Monday, June 20, 2005

Gulag Schmulag

Today, the BBC published an article about Bill Clinton’s interview with the Financial Times in which Clinton says that the US detention facility at Guantanamo should be “closed down or cleaned up” (the BBC headline reflects only its preference: Clinton urges Guantanamo closure). After detailing Clinton’s comments, the BBC helpfully reminds its readers in an aside that “Amnesty International has branded it ‘the gulag of our times’.” This reminder has become rather typical of BBC stories on Guantanamo. In the nearly 4 weeks since Amnesty International issued its annual report on human rights and made its infamous reference, the BBC has mentioned the Amnesty description in no less than 6 articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), 3 of those times as simply an aside in what was an article about other issues.

But why does the BBC continue to note the “gulag” comment, time and time again? Serious and reasonable people can disagree over a lot of things, including the merits of maintaining the prison at Gitmo. But no reasonable person can accept the parallel drawn by Amnesty as worthy of serious consideration, and if the BBC thinks differently, it owes the people who are forced by law to fund it a serious examination of how the deaths of millions through forced labor, starvation and disease have manifested themselves at Guantanamo.

Does the BBC’s British audience know that, even as the BBC continues to hype Amnesty’s over-the-top rhetoric, a former Soviet dissident and prisoner, Pavel Litvinov, has revealed that Amnesty sought him out for support over its “gulag” comment and admitted to him that, while there is indeed an “enormous difference” between Gitmo and the gulag, drawing the parallel “attracts attention to the problem of Guantanamo detainees”? Not unless they also read the Washington Post, they don't.

The BBC should be covering the “gulag” comment as an Amnesty International scandal. How did a once serious and important organization so lose its bearings that it finds itself comparing the greatest (albeit imperfect) proponent of freedom in the history of the world to one of the most homicidal regimes in history? Is it appropriate for an ostensible moral authority like AI to throw away its credibility with outrageous and hyperbolic charges simply in order to gain publicity?

Instead of investigating these questions, the BBC instead chooses to tacitly advance those very same outrageous charges by repeating them, as relevant and serious, on every possible occasion. Can there be any doubt left that the BBC is making the same political judgment that Amnesty made, namely that in order to advance its own political aims, sometimes the truth must be sacrificed? Oh, but I forgot. The BBC does not have political aims, does it?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, let me get this straight: Guantanamo is, in your opinion, a mere example of the greatest (albeit imperfect) proponent of freedom to liberate those who do not agree with it? Yeah, thats really inteligent. Poor Amnesty, poor BBC, they are not independent. They are not independent. Bush is.

What a moron you really are.

5:16 PM  
Blogger mamapajamas said...

Anon... actually, it would be helpful if Amnesty International and BBC had actually BEEN in Gitmo before they opened their big mouths. Now they should never be allowed in under any circumstances, as they've proved themselves ready to believe the worst about the US, no matter who does the complaining.

And yes... PI and BBC are NOT independent. AI has to answer to its biggest funders (such as Soros), and BBC writers have to answer to their own socialist bosses.

Bush is independent. Bush is a lame duck president who has to answer to no one except the US Constitution. The Constitution does not cover the creeps interred at Gitmo. Bush is not running for any other office, and so isn't trying to appease poll numbers... he doesn't care about polls. He only needs to do what HE feels in necessary.

Yes, Bush is independent, and AI and BBC are not.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Ubercaiman said...

Uh oh! That's two "you are a moron" comments in just a few days.

You are hitting them where it hurts. Keep up the good work, Scott.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Peter Spence said...

In the dark 1980s when Peru was being torn apart by Sendero Luminoso, Amnesty International never condemned the random killing of civilians - not once - ever. It's just another group of well-paid opportunists pursuing a hard left agenda and its opinion isn't worth listening to.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Well at least anonymous keeps the discussion lively! To anonymous-

Gitmo is no more an "example" of our intentions of spreading freedom than a civilian jail or prison facility is. Those places aren't very free either, and can get quite rough. Ever hear the rumors of the "pound-me-in-the-ass" treatment that inmates get from fellow inmates in the prisons (we're talking guy-on-guy here)?? Not that that's supposed to happen, but apparently it does.

Get your head on straight and realize who's in there. They're not necessarily peaceful citizens. They were picked up on the battlefield fighting U.S. soldiers. That's why they're there. And only the roughest treatment is reserved for those deemed the most dangerous who won't talk. The rest get culturally-sensitive meals that are in accordance with their religious beliefs. They are given a Koran, by our government, and the guards are taught how to handle it with respect, notwithstanding the few incidences where they were desecrated. The prison facility does the "call to prayer" in accordance with Islamic traditions, and the prisoners are allowed to pray in accordance with their faith, and are given the direction to face towards Mecca. Name one other country that would do all this to respect prisoners' religious beliefs. No place else would. These are the lengths we are willing to go to to be humane to these prisoners.

12:49 AM  

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