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May 25 2005

Gulag Guantánamo

Patriarchy’s Big Party Bonfire is emitting particularly toxic fumes today: I give you Amnesty International’s Report 2005. Will I spoil the ending for you if I reveal their conclusion that the global situation stinks?

The report’s introduction features remarks by AI’s secretary general, Irene Khan, who describes white male supremacist response to recent events in Darfur as “the lethal combination of indifference, erosion and impunity that marks the human rights landscape today. Human rights are not only a promise unfulfilled, they are a promise betrayed.”

Of interest is Khan’s observation that the fun-loving Christian Bush administration is doing everything in its power to globally abolish human rights by supporting the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and elsewhere. The U.S., she writes, “sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide. When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity.”

You know Patriarchy Lie #1? That’s the one that says “from here on in, us white guys will be calculating the value of various human beings, and once we act on our conclusions, you rabble will know no end of personal fulfillment!” If you believe this lie — and almost everybody does, on some level, or this shit could not continue — you know that the promise of your better life hinges on stripping essential little bits of humanity from fellow members of your species. Over the years, some of this helpful differentiating has resulted in:

  • genocides, such as that of native Americans
  • slavery, such as that of Africans in America*
  • the permanent status of women as a sex class
  • imprisonment of the mentally ill
  • vilification of the poor
  • legalized discrimination against homosexuals
  • illegal but persistent discrimination against anyone who isn’t a straight white male
  • Wal-Mart

*(In 21st century USA, genocides, like jobs, have been moved offshore, and African slaves have been replaced by Mexican illegals.)

The implementation of state-sanctioned differentiation between the value of human beings is the process by which Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot and the Hutu genocidières and Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Miloševi? and all the other best-selling murderers of the past 75 years were able to secure the misery and deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Like those guys, the Bush administration claims it’s helluva tough. It says it can distinguish between good guys and bad guys, and that if they get rid of all the bad guys, the good guys will live long and prosper. Homosexuals and Koran-readin’ terrorists and stuffy educated liberals and ugly women, prepare to be thrown!

But has the oppressor’s promise been fulfilled? Has the assault on gay marriage made straight white families richer or smarter or less obese? Has the war on drugs cured addiction? Has the torture of political prisoners made the world safe for democracy?

In other words, has the practice of differentiation procured a better life for the lucky few who manage to comply with their beloved patriarchy’s rigorous standards of homogeneity? Sure, if you count as a better life the opportunity to furnish your house with cheap crap from China, or the opportunity to go shoot motherfuckers in Iraq, or the opportunity to be taught that creationism is hard science.

So, young onions, it’s beginning to look as if patriarchy has pretty much botched shit up. 30,000 people still starve to death every day. We still have global warming. We still have Peak Oil. There’s no cure for AIDS or cancer or Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, rapists are getting government-sponsored Viagra. Awesome.

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