Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Talking About Human Rights

For John, BLUFAre human rights universal?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Originally in the Spectator magazine and now in the blog of Journalist Nick Cohen, we have "Sweden’s feminist foreign minister hammered for confronting Saudi Arabia".

This is about Ms Margot Wallström, Sweden's Foreign Minister.  She was seen as being undiplomatic in mentioning that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a terrible civil rights record—by Western standards.  There was a reaction by KSA and it appeared that economic factors forced the Foreign Minister to back off, to include an apology.  As the writer points out, the Western media didn't support Ms Wallström in her accusations.  Apparently suppression of Women is not a big deal if it happens outside the collection of nations known as the West.

Yet there is no ‘Wallström affair’.  Outside Sweden, the western media has barely covered the story, and Sweden’s EU allies have shown no inclination whatsoever to support her.  A small Scandinavian nation faces sanctions, accusations of Islamophobia and maybe worse to come, and everyone stays silent.  As so often, the scandal is that there isn’t a scandal.

It is a sign of how upside-down modern politics has become that one assumes that a politician who defends freedom of speech and women’s rights in the Arab world must be some kind of muscular liberal, or neocon, or perhaps a supporter of one of Scandinavia’s new populist right-wing parties whose commitment to human rights is merely a cover for anti-Muslim hatred.  But Margot Wallström is that modern rarity: a left-wing politician who goes where her principles take her.

Here is the final, depressing paragraph:
Finally, and most revealingly in my opinion, the non-affair shows us that the rights of women always come last.  To be sure, there are Twitter storms about sexist men and media feeding frenzies whenever a public figure uses ‘inappropriate language’.  But when a politician tries to campaign for the rights of women suffering under a brutally misogynistic clerical culture she isn’t cheered on but met with an embarrassed and hugely revealing silence.
Regards  —  Cliff

  So, it is Islamophobic to say that women's rights are being suppressed in this or that Muslim nation?

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