June 10, 2005

Two Observations

1. Amnesty International is probably doing more for the human rights situation in any given country than you are, unless you've actually won the Nobel Peace Prize. Complaining that they are also paying attention to some other human rights abuse just makes you look bad. (Pretending that the other human rights abuse doesn't exist, or that we don't know it exists, makes you look worse, but that's another lesson.)

2. You're not in much of a position to criticize Amnesty International's careless use of the word 'gulag' if your own bloody site is called samizdata.

(link via fortuna, who has a good point.)

Posted by Matt Weiner at June 10, 2005 09:13 AM

From samizdata's link on Zimbabwe

-Why can I not hear the snarls of fury from the alphabet soup of NGOs?

From an AI report

-In 2004 the government introduced legislation that, if enforced, would ban international human rights organizations from operating in Zimbabwe and could be used to close down or severely restrict the work of national human rights organizations. Despite criticism from human rights groups worldwide, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Bill was passed by Zimbabwe’s Parliament on 9 December 2004.

If the NGO's are so unconcered about Zimbabwe why would Zimbabwe pass an "NGO bill" shuting them down.

Posted by: joe o at June 10, 2005 10:36 AM

I think the 4th comment down on 'Samizdata' says it all:

"If you've got a spare gun Perry I'll go out there with you."

My prediction: Perry and the commenter do not actually join up with the MDC. (It probably wouldn't be a good thing even if they did, true.)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at June 10, 2005 11:33 AM

"You're not in much of a position to criticize Amnesty International's careless use of the word 'gulag' if your own bloody site is called samizdata"

And why is that? We at least have people who were disidents who actually lived and worked under communism writing for us, plus we say the things statists of both left and right would rather not have said, so I fail to see how we are ill named.

Posted by: Perry de Havilland at June 14, 2005 11:31 AM

Oh, and as I said in our comments:

"To be fair to Amnesty International, I am aware they have spoken out against Mugabe, it is just that a great deal more seems to have gone into their condemnations of the rather less drastic situation in Guantanamo Bay. Of course it could be that it is more the media's fault for giving so few column inches to what they say about Zimbabwe compared to something involving the US."

Posted by: Perry de Havilland at June 14, 2005 11:34 AM

You're not exactly subject to state censorship, are you? If anything written by anyone who was once a dissident counts as Samizdata, then any prison in which people are locked up without the hope of fair trial (and in some cases hidden from human rights organizations) counts as a Gulag.

I could say something similar about your casual use of 'statist', which seems designed to equate ordinary social democrats (and, I suspect, American liberals like me) with fascists and Stalinists.

I missed that bit in comments--the first few comments were so jocularly racist I stopped reading. Looking at the original speech, it seems that Khan called out two countries by name--Sudan, where the worst human rights abuses are currently going on, and the United States, which is currently doing the most damage to human rights. That seems appropriate--can't name off every country.

Why do I say the US is doing the most harm to the idea of human rights? It is the country that sets the example for the Free World to follow, and yet is doing its best to declare that its own human rights abuses are beyond scrutiny. I don't think we should underestimate the harm to the idea of human rights that comes from this cavalier attitude--dictators the world over are probably preparing to point to the US's current conduct as an excuse for their own. (This is supposed to echo fortuna's point.)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at June 14, 2005 12:21 PM