Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hypocrisy and human rights

Once upon a time there was a monarchy. The citizenry were divided into two distinct groups. The folks who belonged to the group the king belonged to were afforded more rights than the folks who were in the other group.

After a while the folks in that second group looked around them and decided that since no one was going to take up their cause that they would have to do it themselves. So they demonstrated and they called for basic human rights.

But the king defied them. He ordered their leaders to be arrested, jailed and tortured. Still the people carried on. They rallied for democracy. They rallied for equal rights.

But the king stood firm and ordered the army to break up the demonstrations.

More folks were arrested, jailed and tortured.

Then they got their day in court. Only the result was pre-determined. The only question was how long they would be behind bars.

Sixteen protesters were branded as terrorists and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Four others were sentenced to 10 years. Thirty others were sentenced to five years. More than a dozen of those convicted were tried in abstentia.

Now how would  a government that pats itself on the back and proclaims itself a champion of human rights deal with this king and his repressive policies? Would its president stand up and announce to the world that this type of behavior is unacceptable? Would he push for some sort of sanctions to punish the kingdom for its blatant violation of human rights? Would he seek to work with the opposition to force reforms?

Or would he sit back and do nothing for fear of pissing off a little tyrant with a whole lotta money?

If you chose the last option, you'd be right. Despite the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, President Obama carries on like nothing ever happened. You see, the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is housed in Bahrain and the last thing President Obama wants to do is raise a stink about how Bahrain treats its own residents.

Human rights mean nothing to our government. It's but a phrase bandied about when someone needs an excuse for carrying out some policy. Oh, and I guess there's that little matter of the oil under the desert, too.

If this story had come out of a country with a leftist-leaning government that refused to sacrifice the well-being of its citizens for the good of global capital, President Obama would whip himself into a frenzy telling the world how awful it is for a government to treat its citizens that way. But that so-called concern for human rights goes away in a flash when the government in question flashes cash or barrels of oil.

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