Moving on
Towards Better Times...?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Human Rights and Opposition to the War in Iraq

It seems to be a bit of a slow day for news today. There is the upcoming summit in Malta for Commonwealth leaders, at which there will be discussions on a possible make-or-break deal at world trade negotiations to be held in Hong Kong next month. But we just know that Tony Blair’s original call to end World poverty will be cast aside (probably by Blair too) in the light of whatever happens to be a good excuse for a ‘detour’ on that occasion. I could be wrong, but I won’t be holding my breath to see if I am.

No, there is nothing which has captured my imagination today, apart from the comment to my previous post – on Doug Ireland’s ‘outing’ of George Galloway’s ‘Respect’ party as being homophobic, and my suspicions as to Ireland’s ulterior motives behind his article.

The comment was made by Brett Lock. He said:

Why would Tatchell be using gay rights as an excuse for attacking Galloway's opposition the the Iraq war when tatchell himself is an opponent of the Iraq war?It seems to me that there is a low-level homophobia that holds that gay rights concerns can never be the central issue in and of itself and when expressed must always be a part of another "agenda".
I was going to answer in the comments section, but I thought this deserved a longer reply.

Well, first of all, my point was not to that Tatchell was attacking Galloway’s opposition to the Iraq war and I don’t think that anything I said could have been taken this way. I know that Tatchell is opposed to the Iraq war, just as most other thinking people are.

I actually have a great deal of respect for Peter Tatchell. He has strong views. He is committed to the cause of gay rights and he lets nothing or no one stand in the way of his arguments. I do not agree with everything Tatchell says or does, and I particularly did not agree with his aggressive ideas on ‘outing’ ‘closet homosexuals’, because this made no allowance for individual reasons for people to hide their sexuality, and of course there are many reasons for this. But I admire anyone who sticks by their political guns, so to speak.

No, my point was that Ireland, not Tatchell, had a hidden agenda for his post and also to attack his use of what he considered to be ‘evidence’ for his arguments. I am always suspicious when someone says “I am opposed to ….. but…”, because one knows that the person is then going to provide (what they think to be) a strong case in opposition to that first statement. But Ireland never even got that far. His argument was based upon hearsay and un-researched ‘facts’. It also provoked my suspicions that it was a ‘set-up’ post, designed to invalidate the arguments of those opposed to the Iraq war and particularly those from what Ireland saw as ‘the political left’.

My comments on gaynews and their concentration on the homophobia and anti-feminism within Islamic teachings, when other religions, including Christianity, also hold these views within their religious texts, were about my thoughts that this concentration on Islam as ‘the bad guy’ was too singular and, I think, discriminatory in its own right. And this is from a group that has my respect for their campaigns on behalf of human rights. In this time when Muslims in the Western World are being stereotyped and stigmatized as ‘fanatics’, I find it disappointing that gaynews finds it necessary to outline these very singular views.

However, I can understand how Brett Lock feels that homophobia is being sidelined yet again by a party that was supposed to be on the side of those suffering oppression. I can understand his anger. As a feminist I have felt anger many times when women’s rights have been cast aside on behalf of ‘the greater good’. I also share concerns about the oppressive nature of some interpretations of Islam. But I see these as being interpreted by those living in a world dominated by straight men (as were early writings on Christianity) and blame the interpreters, not the religion, and certainly not its followers.

As to homophobia (or women’s rights) being sidelined, well, yes, it seems that this is exactly what is happening here. But that doesn’t make me like Ireland’s argument any better for that fact. It is still a poor, suspiciously slanted piece of work. But I take the point that in sidelining certain human rights issues, we run the risk that further attacks on human rights can, and will, be made. The worst example of this was probably when the plights of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, Socialists and the so-called ‘feeble-minded’ in Nazi Germany were largely ignored until after the war against German was won. Because the biggest threat to the World was seen as Nazi Germany as a country and a power. Its human rights crimes, which were almost endless, were punished (in some, but not in all cases) after the war had been won.

Some would say that this simply was not good enough and, considering the millions tortured and murdered, this argument rings true. But what was the alternative until German was beaten? This does not make it right, but it does consider the wider implications.

The same could be said to be true today. In the USA there is a cowboy holding power, aided and abetted by those who are (most probably) much cleverer than him, and whose agenda is World domination for the USA, nothing more, nothing less. Whatever the cost. The war in Iraq, and the threat that moves will soon be made on Iran and Syria are symptoms of this. These men and their plans are putting the freedom and safety of the whole World at stake. They have to be stopped before it’s too late. And the way to do this is to make people aware of what these men are about and hope that they can take political action to stop them.

And if some human rights issues take a back seat while this is happening, it is regrettable. I hope it doesn’t have to come to that. But I have a suspicion that it will.

posted by summersun70 at 11:34 AM


Blogger Brett Lock said...

You say: "I do not agree with everything Tatchell says or does, and I particularly did not agree with his aggressive ideas on ‘outing’ ‘closet homosexuals’, because this made no allowance for individual reasons for people to hide their sexuality, and of course there are many reasons for this. But I admire anyone who sticks by their political guns, so to speak."

Who has Peter Tatchell outed? This is just an image generated by the tabloid media, who *have* actually outed people. It is not now, nor has it ever been OutRage! or Tatchell's policy to 'out' people who want to keep their sexuality private - unless they are in a position of power and abusing that power to persecute other gay people to draw attention away from their own sexuality. But these are very rare cases... and by "rare" I mean like one a decade, if that.

12:13 PM  

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