Thursday, December 02, 2010
In praise of western civilization
Like Karl Marx. Dead as well as wrong.
When Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilization he famously replied “I think it would be a good idea”
On November 30th a resolution came before the United Nations, as it does every two years, condemning extra judicial, summary, and arbitrary executions. Since 1999 the resolution has included a specific reference to “sexual orientation” as an unacceptable basis for execution. This year the UN voted to drop the reference.
Here is a list of the countries that voted to drop it
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, North Korea, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
This tells us two things; first, it tells us that the UN is surely a more useless and more insidious organisation than anyone suspected when it allows the likes of Zimbabwe and Iran to vote on human rights matters. One of the few things George W Bush got right was ignoring it. We should steer clear of this wailing chamber for despots.
Secondly it shows us just how empty Gandhi's smug little crack was. Not a single European country west of the Vistula and Carpathians voted for this amendment. For all the prattle about its religious fundamentalism the United States didn’t vote for it. South America also comes out of it pretty well too, an exception being Cuba which is a paradise for workers as long as they aren’t gay. In fact, with the exception of Russia, every single country voting for this amendment comes from the non western world notably Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The west is not perfect as demonstrated by the continuing agitation for a gay marriage amendment to the constitution in the US. But even there the kind of violent homophobia that is state sanctioned in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Bangladesh, Guyana, the Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Qatar, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda is confined to fringe weirdos like the verminous Westboro Baptist Church.
Much the same is true of women’s rights. Outside the west legal discrimination in employment or legal issues is actually the less gruesome end of a spectrum which stretches through to the grotesque extremes of genital mutilation and female infanticide. Where does that leave Gandhi? Like Marx; not only dead but wrong as well.
So we in the west deserve a pat on the back. We should ditch the misguided pseudo-historical shame and dangerous cultural relativism and say it plainly; Western civilization is the best there is and everyone would be better off with more of it.