Identity, Politics

Greatest Threat to World Democracy: Racism, Xenophobia

Speaking to the UN’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), an independent expert said in no uncertain terms, emerging worldwide trends justify “the sounding of an alarm.” Special Rapporteur Doudou Diène said that contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance “represented the most serious threat to democratic progress” in the world today.
The lengthy press release relates sentiments which are actually “old hat” to those of us who have been following the news:

Worrisome patterns included the rise in racist and xenophobic violence, the growing number of political leaders openly espousing racist or xenophobic political platforms and the defamation of religions. He also drew attention to the criminalization of immigration and asylum. Those targeted by such policies were the main victims of racism, xenophobia and intolerance, he said, namely the immigrant, the asylum seeker and the foreigner.
The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the lack of political will to combat racism and xenophobia had helped to fuel the problem. It was time for decisive action, he said. During the current General Assembly session, the Group of 77 and China would be calling for the adoption of a Durban review process, bringing the World Conference against Racism in line with other major United Nations conferences.
He added that the upsurge of intolerance, following the events of 11 September 2001, was a worrisome phenomenon, as terrorism had been equated with Islam, giving rise to racial and religious intolerance. While freedom of expression was a valuable component of democratic society, it should not infringe on the rights of others, he said.

The Committee also heard from Amada Benavides, chair of the working group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights. Ms. Benavides echoed the sentiments made famous by contemporary documentaries: the marriage of corporation and military is a match made in hell.

She highlighted the growing tendency of States to cede core military functions to private military and security companies, which operated in a legal vacuum. The complexity of the problem could be seen in situations ranging from the involvement of mercenaries in an attempted coup d’état in Equatorial Guinea to the involvement of employees of private security companies in human rights violations at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, she said. There was a need for greater regulation and monitoring of the actions of private military and security companies at the national and international level.

Not al-Qaeda, but Halliburton, not al-Zarqawi but Chavez. The greatest threat to world democratic progress is, ironically, the people who are decrying the greatest threat to world democracy.

10 thoughts on “Greatest Threat to World Democracy: Racism, Xenophobia

  1. The greatest threat is religious fundamentalism.
    Fight Fundamentalism in all its pernicious manifestations/infestations, lest it continue to be taught and embraced by our children; These religious-text-idolaters types represent everything that can go rotten with religion. And, more to the point, these people are the epitome of what it means to be a Bad_Jew — lacking empathy and an ability to engage different world-views in a non-emotional manner.
    Evil doesn’t get any more ignorant and self-righteous. Watch and be amazed at their evil-actions in the coming months and years. They’ll doom democracy in whatever local they infest.
    [email protected]

  2. Bro, please. A group of people sitting in a room praying 9 hours a day — because shouldn’t a fundamentalist be attached most acutely to their Holy Text? — does not hurt anyone. The problem is not religious observance or adherence to tradition.
    The problem is hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. These things have been allowed to infiltrate religious communities, true, but the problem is not the religion, it’s that which has been allowed to contaminate the religion.

  3. It would seem, as of late (especially in Yerushalim), the Fundamentalists are deeply cutting into their prayer-schedules, what with all the rock-throwing, burning, and hating.
    I’d have no problem with their text-worship-ways if they just kept it to that. But, alas, their hate-agenda is doing more to destroy democracy than racism/xenophobia could ever do within Israel, at least thus far.
    Celebrate Liberal, Tolerant, Inclusive Religious Thought!
    Infilitrate fundamentlist congregations and spread loving truth among their young.
    [email protected]

  4. Scripture IS loving — G-d being the source of all love — and fundamentalism, as it is the literal application of Scriptural teaching to one’s mundane life, should reflect that. The fact that it isn’t is a reflection on these particular people and not on religious fundamentalism.
    Fundamentalist congregations have already been “infiltrated” by hatred and prejudice. What is, or could be, wrong with adhering strictly to a code of law and justice instituted by G-d? Who could say that the suicide bomber, the rock thrower, the doctor killer, that these people are “adhering strictly” to their texts and emulating G-d?
    The term fundamentalist has been hijacked by the likes of Nasrallah. The Torah and other holy texts are not to blame for that.

  5. I’m still trying to see all the “loving” on the streets these past days in Yerusahlim.
    How many heradim support the present-day democratic infrastructure in Israel ? How many, if given the opportunity, would choose to institute a contemporary, non-elected theocratic council?
    Any ideas ?
    The heradim are no fans of popular democracy in Israel.
    This cultural pathology comes from their worship of texts and tradition, not G-d. Evidence? Again, visit their riots.
    Shame on them.
    Oppose them and their ideology of hate and intolerance,
    at every opportunity and neighborhood, lest they destroy what we have fought so strongly to build and preserve: A democratic Israeli State.
    [email protected]

  6. I agree that the problem isn’t the religion – obviously, most religious Jews aren’t out in the streets thowing rocks and setting fires – but Y-Love, I don’t agree that the term “fundamentalist” has been hijacked. I think that’s the correct word for anyone of any religious background who believes that there is one fundamentally correct way to read scripture: their own. A Haredi Jew who spends 9 hours a day in study and prayer, who works toward living as closely as possible within halakha, is not necessarily a fundamentalist. The Jew who says “this is what the torah says and the rest of you are wrong” is. This can be applied to any belief system.
    It bothers me intensely when I see this kind of intolerance from Jews, because after all, all of the amazing commentaries, our Talmud and Mishna, all were written by rabbis and scholars who were intellectually curious, who were fascinated by the world and wanted to discuss and write about what the torah had to say about it. They didn’t want to shut out the rest of creation; they wanted to understand it better. That spirit of torah-driven intellectual curiosity is one of the things I love most about Judaism, and it seems to me that the rock-throwers have abandoned it for an inflexible, fundamentalist view of the world.

  7. I still wonder…
    How many fundamentalists in Israel would advocate getting rid of parliamentary democracy in favour of a theocratic Greater Sanhedrin-esque type regime?
    I suspect too many.
    (And so does shabak.)
    Fear them and fight them.

  8. Issues much?
    Religious Jews pray for G-d to give us a theocracy, that of Moshiach. I can’t imagine anything else truly sufficing.
    But if there were to be a Sanhedrin, a true “fundamentalist” one that unwaveringly would adhere to all of halacha, I think you would find it much less susceptible to corruption than its modern counterpart.
    Fear and fight. Hate and fear. Precisely what is it that you call yourself combatting that such a statement doesn’t, in itself, display?

  9. It is now a good time to start shutting down state-subsidised yeshivot, as they now seem to be a destructive force within society. They evidence is now clear, and ample.

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