I have been attending classes for two weeks now, that’s actually eight individual classes. And I’ve heard about four times that “Human rights are a Western construct.”
Each time, it has been uttered with complete seriousness by a cute, fresh-faced, curly-wurly Canadian girl. And every time I hear it, I want to scream NO! Human rights are MY RIGHTS too! They are not a Western construct, just for you, so you can go have the best education alongside the freedom to wear what you want, wherever you want, go where you want, associate with whom you want, choose what you want to do, marry whom you please, divorce whenever you like, abort if you feel you have to, watch whatever tv channels you want, eat whenever, whatever you want, read whichever blogs and newspapers you want, raise your children in whatever style you deem suitable.
Human rights are MY rights, and also, and this is news for you, curly-wurly girl, they are rights for the Afghan woman and the Sudanese boy child-soldier as well. Just as YOU have and want the right for education, so do we and they, and those others that live over there. Just as you need prescriptions drugs when you are sick, so do the Rest of Us. Just as you can drive a car, and own a car, so can we. Just as Western men know how to use guns, so do they, even though guns are a strictly Western Construct.
This sort of post-colonial guilt is really sickening- and they are so brainwashed! They sit back blithely gabbling about how nasty and patriarchal and controlling and freaky the West is, how they do not respect other cultures – without a clue how nasty other cultures can be- for them, if they get a chance.
How cannot they see that just as technology, which has sprung from the same ideological background which gave rise to human rights discourse, can be and is used by all, regardless of geographical boundaries and societies and cultures, human rights too are for all humans- and should be so. How come nobody complains of hurting the cultral snesitivities of the girls for whom schools were built, and burnt? How come when the Taliban use cars and bombs and cellpghones, nobody- lest of all the Taliban themselves- wonder whether they doing the culturally appropriate and respectful thing by using the inventions of Western technology? How come the mooolllllahs in ghom use internet and weblogs and cellphones whithout fearing their noble traditions are being corrupted and undermined by evil western influences? If science and technology, if good medicines and buildings are for eveyone, how come the underlying philisophical considerations are not? How can you eagerly grab one and push back at the other with a disdainful face?? And you, curly-wurly, how can you easily have one good for yourself, and smilingly condemn others -without even understanding what you saying- to the lack of the rights which have so informed your life that you don’t even think twice about it?
I have become something of a missionary zealot, I never thought much about my rights when I lived in Iran, when they were systematically and grossly abused every day. Now in Canada, I feel like becoming a human rights warrior. These softy curly-wurlies are the best allies the right-wing religious Iflamic fanatics could ever hope to have.