Kos and effect

There’s an interesting exchange going on over at Daily Kos following a posting by San Francisco-based gay rights activist Michael Petrelis that another gay man has apparently been hanged in Iran.

The exchange was inevitable. It is now standard fare whenever one tries to draw attention to human rights abuses in countries hostile to the UK, the US or Israel.

Blue Sky CoOp: “Why don’t you focus your human rights watch on countries the Pubes aren’t trying to go to war with? There are plenty of gay-hating nations. Why focus on Iran? Why now? You’re free to help them get America to hate Iran, so that we can go to war for fake reasons… AGAIN. But I wouldn’t. If I were you, I’d focus on someone else’s human rights abuses… until there’s no longer the danger that America might lie itself into another war.

michael1104: “They have one of the WORST human rights records. Pointing it out doesn’t mean you advocate invasion. That is the most ridiculous and intellectually bankrupt comments I have read in a long time. They don’t get a free pass just because you THINK that America will invade without any evidence.”

Blue Sky CoOp: “But that’s criminally naive in my opinion. Liberal hype of Iran’s humanitarian crimes will only strengthen the weight of evidence for war. If gay rights are important to you, there are infinite other ways to voice your opinion without strengthening the neocon hand. You can admit that or not. But if not, as I said… it’s almost criminally naive in my view.”

michael1104: “There is no other way to point out their human rights violations except…um…pointing them out! It strenghtens no neo-cons hand. America will not invade a country to aleviate human rights abuses. If that is what the US government wants to claim, the American public will not buy it. It isn’t just gay rights, for you to put your head in the sand about what goes on in Iran to avoid a war that hasn’t happenned nor can actually happen is just as criminally naive as ignoring what is going on in Darfur just because you don’t want to destabilize the region. Iran does not get a pass, China does not get a pass, no one gets a free pass.”

It sadens me that there are sections of the Left to whom the suffering of others is a mere political plaything. A pawn in a game – to be invoked or ignored as is strategically expedient in their oh-so-more-important fight against their own political opponents.

Yes, America has an ugly side. Yes. the UK has an ugly side too. But these self-described ‘progressives’ can generally go about their campaigning with the safety net of liberal democracy, the security of constitutional guarentees and protection under the rule of law and an independent judiciary.

This is demonstrably not the case for campaigners for democracy and human rights in the vast majority of countries who have hostile relations with Washington and London. Must these brave activists be denied basic solidarity and support by Left, Liberal and Progressive movements in the West because acknowledging their struggles might give comfort to ‘Bush and Blair’ or ‘The Neocons’?

Ignoring the struggles of Iranian democrats, academics, students, workers, journalists, sexual and ethnic minorities and others suffering under the boot of the Ayatollahs – and more contemptably – glossing over their suffering, is nothing short of racism. Ignoring their suffering is the equivalent of regarding their lives as expendible in a way that we’d never tolerate in our own country.

The truth is the truth. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. When it is sacrificed to convenience, somebody, somewhere, suffers.