to care what happens to the struggling peoples of Afghanistan.

What I believe you conveniently leave out, is the question of credibility.

Those of us who attempt to look at the actions of Western powers objectively, see that there is a long, on going list of examples (too long to list here), which show the true intentions to be anything but good. Therefore why is it so strange that intelligent people would question our involvement and the real objectives of it?

The best way that I have heard it put, is something to the effect of - There is something called universality, the concept that says - if it is bad for them, it is bad for us, and if it is good for us, then it is good for them, and if you cannot agree to this as a basic starting point then you should just say "I am a Nazi".

This is important because, we should ask ourselves - if the Nazi's had asked Canada to commit 2000 or so troops to Nazi occupied France, for the purpose of serving along side the Nazis to help stabilize and rebuild a very troubled France, what would be our response? And more importantly why?

So the American Government are behaving like Nazi's in Iraq and in their own country for that matter, as they gradually relieve citizens of their rights, but there not so bad in Afghanistan and actually doing some really constructive things, so let's offer them our full support there, and ignore the other stuff.

Flawed logic if you ask me.

Convenient yes, but also flawed.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Nav said...

That's one of Orwell's greatest quotes, and I love your use of links.

10:50 PM  

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