The Pot and The KettleT. SHER SINGH
Friday, July 6, 2012
News reports yesterday told us that Syria is bidding for a place on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Outrageous, isn’t it?
The sheer gumption! Even as they commit horrific crimes against their own people and against humanity.
I join every expression of outrage, and support every attempt to block this cynical move on the part of a criminal regime to undermine the international body of nations.
Having said that - unequivocally and without any reservations - I should add, however, that I am troubled by the source of the loudest and hoarsest denunciations of Syria, not because I disagree with their positions - I agree with them completely! - but by the fact that few of them carry even a smidgen of moral weight.
There is good reason why our scriptures and our secular literature, our lore and our folk wisdom, even our laws and the courts that enforce them, tell us without mincing any words, that we are wasting our time and squandering our credibilty if we point a finger at any one while our own hands are 'dirty'.
That’s exactly what a principle of law - the very same system of Law that governs all of civilized society today - says: don’t come to court for relief with dirty hands.
The Christian Bible, like all other scriptures and books of wisdom, quotes Jesus as saying: “Who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone …“
A popular adage reminds us: “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones …”
Each society, each culture, each language, has its own colourful ways of warning us of the perils of a kettle calling the pot black.
None suggest that the pot isn’t black. But all point out that it is futile to accuse or blame the pot, or take it to task for being black, if you yourself are soiled.
Simple. Not too complicated. No exceptions. No escape or exculpatory or notwithstanding clauses.
Sure, Syria is black … as hell!
But we need someone clean, someone without sin, especially one without the same or a more grievous sin, to throw the first stone.
I note Israel, Israelis and their apologists have been the loudest in self-righteous indignation. One routine mercenary source of daily outrage freely refers to the “blood-soaked Syrian regime.”
Another loud-mouth calls the “murderous regime” the “theatre of the absurd.”
I agree with the words of both, but am reminded of the old adage: “mooh meh raam, bagal meh chhoori!” - “With God on their lips, and a knife hidden behind their back!”
I agree, Syria shouldn’t be allowed to touch a human rights panel with a barge pole.
But would I rather have Israel formulating our principles of human rights and enforcing them?
The same government that has terrorized and brutalized a whole people for half-a-century, and continues to do so every minute of every hour of every day. Are Israel’s crimes any nicer than Syria’s? You be the judge!
The U.S.? With Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and Iraq and Afghanistan in its closet? With its history of slavery and the government sanctioned mass murders of its native populations? Are they, the Americans, qualified to guide the ship of human rights?
Canada? Look at what it continues to do to its own First Nation and Inuit citizens, and you’ll be able to see if it makes the cut.
India? It wouldn’t know human rights if it was an inch from its face in broad daylight!
Britain? Does anyone really believe that what Britain did on the Indian subcontinent - or in any of its other colonies, for that matter - was any nicer or better justified than what Syria is doing today?
Germany? It murdered six million innocent Jews in cold blood, and the blood hasn’t even dried yet.
France? Belgium? Spain? Portugal? Japan? China? Italy? Russia?
Does any one of them come with clean hands?
Is any one of these pots - or any others in the pantry - any cleaner than the kettle?
Is any nation in the world in a position to take over the helm of human rights today and do it with clean hands, with a clean conscience?
The very same activists and brilliant minds who are jumping up and down today in all-consuming indignation will also tell you that any road to recovery and healing begins with public acknowledgement of your crimes.
Where should we begin?
Who will be the first one to …?
Conversation about this article
1: Dr.Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 06, 2012, 11:38 AM.
I understand the message the author is trying to convey. However, I would endorse US, Germany and Canada any time to lead the UN Human Rights Council at this moment in history despite these countries having the kind of disappointing history the author has highlighted. We should not forget that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies sometimes hire check-forgers and crooks to track down other check-forgers and crooks, but I don't think this idea will work with Syria becoming a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Unfortunately, now almost everyday, we are asked to make choices as to "who is less bad" or who is the "lesser evil" rather than "who is better" - such sentiment is being portrayed everyday in politics and institutions of significance. This race-to-the-bottom mentality has to change to get us into a race to the top if our future generations (and our planet) have to have a bright and sustainable future.
2: Harjit Kaur (New York, U.S.A.), July 06, 2012, 11:53 AM.
As long as concerns for human rights can be switched on and off by the world's leaders, depending on what is most expedient for themselves at any given moment, nations ruled by anarchy and mayhem will follow the example of the so-called civilized nations. Ultimately, it's in the bailiwick of the nations in power to correct the situation ... by first correcting themselves.
3: Waryam Singh (Delhi, India ), July 06, 2012, 12:23 PM.
The West, eager to do trade in much-populated India, finds itself blind to the horrendous human rights violations that go on in this country. But the oil in the Middle-East is an easy steal, so it is okay for the West to express outrage at the very same human rights violations there, and use it as an excuse to pounce on the wrong-doers (and flatten the landscape while at it, no problem)! I too worry as to who is the ultimate culprit ... the perpetrator of wrongs or the one who protects the wrong-doer, keeping an eye on his own advantage?
4: Kiran D. Kaur (Illinois, U.S.A.), July 06, 2012, 1:36 PM.
Of course I's rather have the likes of the U.S., U.K., and Canada to protect my human rights, instead of anyone in the Middle-east (including Israel) or Asia (including India). But in making that choice, why do I feel like the poor and helpless Italian immigrant who felt compelled turned to the local mafiosi godfather for protection? - he was, after all, a 'better' man!