Category Archives: human rights

At the Métro station

Dalrymple sees several youths,

one of them with horrible rap music emanating loudly from somewhere about his person,

climb over the barriers to avoid paying for a ticket. They do so, he says, with impunity, in full view of the public and staff.

No one stops them or says anything to them; it isn’t worth the trouble. They are pleased with what they have done, an expression of the power of the powerless.

Dalrymple imagines that they

would have turned angry if anyone had said anything to them, as if their human rights were being infringed.

Fillon sounds false note of national self-congratulation

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-01-42Dalrymple observes that anyone who would be a candidate for the French presidency must write, or have ghost-written for him, a book, just as anyone who wants to be Britain’s prime minister must pretend to be a fan of some soccer team. This is not to say that the French are better at writing books than the English, or that the English are better at football than the French (for a start, English players tend to drink too much the night before the match).

Zowat elke persoon die Frans presidentskandidaat is, vindt het noodzakelijk om een boek te schrijven. Net zoals iedereen die in Groot-Brittannië premier wil worden, moet doen alsof hij voor een of ander Brits voetbalteam supportert. Dat wil niet zeggen dat de Fransen beter zijn in boeken schrijven dan de Britten, net zo min dat de Britten beter voetballen dan de Fransen. (Om te beginnen zijn Britse voetballers geneigd om veel te veel te drinken de avond voor de wedstrijd.)

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-25-51One of the things Dalrymple finds annoying in books written by French politicians who hope to win election is the tone. It is one of national self-congratulation. The books refer to France as the country of human rights, in the same way as many Britons believe that the world envies them their health. Nobody is jealous of Britons for having miserable health and terrible hospitals, and the greatest of Francophils would hardly think of France as the country of human rights.

Een van de zaken die ik irritant vind aan boeken geschreven door Franse politici die hopen om verkozen te geraken, is de toon die je er in vindt: één van nationale zelf-felicitatie. De boeken verwijzen naar Frankrijk als hét land van mensenrechten. Precies dezelfde soort van mythe als die van de Britten die geloven dat heel de wereld hen hun gezondheidszorg benijdt. Niemand is jaloers op de Britten hun miserabele gezondheidszorg en verschrikkelijke ziekenhuizen en niemand, zelfs niet de grootste francofiel in de wereld, denkt over Frankrijk als zijnde hét land van de mensenrechten.

People who love France think of her landscapes, her towns and villages, her gastronomy, her literature, her savoir-vivre, her intellectual achievements, in short, her civilisation — in fact, everything except her human rights.

Mensen die houden van Frankrijk, houden van het land omwille van haar landschappen, haar steden en dorpen, haar keuken, haar literatuur, haar savoir vivre, haar intellectuele verwezenlijkingen… Kortom omwille van haar beschaving – in feite alles, behalve haar mensenrechten.

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From P.G. Wodehouse, The Aunt and the Sluggard (1916)

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France has a ‘universal vocation’, according to François Fillon. Dalrymple is allergic to nonsense of this kind.

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Judicial leniency and the terror threat in France

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 07.02.38Un petit délinquant devenu djihadiste

The perpetrator of the Nice outrage, Dalrymple relates,

was born and raised in Tunisia and, a totally unskilled man, was given leave to enter and stay in France because he had married a French citizen of Tunisian origin in Tunisia. The decision to allow him into France was based on an abstract doctrine of human rights—in this instance, the right to family reunification—rather than on France’s national interest, which is never allowed to enter into such decisions.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

was very violent to his wife and she divorced him, but it was impossible to deport this père de famille, for to do so would have been contrary to his children’s right to a father. His children therefore acted as his permis de séjour, which was renewed when the original ran out.

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Paterfamilias: Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Trivial little offences

The public prosecutor of Paris

described him as a petit délinquant, though his offences included damage to property, robbery, making threats and repeated acts of violence.

He hit a man

with a baseball bat (which he happened to have with him, though baseball is not played in France) because the man asked him to move his van, which was blocking traffic.

He was sentenced to six months in prison. The sentence was suspended. Dalrymple asks:

Is a state that cannot bring itself to punish a man who attacks another with a baseball bat one with the will to thwart terrorism?

Not a sparrow falls but it is our moral concern

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Mission creepy

This is the syndrome from which Amnesty International has been suffering for some time, Dalrymple notes.

It is as if, he says, the taxpayer-subsidised human rights NGO at some point along the way

grew bored with its original purpose.

Of course, the sad change in the character of this once-laudable organisation results, Dalrymple points out, from the increasingly general belief that

virtue is proportionate to the number of good causes that one espouses.

Byeon Sang-byeok, Cats and Sparrows, mid-18th century

Byeon Sang-byeok, Cats and Sparrows, mid-18th century

Dalrymple given the brush-off by Amnesty apparatchik

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Abimael Guzmán and Mao Zedong

On the way back to Europe from Peru, Dalrymple falls into conversation with the person seated next to him on the aëroplane, who turns out to be an investigator for Amnesty International, the human rights NGO. When Dalrymple tells the investigator about the things he has seen done by the Peruvian army, the investigator

looked like a man who had just been fed with a tantalisingly delicious dish, or a cat at the cream; it was, it seemed to me, exactly what he wanted to hear. He almost purred.

But when Dalrymple tells the investigator about the things he has seen done by the Communist Party of Peru (the Maoist guerrillas Sendero Luminoso or Shining Path), the investigator’s

'He turned away from me and took no further interest in my conversation'

‘He turned away from me and took no further interest in my conversation’

expression turned sour and he looked at me as if I were a credulous bearer of tales about unicorns or sea monsters. He turned away from me and took no further interest in my conversation.

Dalrymple points out that

constituted governments do a lot of evil, but they are not the only ones to do evil.

In the case of the insurgency in Peru,

the government was the lesser evil, and by far.

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The quintessential apparatchik

Punchy: Paul Hunt

Paul Podsnap-Hunt: keeping on the right side of the rules of correctness

What is the secret of being a successful, well-paid administrator-at-large in the global health and aid-and-development apparat, with all the opportunities that this affords for international travel, for avoiding dull routine, for feeling very good indeed about oneself, and for transnational or nether-world approbation?

The secret, Dalrymple explains, is to follow the recommendation of Paul Hunt, the former Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to give him his full title. Hunt makes it a point in his speech and writing to be

as punchy as I can be within the rules, both spoken and unspoken.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.13.47At the same time Hunt believes that, as a human rights lawyer, he must

expand the traditional boundaries

of his

calling,

more or less to include everything. There is, says Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.16.09a kind of grandiosity about this that produces in me a similar effect as that my teachers used to produce when they had a piece of defective chalk that squeaked on the blackboard. Here is a man so perfect, so moral, so well-intentioned, so benevolent towards humanity, that he feels he has the right—no, the duty, the calling—to lay down the world’s agenda.

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Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, primer virrey de la Nueva España (1535-50) y del Perú (1550-52)

Hunt finds that he gains an appreciation of his worth as a humanitarian UN leader of considerable ability and far-sightedness when he hears that

some country or other has passed a law because of his

intervention,

and he feels as if he has achieved something, as if all laws in the world were obeyed and achieved their end.

Alas,

Obedezco pero no cumplo.

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Paul Hunt: grandeur

Coiffure of a globa; healthcare visionary

Coiffure of a global healthcare visionary

The human rights of drunken, violent youths

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 21.50.20An incident outside the Cirio

Belgian beer, Dalrymple points out, is

nectar.

In order to partake of some while enjoying the ambiance of the place, he and his wife pay a visit to the Cirio,

a fin de siècle establishment in the heart of Brussels.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 22.01.20As the Dalrymples emerge, greatly refreshed one imagines, from the bar, an inebriated student, who is celebrating the university’s special day,

throws a glass at us and other people nearby. It shatters on the ground in front of us.

A number of people could have been badly injured.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 22.06.04Policemen who happened to be in the vicinity

charge after the student, who sobers up at once in his flight into the crowd.

But Dalrymple makes this shocking statement:

I confess, though I am ashamed to admit it, that when I saw the police giving chase, my first thoughts were not of the student’s human rights.

 

Incompetence of the European Court of Human Rights

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 10.15.52The court has ruled that

imprisonment in perpetuity is against fundamental human rights.

The court thinks that

a crime such as [that of Jewish Museum murderer Mehdi Nemmouche] is forgivable, and moreover, that it is his human right to be given a chance of rehabilitation, presumably by some kind of moral physiotherapy.