Let us look at Robert Fisk’s argument
one more time, since blogger Sphinx
has posted a comment
saying I ought to re-read Fisk’s article
. Fisk’s argument is exactly as I laid it out. His point is that he doesn’t want leaders of regimes he despise to propagate for values that he feels are not appreciated in this part of the world. That makes him a sucker.
Fisk disagrees with the policies of ‘the Christian West;’ these are in direct conflict with his own views of how the situations in Palestine and Iraq (and many other places) should be handled. That is his opinion. For a moment, he forgets about the Eastern European and Asian countries that are part of the same treaties, forums and conflicts. But so far, so good; to this point nothing is telling me that he is not supporting Universal Human Rights. In the same way, if I disagree with Bush and Blair, I may still be able to understand that they made their choices out of concern for Human Rights, not against it. Joshka Fischer disagreed with them, and I understand that his argument was also based on the universal rights of people everywhere in the world. Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan failed in Serbia and Rwanda, but I still think they should carry on their mission for Human Rights.
That is however not how Fisk sees it. The hands of ‘the Christian West’ are sullied beyond belief and since the West no longer have any suitable people to carry the torch of Universal Human Rights, those who try should shut up. He even goes one step further: the Human Rights are not Universal after all.
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.
They are “too-Western.” But that discussion should start from the other end: if HRs are not Universal, which specific rights then are not applicable to non-Western people, e.g. Muslims, and why? In other words: “Mr. Fisk, I know you disagree with my actions but if you would be so kind and try to think of this as an intellectual discussion (see, I don’t agree with everything going on in the world either but for the sake of humanity, I am open to discussion). The answer I am demanding is to a question any moral man would be obliged to answer: if Human Rights are not Universal, tell us why that is and what rights it is you think doesn’t' apply to whom. Also, what alternative do you offer?
At some point in history, even Arab leaders must have subscribed to the idea of Human Rights because their states are part of the charters. They weren’t dishonest, were they? ‘The Western Christian World’ - despite its failures if you so like - still has a few things to say about HRs also because Arab leaders do not say it at all. They are not reluctant to promote Human Rights for religious reasons, but for political. Their power is oppressive; upheld by abusing their citizens. Speaking about HRs would be to admit mass-abuse of a whole nation.
For the Arab leaders, it is easier to hide behind religious clerics that yet haven’t dared to take on the intellectual challenge and explain what God said to the Prophet that is impossible to accomodate with UHRs. Since Fisk thinks HRs are not Universal, he doesn’t bother to go that way. It is a no-go land to re-interpret the Quran and that is the end of the story. Except of course, Westerners shouldn’t follow their tanks to our lands and tell Muslims what is right and wrong. But it is not a question of ‘the Christian West’ against the Muslim. Can I stress that enough? You will hear it from ‘the Christian West;’ because that is the only compass you have today, even if you pick it apart with all its faults. Who else is willing to propagate for HRs? It would be a suitable cause for Islam; it would fit into the idea of a global Muslim community. But we are not there yet. Rather quite far away.
Let me put it this way: “The majority of the refugees in the world are from Muslim nations. And so are the terrorists. I am not trying to lecture you, I am just asking you to recognize that this is what the world is dealing with and since one part of the world firmly believes in Universal Human Rights and you do not, how will you solve your problem, and what alternatives will you provide?”
Fisk thinks that is too much to ask, so he really is a sucker.
He has already argued along this line: “they propagate UHRs but they don’t live according to how they learn.” The answer is: That is your opinion but please remember that two wrongs do not make one right. “But they have blood on their hands.” Well, let us take them to court for that but we still owe them and the rest of the world our answer.
A point about this quote from Fisk because he is really stuck in the fudge:
…our constant, whining demands that prominent Muslims must disown the killers who take their religious texts too literally, that we have long ago lost our moral compass.
…we are in no position to lecture the Islamic world on human rights and values.
The East and the West cannot demand that religious leaders here in the Middle speak up against fundamentalists – it is an issue to be hidden behind borders according to Fisk. Thus, Egypt can demand an end to the occupation of Iraq but Spain cannot demand religious leaders to confront the arguments made by preachers of terrorism and make it clear to everybody what is acceptable according to Islam and not. Regarding Human Rights and moral values, we are in the fortunate position where people in the Middle East are several steps ahead of Mr. Fisk. No one wants to be lectured but no one minds when foreign politician are speaking up for the rights of the people in the Arab world. Most of us would like them to say it more often, and stop propping up our corrupt and oppressive regimes that can’t bother about the rights we deserve. Hint
: December 10, 1948.