Fisk, Still Stuck in Fudge
The larger part of the article is concerned with less flattering quotes from the Bible and the Quran; violent and bloody indeed. Thank God we don't take it literally, as fundamentalists on all sides have done and still do: Karen Armstrong has dealt with it so much better so many times before. Fisk, however, is arguing that we need not seek conciliation between religion and human rights; and since it is Islam that is the topic of discussion it is Islam he wants to protect from the notion of human rights. Hello? Anyone home?
Human Rights are not universal according to Fisk and the Western Judeo-Christian world shouldn’t impose its conception of Human Rights because – here it comes – the Western world itself is failing to live up to it!!
Leave aside the philosophical debate of whether Human Rights are universal, that debate is academically over for most scholars; Human Rights are universal. Fisk doesn’t even mention the philosophical reasons it shouldn’t be, he just brushes it off with a ‘we are no better’ explanation. Even if the west is not ‘better’ (and in many cases I’m arguing it is not) that by itself is not a valid argument against the idea of universal human rights; it is stupidity, at its best since two wrongs still do not make one right. Period.
The U.N. was formed after the WWII – as a reaction against war and cruelty if you so like. The guiding principles for the organization were adopted December 10, 1948; it is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Links: UN, UN, UNHCHR, Wikipedia. Getting the world together has been a struggle ever since. The 50+ year project is still an effort. For example; member-states go to war despite UN declarations opposing it; member-states known for total disrespect of Human Rights are chairing Human Right boards in the UN. Still, just because our world is not what we want it to be, we don’t give up on the principles. Right? Unless you are Fisk:
How can we suggest that a religion based on "submission" to God must itself "submit" to our happy-clappy, all-too-Western “universal human rights"? I don't know. Especially when we “Christians" have largely failed to condemn some of our own atrocities - indeed, have preferred to forget them.His argument is that the West has lost its moral compass. In some ways, perhaps it has. If so, let us help the West or anyone else willing to take it back. Universal Human Rights is not an issue of geo-politics. It has nothing to do with nation. It transcends religion. Yes, that is difficult for some Islamic scholars at Al-Azhar to grasp, just as it has been for Judeo-Christians throughout history (think Crusades). It doesn’t make it less true though. Read the charter and tell us what principle shouldn’t apply to you because you are Arab, Muslim, Chinese, Hindi, or Scientologist. Fisk is of course at the opposite end:
A hundred years of Western interference in the Middle East has left the region so cracked with fault lines and artificial frontiers and heavy with injustices that we are in no position to lecture the Islamic world on human rights and values.Not? Well, pass the lectureship to Mubarak and Ghadaffi! Finally, it is true that the West can be blamed for a lot of problems in the region. But the main problem is still the fact that people living here are not allowed to choose their own governments. If they try, they are beaten, imprisoned, sometimes executed. And it is not as if people here do not know it. It is just easier to blame someone else. It is also the line from the official propaganda machine to divert the blame. Fisk has made a career buying into it. He has as much intellectual moral weight as Galloway and Cole – which is roughly on the level of the dictators we have been discussing.