Monday, April 10, 2006

Tanks kill hundreds in Trafalgar Square

Ken Livingstone never fails to amaze me. Some say he speaks without thinking (or that he is sometime ‘tired and emotional’) but I think that the reason he doesn’t need to think before speaking is because his politics are rigidly imprinted. What people mean when they say he speaks before thinking, is that he speaks before his brain has necessarily had the chance to put a savoury spin on his politics. His politics, however, remain so deeply unsavoury that they assault the senses and leave a bad taste in the mouth.

I understand and accept that he takes his job promoting London and ensuring the smooth running of the city seriously. But is everything fair-game in the pursuit of this?

The signal that he’d become a bureaucratic utilitarian came early. When the RMT union called a strike, he encouraged scabbing to ensure that Christmas shoppers were not inconvenienced.

And now, in an effort to court Chinese investment in London, he’s downplayed and dismissed the Tiananmen Square Massacre – calling it “a riot” comparable to Poll Tax protests in Trafalgar Square, according to The Telegraph.

When challenged about the crassness of this comparison – since no one died in Trafalgar Square, he started equivocating.

"If you go back to some of the early instances you will find many cases where innocent protesters were hacked to pieces with sabres - the Peterloo massacre, for example. There is no such thing as one country with a perfect record," spake our Ken.

Of course, the Peterloo Massacre was almost 200 years ago, and only about a dozen people died compared to the more than 600 (or perhaps as many as 3000, according to the Chinese Red Cross) that perished in Tiananmen Square. But then of course, an antique local militia armed with swords is nothing compared to a mechanised army tank brigade, is it?

But when Ken says “There is no such thing as one country with a perfect record.” It sets off little alarm bells in my head. Of course it is true. But it is also the stock-in-trade of sections of the post-modernist Left - moral equivalence and neo-racism.

It says that “we” cannot criticise human rights abuses in other countries or cultures because “we” don’t have an unblemished historical record.

But we were nothing 200 years ago. We were not even alive. I simply do not buy into this ‘sins of the father’ nonsense. We did not support the Crusades, the Inquision or Slavery, nor did we (apart from a few surviving veterans) defeat Hitler and Nazism. We only make moral judgements and take actions based on our world in our lifetimes. The notion that there is a collective race-responsibility is dangerous. It denies that the present generation can ever be better than the preceding.

If you think about it. It is just as preposterous to say that we were responsible for slavery as it is to say that we were responsible for abolishing it. In the neo-racist collectivist sense, both statements would be true. But is it not sufficient that today “we” share an abhorrence of slavery – regardless of what our forebears did – and because of the efforts of another generation of our forebears, are prepared to speak out against slavery wherever it manifests itself? The idea that because one group of our forebears traded in slaves (ignoring for a moment our other forebears who fought to abolish it) that we cannot speak out against slavery today leads only to one thing – moral paralysis!

So, the dismissal of the massacre as part of Tiananmen Square’s “interesting history” rather than denouncing it for the outrage it was is disgusting. The idea that this outrage should not be unequivocally condemned because of a (a fraction of the scale) massacre on British soil almost 200 years ago, is pathetic.

It is this neo-racist outlook that is responsible for the sorry state of human rights in the world today. It is neo-racist because its proponents are just as willing to box and isolate by race as David Duke and Eugene Terre’Blanche are. When I denounce a human righst outrage, I do so not as a white, western male, but as an Earthling. And when Livingstone and his friends spout this bull-crap, someone needs to say “Hey! Earth to Ken!”

That Ken Livingstone wasn't around in 1819 to condemn the Peterloo massacre is regrettable. Bit it is no reason why he should hesitate to condemn a massacre in vivid, full-colour, living memory, while people still weep for the dead and the scarred and mutilated still walk among us.


At 1:53 pm, Blogger Lopakhin said...

Of course, the Peterloo Massacre was almost 200 years ago, and only about a dozen people died

Okay, but how about the Amritsar Massacre (1919, I believe) which killed three-hundred-odd.

At 2:01 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Well, at least you're getting a century closer, but still a century behind. But what's the point? Do you know anyone still alive involved in that? Is the same government in power? Do we not unequivocally condemn such massacres today?

In fact, did you understand a single point I made?

At 4:46 pm, Blogger Christopher King said...

Right here in America you can watch big business and the government (sadly including the NAACP) try seven (7) times to shut down my blawg.

At 1:06 pm, Anonymous Janine said...

Could I just add that the last time police roughed up a large number of demonstrators in London was on May Day a couple of years back. Ken Livingstone praised the Police's action - and, as Mayor, was ultimately responsible for it.


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