Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Zeid warns against populists and demagogues in Europe and U.S. Peace, Justice and Security Foundation gala, The Hague, 5 September 2016

I wish to address this short statement to Mr. Geert Wilders, his acolytes, indeed to all those like him – the populists, demagogues and political fantasists. 

To them, I must be a sort of nightmare.  I am the global voice on human rights, universal rights; elected by all governments, and now critic of almost all governments.  I defend and promote the human rights of each individual, everywhere: the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and immigrants; the rights of the LGBTi community; the rights of women and children in all countries; minorities; indigenous persons; people with disabilities, and any and all who are discriminated against, disadvantaged, persecuted or tortured – whether by governments, political movements or by terrorists.

I am a Muslim, who is, confusingly to racists, also white-skinned; whose mother is European and father, Arab.  And I am angry, too.  Because of Mr. Wilder’s lies and half-truths, manipulations and peddling of fear.  You see, twenty years ago I served in the UN peacekeeping force during the Balkan wars – wars so cruel, so devastating, which flowed from this same factory of deceit, bigotry and ethnic nationalism. 

The proposition of recovering a supposedly perfect past is fiction; its merchants are cheats.  Clever cheats.

Populists use half-truths and oversimplification -- the two scalpels of the arch propagandist, and here the internet and social media are a perfect rail for them, by reducing thought into the smallest packages: sound-bites; tweets.  Paint half a picture in the mind of an anxious individual, exposed as they may be to economic hardship and through the media to the horrors of terrorism.  Prop this picture up by some half-truth here and there and allow the natural prejudice of people to fill in the rest.  Add drama, emphasizing it’s all the fault of a clear-cut group, so the speakers lobbing this verbal artillery, and their followers, can feel somehow blameless. 

The formula is therefore simple: make people, already nervous, feel terrible, and then emphasize it’s all because of a group, lying within, foreign and menacing.  Then make your target audience feel good by offering up what is a fantasy to them, but a horrendous injustice to others.  Inflame and quench, repeat many times over, until anxiety has been hardened into hatred.

Ultimately, it is the law that will safeguard our societies – human rights law, binding law which is the distillation of human experience, of generations of human suffering, the screams of the victims of past crimes and hate.  We must guard this law passionately, and be guided by it.

Do not, my friends, be led by the deceiver.  It is only by pursuing the entire truth, and acting wisely, that humanity can ever survive.  So draw the line and speak.  Speak out and up, speak the truth and do so compassionately, speak for your children, for those you care about, for the rights of all, and be sure to say clearly: stop!  We will not be bullied by you the bully, nor fooled by you the deceiver, not again, no more; because we, not you, will steer our collective fate.  And we, not you, will write and sculpt this coming century.  Draw the line!  - Read More

Zeid warns against populists and demagogues in Europe and U.S.

Zeid warns against populists and demagogues in Europe and U.S. - More


Post a Comment

<< Home