Sunday, June 24, 2007

Malkin, The Human Rights Concern Troll

By Cernig

Let's get something straight first. The picture above, of masked Iranian police beating a yound man for the crime of non-Islamic clothing and behaviour (he's wearing a soccer shirt) is of a reprehensible and horrid act of mindless repression. I'm with Michelle Malkin 100% on that.

Malkin has a bunch more pics today and you should go look at them. Especially if you are, like me, opposed to the neocon narrative for yet another U.S. war of aggression against a despicable regime that is, even so, no threat to the U.S. It's worth reminding ourselves that our purpose in opposing that narrative is not to defend a brutally repressive regime but to prevent a senseless destruction of lives that would be utterly ineffective.

Such a war would only harden that regime's determination to repress and earn it a new mandate for its existence from the very people being brutalized in Malkin's picture. It would only serve to turn their more moderate members away from any possibility of compromise. It would not end any nuclear threat nor would the people rise up to attack their own homeland while it was being attacked by a foreign superpower.

Michelle tries to deny, in advance, that she's shilling for war with Iran today:
This is not about calling for war. It’s about confronting reality, exposing the threat of sharia, and calling out libs who pay lip service to human rights only when America is accused of violating them.
But if she was really interested in human rights rather than pushing her own xenophobic and pro-war agenda, that paragraph would have mentioned the threat of extremism of any kind and calling out all those who only pay lip service to human rights when it serves their own preconceptions.

For Michelle, too, is guilty of looking the other way when it suits her. Human Rights Watch has a whole page of documents about rights violations worldwide, with scores of nations included. If Malkin wasn't being a concern troll in pursuit of the neocon agenda - an attack on Iran and general bigotry about Islam - she might have been expected to mention human rights abuses in a few of those nations over the years, whether or not they were Islamic states.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and their neighbours - the neocon's favorite little dictatorships in the former Soviet Union, where dissidents are boiled alive and minority groups massacred but where the U.S. has basing rights? Nope.

Taiwan, another neocon favorite, where children as young as 15 serve in the armed forces? Nope. (Of 10 nations which are implicated in the use of child soldiers, 9 receive U.S. military aid.)

Pakistan, ally in the "war on terror" while terrorizing its own population and banning the media from reporting on many abuses? Well yes, but it's a prominently Moslem nation...and Malkin believes the U.S. should support Pakistan's dictator in his efforts to repress his own populace's search for freedom, democracy and human rights.

Indeed, Malkin's stance on human rights is, to say the least, ambivalent. In fact, she's not above distorting the facts in pursuit of her own xenophobia or simply ignoring them when they don't conform to her narrative.

The point of her post today, supposedly, is to ask why many call attention to U.S. or British human rights abuses like torture, rendition for torture and other more domestic abuse, while ignoring Iran's crimes. The answer's pretty simple. We know Iran is guilty of massive human rights abuses, just as we know other nations are likewise guilty. But we as citizens of those nations expect the U.S. and U.K. to cleave to a higher standard and when they do not we make a noise about it.

What's Malkin's point, then, in making a noise about Iran's abuses while ignoring other nations, in particular America's? The strawman that "libs" ignore such abuses is fragile indeed given her own ommissions of righteous outrage in other cases.

The only possible answer is that she wants to continue paving the way for war with Iran by demonizing that nation above all others. I submit that where these crimes occur in other nations towards which she doesn't harbor an agenda, she doesn't care one whit. She's a concern troll and a hypocrite, pure and simple.

And while we're on the subject of Iran's annual crackdown, an astute observer might wonder why this year the crackdown seems to be more ferocious than in previous years. The NY Times has part of the answer.
For the Iranian government, the democracy fund is just one more element in an elaborate Bush administration regime-change stratagem. (“Is there even a perception that the American government has democracy in mind?” Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif, asked me recently in New York. “Except among a few dreamers in Eastern Europe?”) In recent months, Tehran has upped the pressure on any citizens who might conceivably be linked to the democracy fund and, by extension, on civil society at large, making the mere prospect of American support counterproductive, even reckless.

...Many Iranians have grown paranoid about anything vaguely linked to the West. Conference and workshop attendance, travel and even e-mail and phone contact with foreign entities is suspect. In the last three months, at least three prominent NGOs have been shut down indefinitely. Kayhan, the semiofficial newspaper, editorializes almost daily about an elaborate network conspiring to topple the regime. Called “khaneh ankaboot,” or “the spider nest,” the network is reportedly bankrolled by the $75 million and includes everyone from George Soros to George W. Bush to Francis Fukuyama to dissident Iranians of all shades. In this vision, the network gets its “orders” from the Americans.

It is particularly telling, perhaps, that some of the most outspoken critics of the Iranian government have been among the most outspoken critics of the democracy fund. Activists from the journalist Emadeddin Baghi to the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi to the former political prisoner Akbar Ganji have all said thanks but no thanks. Ganji has refused three personal invitations to meet with Bush. A member of a U.S.-based institution that has received State Department financing and who works with Iranians told me that the Iranians had expressly asked not to have their cause mentioned in presidential speeches. “The propaganda campaign surrounding the launch of this campaign has meant that many of our partners are simply too afraid to work with us anymore,” she told me on condition of anonymity. “It’s had a chilling effect.”

...Suzanne Maloney was on the policy-planning staff at the State Department for two years before she left last month to take up a post at the Brookings Institution. Her experience with the Iran portfolio demonstrates some of the difficulties inherent in democracy promotion. “In a small room it sounds terrific,” she told me. “You put some money on the table, we support freedom and it gets us some points at home.” Maloney, who was one of a handful of staff members at the State Department who spoke some Farsi and had actually been to Iran, said she found herself doing a lot of damage control during her policy-planning stint: “I was worried about the safety of those on the receiving end of the funds. But I also just wondered if this was feasible. I don’t see how a U.S. government that has been absent from Tehran for 30 years is capable of formulating a program that will have a positive effect.” [All emphasis is mine - C]
Malkin's zeal for regime change in Iran is what drives her writing on the subject, just as the neocon zeal for regime change and revenge for a decades-old insult is what drives Bush administration policy. Because of that, they are inevitably part and parcel of the problem - making matters worse - rather than of the solution.

Update Larissa pwns Michelle and has a photo-challenge of her own for Malkin. Go Read.

And a commenter elsewhere brings up an intersting one - in the pics, the thugs' shirts say "Police" in English, not in Farsi. Is that standard in Iran, anyone know?

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