3/30/2006

Outragitics...What Can We Learn From Rahman?

Outrage is a curious thing. Those that have it, want others to share it. Those that see it, want it for their own agenda. But since when did outrage become a calculated, political response? I'm going to step out of my Birkenstocks a second and suggest that we should be right-mighty pissed about "Outragitics" (I used to call it Shiavotics) and suggest we look at how it contributes to dialogue's detriment. Those on the right often latch onto an 'outrage du jour' that usually has some sort of theo-political cash-cow potential. Something that will propel their broader agenda. "Propellant Outrage". Now the left, being somewhat shitty students of opportunism- turn to "The Glaring Hypocrisy" Maneuver...(Cont)


When people on the right want to talk about democracy, they turn to religious persecution examples. They then show how the atheist/liberal/devil enemy has an agenda, or the (insert other religion here) religion is intolerant of Christianity. I tried to find an example where the right rallied around people infringing on the rights of, say, Muslims, but I could use some help there. Anyone? Let's face it, persecution gets checks written and rallies the idiot demographic. Well played.

Which brings me to the other side: that we on the left turn to the Glaring Hypocrisy Maneuver. Why did we topple Saddam when there are (insert number) evil dictators? Why don't we topple oppressive regimes that are NOT threatening to embrace the Euro? Why do you care about nuclear weapons in (insert country) but not in (insert other country with nukes) Now I admit that I have done this, and many times. Why do we (crime perpetrated by the US) but then say (insert country) can't also (insert crime). Its an outrage formula, just as much as Schiavotics.

But neither approach gets to the question of exactly what basic human rights are, and what should be done about them. Both argument styles ignore what is often the issue at hand. Being able to relate an act to religious persecution is as misguided as saying that because person A was shot, we should not care about person B When indeed we should have UNIVERSAL standards of what is a human rights violation and mechanisms to enforce this understanding as a global community. We should consider either broad agreeemnts regarding people not getting shot, or accept that in some places and some times people are shot no matter what...or we should look at why people shoot in the first place. But arguing about who sold whom the gun and trained the shooter and shot this person's cousin once removed... Doesn't seem to be working for us.

America does NOT care about context!

So Rahman was not executed for his conversion to Christianity- everyone who was anyone pressured Karzai accordingly. And this is not a bad thing. But then true to script, we on the left say "Well what about the many, many OTHER executions? The treatment of women, does COndi call Karzai to express her concerns about THAT?

Its like the Schiavo case when everyone flew in to pontificate. Why don't they do this for other people, causes perhaps with other implicatios? Why do they sign things that cause hundreds of deaths but stand up there like Atticus Finch over one person?

So we are now asking these questions again, but perhaps we should be asking things like: What specifically is the relationship now between US aid and our expectations of the Karzai government? How are our concerns about human rights being addressed and can we perhaps commit to those rights in the region as well? How SPECIFICALLY do we define those rights? Can the US mandate religious freedom in theocratic societies?

And perhaps most obviously at least to me: CAN YOU EVEN HAVE DEMOCRACY IN A THEOCRATIC SOCIETY??? Does it make sense to try?

Some background on the Rahman case- Alternet's "Selective Outrage" LINK

"Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Rahman's arrest for apostasy (renunciation of faith), a crime that carries the death penalty was "beyond belief." U.S. President George W. Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the case. The New York Times opined that "the case is more than deeply troubling, it's barbaric."

"Prior to the dismissal, Bush boasted, "We have got influence in Afghanistan, and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values." In other words, the Afghan courts are free to come to their own verdict, so long as the U.S. agrees with it. On CNN's Late Edition, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., warned, "Let's hope they make the right decision. If they don't, I think there are going to be a great many problems."

Behind Roberts' words was an unmistakable threat that the United States and other Western governments would withdraw their support for the fragile Karzai government. Gary Bauer, president of the conservative group American Values, sent an email to 250,000 supporters warning that Rahman's execution would "result in a complete collapse in support for the war." The New York Times echoed these sentiments: "What's the point of the United States' propping up the government of Afghanistan if it's not even going to pretend to respect basic human rights?" The newspaper's editors threatened, "If Afghanistan wants to return to the Taliban days, it can do so without the help of the United States."

The implication is clear: By "liberating" Afghanistan, the Christian West now stakes a claim in its internal affairs. Recognizing this influence, vocal leaders have discovered a sudden interest in international law and universal values -- but it is a piecemeal recognition, avoiding the systemic issues of human rights violations seen in Afghanistan on a daily basis. Before one applauds the outcome, it is important to understand that Rahman's religious freedom case is a symptom of a much larger problem. "

17 comments:

Left of Center said...

Selective support of certain religious entities is nothing new. While these Christocrats proclaim love for all people of faith, they really only mean if you have the Old Testament as part of your religion. For example since Bush took office all Pagan/Wiccan (counselors) have been removed from the military's chaplain program.

Kvatch said...

The implication is clear: By "liberating" Afghanistan, the Christian West now stakes a claim in its internal affairs.

To me this seems to be just a modern spin on coverting by the sword. The Christian west has a long history of meddling, overtly and covertly, in the affairs of countries they "liberate". Perhaps we could characterize the modern method as: "Peace is just war by diplomatic means."

Lew Scannon said...

The US never really invades a country to set up a democracy, more often than not it invades to set up a government favorable to US corporate interests. Afghanistan was not about setting up a democracy, or even payback for 9/11, the plan was on the table a full six months before the first plane hit the tower. Overseas allies were aware of this, we needed to build a pipeline from the Caspian to the Indian Ocean, the taliban were standing in our way. Karzai, then an executive for UNOCAL, even testified before Congress in 1997 about the need for the pipeline.
I'm sure that if Rahman had decided to convert to Buddhism, there would have been no outcry by the religious right over his execution.

tp said...

You're right on, Lew.

earl bockenfeld said...

First, in a democracy you have to realize that ALL religions are equal, but one religion, with the most clout, is more equal.

Secondly, you have to realize that religious persecution takes place everywhere. Just last night, Tony Perkins was telling us how Tom (Hot-Tub) Delay is being prosecuted in his money-laundering/lobbyist trial because of his anti-abortion views. Delay and Rahman are in the same boat.

Thirdly, you have to realize that Bush is a "Crusader" for freedom anywhere in the world, because he supports freedoms so much here in the US. He's a freedom-lovin Dictator.

LILY BRANFORD said...

Oh thanks for clearing that up Earl!

They hate us for our freedom! Get with the program!

earl bockenfeld said...

Lily, I think they hate us for our freedom, "with their oil!"

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

"By "liberating" Afghanistan, the Christian West now stakes a claim in its internal affairs."

Well, duh!

We Bible-thumpers know that the whole "Jesus is coming, and soon" scam has just about reached its' maximum potential here in the West...but will be fresh news to the billions of unwashed Asian heathens!

glenda said...

And just when you want to have a military Wiccan wedding, there is no priestess to be found.

LILY BRANFORD said...

I guess they cover that in the Military PreCana program for the spouses to be... "Now might be the time to renounce Loki."

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

"since when did outrage become a calculated, political response?" ages ago, you must not have gotten the memo.

you beez singing my song here, and on top of that,any woman who wears birkenstocks is one hot bitch with me, especially if she drives a volvo and/or shops at talbots.

LILY BRANFORD said...

I traded my wagon in for a Scooby-Doo. Talbots is ok. Haven't been there in a while- I despise shopping. At least I don't wear sandals with socks, thats progress.

Yes- of course you are right on the outrage. I think we should have said "When did we stop pretending it wasn't political?????"

GraemeAnfinson said...

when they say democracy, they mean better business partners. The "Glaring Hypocrisy Maneuver" is used a lot. I constantly use it. I am beginning to wonder if some of what is categorized as "terror" is justified. Not the islamic extremist nonsense of course, but how about the groups in Africa that are attacking oil companies that have robbed them blind for years? When they go the democratic route like in Latin America, and the government takes over control of their natural resources, they get labeled as undemocratic dictators.

maybe it wil be back to the proxy wars of the Reagan era, with our terrorists against theirs. I hope not. But if the right continues to push business rights over human rights, what choice do these people have?

Rory Shock said...

I love that term Shiavotics ... I think that captures the essence of this tempest in a teapot

tp said...

She was one important vegetative woman.

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