Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 2001-2002

This is the Global Village and we are the Village People, all of us working together for the betterment of humankind and the protection of our fragile environment. But something’s gone wrong – and it happened long before 11 September.

View from the Global Village

by Dean Braithwaite

Everywhere there’s noise. Western noise. The Coca-Colanisation continues apace and the relentless rolling out of unrestrained capitalism seems right on course to destroy us all. And now, to top it all, we’re waging a global war on terrorism.

From his little corner of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the Archbishop of Canterbury calls it a just war and pretends civilian casualties can be avoided. A just war, where US planes fly overhead and drop bombs only a stone’s throw away from scrawny little children picking leaves from sparse trees to feed to their sheep. A just war, where, in a little dirt hut only yards from the front line, an old man and his blind wife sit huddled in fear, too frail to move to safer ground. A just war providing us with the type of hunger-stricken refugees usually associated with Africa. A just war, all in the name of religion – God, Allah, whoever.

“You’re either with us or against us,” George, Tony and Hilary rejoin, implicit in their words the erroneous assertion that the only way to combat terrorism is to bomb Afghanistan. “War isn’t a matter of conscience” only goes to confirm my long-held suspicion that most politicians don’t have one.

If you happen to argue against terrorism and against this so-called war on terrorism you’re instantly rubbished, accused of supporting terrorism, likened to Nazi appeasers. Of course, Western leaders themselves are the worst appeasers: busy appeasing our previous enemies, those “renegade” states, in order to attack effectively the current one.

In overthrowing the Taliban we’ve forged alliances with a whole host of these “renegade” states: Pakistan, where Dr Yunis Shaikh was recently sentenced to death for daring to point out that Mohammed’s parents weren’t Muslims; Saudi Arabia, where people are routinely beheaded for adultery; the United Front – the so-called Northern Alliance – supporters of President Borhanuddin Rabbani’s Islamic State of Afghanistan, a state that in the early 1990s initiated such punishments under Islamic law as amputation of feet and hands, flogging and stoning to death; and Egypt, the “progressive” state that has given Mahmoud Abdel Fatah, a sixteen-year-old boy, three years’ hard labour for a “gay confession under torture”, a “situation” that the British gay Foreign Office MP Ben Bradshaw is “monitoring”. But who cares? For sure, no cathedral services, rock concerts or royal tears for any of these unfortunate souls.

Instead, Lapdog Blair bounds around the globe – preaching and moralising as he goes – conveniently forgetting a whole host of human-rights abuses, not least those in Afghanistan itself during the 1980s and 1990s that we happily fuelled by supplying ammunition to the opposing tribal groups.

Bush’s hollow claim that we are waging a war to save civilisation itself brings to mind the answer Ghandi gave when asked what he thought of Western civilisation: “It would be a good idea.”

We’re told public opinion is right behind this war on terrorism, Britain and America standing “shoulder to shoulder”. Are we prepared to take the rap for our actions, though? As most of us are ignorant of what goes on around the world in our names, probably not! Through corporate and military-led activities, the US and UK act like gangster states, ranking alongside some of the worst despotical regimes. Ask Mexican or Filipino workers, held in forced labour by American multinational companies, with none of the rights enjoyed by their Western counterparts. Or African children maimed and mutilated by weapons sold at Labour government-sponsored British arms fairs.

The Taliban regime has treated the Afghan people atrociously since seizing power in 1996 but the world just looked on. Afghanistan did not carry out the atrocities in America on 11 September. Neither America, Britain nor any other country has declared war on Afghanistan. So why are we bombing that country and its people? The answer is conflation and persuasive definition: respectively, conflating the terrorist attacks on America with hatred for the West by religious nutters in Afghanistan, and asking, “What right-minded person wouldn’t support attacking those who harbour terrorists?” “Yes, I’m right-minded, therefore I’m persuaded by the validity of your argument. Bomb the bastards!” (How about, “What wouldn’t any red-blooded male do for a night in bed with Britney Spears?” As a gay man ... Get the drift?)

For many the collapse of the Eastern Communist bloc felt like a dream. At the time President Bush spoke of a Brave New World. Today, another President Bush talks of brave things. But his isn’t a dream, it’s a nightmare.

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Created : Sunday, 2002-02-17 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
Brett Humphreys :