Irony of Western human rights agenda

By Andre Vltchek (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-28 07:56
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During my recent presentation at Auckland University in New Zealand I argued that in a way the Western media are more censored and controlled than anywhere else in the world. My argument was simple: almost all media organizations in Europe and the United States are owned by large business conglomerates, so it is natural that they would never offer their pages and airtime for in-depth criticism of the system that controls them.

Linguist, philosopher and social activist Noam Chomsky, a man often described even by the Western media as one of the greatest intellectuals of our times, was more often in prison than at home during the Vietnam War because of his opposition to the unjust war.

Dissent in the West in general and in the US in particular are dealt with in determined, efficient and brutal fashion and therefore it is barely surprising that hardly anyone in the West dares to demand "regime change" or, more politely put, "an overhaul of the entire political system" openly. A person who dares to do so would never be able to hold a decent job in government or the private sector. No mainstream media outlet in the West would hire "Western dissidents".

It is actually illegal to demand "system change" in the West. While being naturalized, new US citizens are made to swear that they would, among other things, "defend the Constitution of the United States" - not the people of the US and their interest, not their well-being but the constitution. This simply means Americans cannot make change in the US' political system.

When some Cuban dissidents were bombing restaurants and hotels and others were targeting the country's leadership to overthrow the system, the West demanded that their voices be heard even though most of the Cubans supported the Cuban government.

In the last three decades China has reformed its system much more than the United States and Europe did in an entire century. If we examine closely, we will find that Western propaganda against China and some other countries is based on myths.

Many people in the US and Europe believe that they have the best political system on the planet and that by creating it they have assumed the right, and the obligation, to spread it to the rest of the world. Call it modern day crusade if you will. People who die in the process of spreading this system do not matter. The damage caused to the culture and environment, to society in general, is irrelevant.

Such myths, as is to be expected, have little factual backing. About 715 out of every 100,000 people in the US are behind bars compared with only 119 out of every 100,000 in China. This alone should silence Western human rights crusaders. But the most absurd aspect of Western criticism against China for human rights violations is the state of the post-1945 world. China has fought only two wars, both across its border, in its modern history, and has never engineered a coup or installed a puppet government in any other country.

In contrast, the US detonated 23 nuclear devices at Bikini Atoll in Micronesia (brutal experiments for the civilians), massacred tens of thousands of civilians in the Korean War and about 7 million in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, backed the murderous coup in Indonesia in 1965, which killed more than 1 million people, and the consequent invasion of East Timor, which cost the lives of about 30 percent of the population. It encouraged, organized or backed dozens of bloody coups in Latin America, including those in Chile and the Dominican Republic, and backed dozens of death squads, including those in Salvador and Nicaragua. It has done the same in African countries, too. And its occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has cost the lives of tens of thousands of people.

The millions of men, women and children who have been killed are considered by the West as "collateral damage" - a fair price for sustaining "the best economic and political system money can buy".

It is striking that in the West - the "cradle of human rights" - there is no serious discussion on whether the US and Europe have any moral mandate to criticize China's human rights record, because of the oppressively demagogic nature of their media or their deadly ignorance, or both. Writing about China, the Western media are in the habit of attaching derogatory comments even to simple everyday reports. No wonder, we find articles on railroads, medical care reforms or education peppered with "human rights".

What would be the result if the Chinese media began retaliating by adopting the same approach? Imagine a report on a new airplane developed in the US that reads something like this: "The new twin-engine passenger airplane was tested in the United States, a country that is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Libya." Or: "Tornadoes destroyed hundreds of houses in Alabama home to the unfairly privatized prison system in the US "

This, of course, is a parody. But the truth is that China has restrained itself for many years, even though the West has been criticizing it, often grudgingly. It is thus time China monitored, analyzed, compiled and published gross human rights violations in the entire Western world. This is important not just for China, but also the rest of the world.

The author is an American novelist, documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist.

(China Daily 04/28/2011 page9)