Thursday, December 27, 2012
Africa and the Failure of the Human Rights Paradigm
The international liberal human rights paradigm has had limited success. One big problem is that it has never been universal. Almost nobody, certainly not most liberals supported human rights for ethnic Germans in 1945 or Palestinians in 1948. But, even when there is not open support of human rights violations against certain groups on the basis that they are "reactionary" or "Nazis" there is a general neglect of cases not considered interesting. I have looked in vain for any "liberal" or "progressive" blogs dealing with human rights or the struggle for democracy in Togo where the same family has been in control since 1967 and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters is routine. There is not much there. "Progressive" white bloggers just do not care about Togo or most of Black Africa period. It is not something that they write about very often. It simply does not interest them. So human rights causes only get promoted in those cases where the cause manages to develop a certain "coolness" factor. Something that is hard to do for most "third world people." This almost complete neglect of most of the non-white world co-exists with prolific denunciations of racism against people of color in the US, almost as if it were a totem to show how much they really do care and demonstrate just how "cool" they are. But, surely if they were truly concerned with the plight of Black people in the world then they should focus not on the US, but rather Africa. After all there are over 20 times as many Black people in Africa as in the US and the plight of the down trodden, oppressed, and poor in Africa is considerably worse than that suffered by African-Americans. Of course to do so would mean actually looking at Africans as real human beings and seeking ways of working with them to improve conditions in Africa rather than merely using the charge of racism as a weapon to hammer political opponents in the US. The first of these options requires some real thinking and work. It also takes time. The second one is easy and gets instant results. So I guess I should not be surprised that none of the big "liberal" or "progressive" blogs express much interest in Africa.