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Monday, 20 April 2009

let the mud be slung

Maybe only the morally bankrupt are successful politicians or vice versa. Perhaps it is only when you leave politics, such as Jimmy Carter or Malcolm Fraser have, that you can actually do something about human rights. While you are in power, forget it. It seems that the only human rights that are of concern to any of our successful politicians are those of their own class and country, perhaps, and a swathe of the middle to upper classes muddled in a fugue of deliberate ignorance. Those classes maybe do or don't want to be ignorant, but they are definitely kept that way.

I was withholding my opinion on our minister for foreign affairs, Stephen Smith. When he was relatively silent over the massacre in Gaza, letting his representatives talk for him, I thought that maybe he was not crossing that political suicide line of actually pointing out that America's dearest friend (and the country that Kevin Rudd has in his DNA) was, again, grossly violating human rights. However, the U.S. has decided not to go to Durban 2, though they were toying with the idea of going to Durban, and even though their many human rights groups, who felt that discussions of slavery and racism should be on the table, particularly given the U.S.'s background with said slavery, thought that they should go, they decided not to. Even though the organisers of the Durban Conference (the United Nations), under extreme pressure, decided there would be no side issues, or even open discussion, pertaining to the occupation of Palestine, and any racism charges that might stem from the situation of treating people like second class citizens, and even though they wiped discussion of slavery from the agenda, and it seemed there was no way in hell Israel was even going to be mentioned, the U.S. and Australia and some other countries have finally decided not to go. Israel and Canada had made their boycott positions known long before.

According to Middle East Reality Check

"The Australian understands the Dutch will not be going to the conference and Germany is also considering a boycott after intense lobbying by Mr Smith of his European counterparts..." (Israel slur fear forces boycott, Mark Dodd).
Nice going Mr. Smith. He is a sharp dresser, but that's about the extent of respect I now have for him. His Labor colleague, Julia Irwin, perhaps the only honest politician in Australia, had this to say about Smith's position (my emphasis):

Mr Smith's argument was strongly rejected by Ms Irwin.

"It's a shame Australia will be one of a handful of nations boycotting the Durban conference," Ms Irwin said.

"Any nation which has policies which discriminate on the grounds of race or religion should not be above criticism and should not be supported by the Australian Government."
And how right she is. She will never get to be prime minister with her outspokenness, but I hope she retains her seat forever.

Australian politics of late leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. We have been the U.S.'s lackey since the end of WWII, and before that, England's, but it seemed to me there were times when we recognised fairness, human rights, and even the actual make up of the people in our population when we made decisions that affected others globally, and which affected how the global population saw us. Seems our politicians, even if they seem to lean left, are just another typical bunch of elites whose only concern is winning another term and another and another. Justice be damned. They couldn't give a shit.

The report from the Australian which MERC quotes says:

While Britain says it will be attending, the participation of countries such as Iran and Cuba, which have reputations as serial human rights violators, is likely to ensure the summit turns into an anti-Israel and anti-US slanging match.
Really, how is Iran different from Israel in this case, and how is the U.S. any different, given Guantanamo and Abu Graihb, and how is Australia any different, given its past compulsory detention for asylum seekers and off-shore processing, which has not entirely gone away? Keep in mind, Obama is keeping a lot of power, and is letting former human rights violators off the hook. Let the mud be slung, and let's get it out in the open. If we can slander all the other countries in the world, then let them do the same in return. And why do we not want to have a voice there? Why do we want to be known as the country that would not attend a conference discussing racism? What is wrong with us and the western world?

Posts on Durban (including this one) are here.

Other blogs and posts which discuss Durban in some detail are here and here.

*Note: However - please Stephen Smith, do something for this woman and her children.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr