Congratulations on NI 528. Excellent in so many ways. I do, however, think that the cover photo of a black carer (doctor or nurse) ought to have stated who she is, given her a name, an identity. Leaving her anonymous confirms the impression that carers, the people who serve society’s basic needs, don’t get thought of as human; they are just doing a job, over-worked and under-rated. This you are attempting to remedy.
Natalia Kaliada (Currents, NI 528) informs us that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko seeks to oppress ‘democracy (and) freedom of expression’. She says unequivocally: ‘The future of the Belarusian people is to be the youngest democracy in Europe.’
She strongly argues for sanctions on ‘state broadcaster’ Russia Today. Does that mean I can call for the Russian Federation in turn to put sanctions on the BBC, another state broadcaster, whose ‘news’ content is often little more than an orgy of neoliberal drivel?
It has always been an interesting concept, to advocate freedom of speech for everyone – except those you disagree with.
Lack of respect
The tragic story of the life of Minik and his people (Cartoon History, NI 527) made me weep with shame. Similarly, in the history of colonization and the inevitable clash of cultures that it brings, there are many examples of native peoples being treated as inferior by their captors, with little or no respect for them as human beings.
In North America in the battles of the cavalrymen with First Nations peoples, in New Zealand/Aotearoa in the Maori wars after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, and here in Australia where, after settlement, the Aboriginal people were shot down, or their drinking water was poisoned. For the Aboriginal people, the anniversary of 26 January 1788, now celebrated as Australia Day, is a ‘black day’ in their history for it marked the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Port Jackson and the end of their freedom in their own land. Their calls to change this public holiday to a different day receive no co-operation from the ruling, predominantly White government. Unfortunately, when by now we should have had an apology and a treaty, the lack of respect continues unabated.
My husband and I have closely followed what’s happening in the Middle East, ever since our first trip to Israel and the West Bank in 2009. Seeing first-hand the reality of what Palestinians go through and yet retain their dignity and tradition of hospitality is a life-changing experience.
A few points:
- Hamas won political power in Gaza in a free and fair election.
- The possibility of a Palestinian state died with Oslo. As many Palestinians have pointed out, Israel is a One State Reality. The issue then is one of human rights, of apartheid on a much crueller scale than South Africa’s, of humanitarian norms. The issue is one of humanity.
- Yes, teenager Ahed Tamini was imprisoned for slapping an Israeli soldier. She was enraged at her younger cousin being shot in the head, at close quarters.
- Each year the Israeli regime detains many hundreds of Palestinian children (see the No Way to Treat a Child campaign). Human rights groups are pleading for pressure to be put on Israel to release child detainees. They are being deliberately held in unhealthy, unsafe conditions. Already two children have contracted Covid-19.
Yet the West looks the other way.
...am a humanist.
I am an atheist, which tells you what I don’t believe in, but nothing of what I do believe in. One response to atheism is that, without divine oversight, one may as well live self-indulgently. But I believe that without a god, my ethical decisions are based on empathy and a consideration of the consequences of my actions. Expecting only one lifetime, I try to make the lives of as many people as possible as good as I can, right now. It took me years to discover that the name for such a person is a humanist.