Thursday, August 21, 2008
The HRC--it puzzles me.
Now, I'm the kind of civil liberties, Anmesty International, warm and fuzzy liberal who usually likes the UN and thinks the Human Rights Council is not a bad idea. Somebody has to be for Human Rights, right? They have done very valuable research and published useful data about torture and women's rights and refugees. They generally do good things.
But I was recently made aware of this business of the HRC deciding that discussing the issue of religion is taboo--, as far as I can tell, so as not to offend people who are violating human rights on the basis of religion. Let me just repeat that: they don't want to offend people who are violating human rights on the basis of their religion. Helpfully, we know what religion they are talking about. So they are already singling out the Laws About Which Will Not be Spoken--shari'a.
Now, I get that not all practitioners of the Islamic faith are in favor of shari'a law; heck, I'd probably even bet that most really aren't, because the star chamber courts and beheadings and stoning and such that you see out of, say, Saudi Arabia, are quite frightful to most thinking, feeling people. And because these people think and feel, I do not see how they could be offended about discussion of religion in respects to human rights abuses, because for a certainty, it should gall those moderates to know that bad things are done in the name of their creed, and they should repudiate such abuse because it stains their own, peaceful, non-abusive practice of their faith.
It actually strikes me as a bit insulting, as if they are implying, "Well, obviously, a faith could have violence and unfairness and disrespect of persons as its cornerstone and legal basis, but they are entitled to it." Which insults Islam, assuming that the excesses of these practices are instrinsic to that creed, when they are not, and it's patronizing, assuming persons of that faith can not handle criticism, and effectively negates the Council's purpose in the first place, which would be to see that people are not abused and that their rights aren't violated in that it hamstrings them from discussions of the vile justifications used by certain oppressive governments--that they do these opressive things because God wants them to. It's like several vast misunderstandings are going on at once.
Although discussion of religion and how it impacts government and especially issues of laws and rights of the individuals is fraught with the potential for offense, it's nonetheless important to examine the ideological basis upon which rights violations are made. In other words, I think it's valuable to persue an inquiry upon whether religion is just a sorry excuse for oppression, and people should actually respect their fellow man first and foremost. I think an offense to ideology is trumped by the real, grave damage done to human lives and welfare, by ignoring the unscrupulous excesses of governments that are shamefully fig-leafed by words based upon deeply held beliefs, that are cynically and faithlessly being used.