A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
When I was a university kid, I got tangled up with a student drama group committed to the Theatre of the Absurd. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, run for your lives. I’m sure that some of it is good stuff, but my group were less than amateurs, with egos the size of Cleveland. They spend most of their time talking about it (it being the absurd) and very little else. By the time I realized they were never actually going to produce anything, I had 40 pages of freako dialogue written and a new understanding of just how absurd some things can be. I resolved to steer clear of these folks in the future and have managed to do so for most of my life — until now.
Recently, the United Nations has unleashed a series of theatrical productions of such blatant absurdity as to do my long forgot, overly dramatic buddies proud. They are called The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. I believe they’re basically improve, but the premise is member nations periodically pick out one country and then criticize its human rights record in the most preposterous terms possible. I’m sure it’s all great fun, but last week it was Canada’s turn, and I must admit, I took exception.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, if you look at a map, Canada is the big red bit sitting on top of the United States. We’re the folks who frequently get voted one of the best places on earth to live, and, except for the weather (pee-your-pants cold for six to eight months of the year) we are. We’re a peace-loving folk who try to mind our own business. The only shot we’re ever fired in anger (in our entire history) happened in the 90s when Brian Tobin put a warning volley across the bow of some Spanish fishermen who were stealing our cod. We are a generous people and try to take care of our own. Actually, you have to work hard to starve in this country. Despite what our underworked media tells us, we’re not racists, sexists or homophobes (yobs don’t count) and the only things we actively hate are Toronto and Vancouver (in that order.) We vote and complain in equal proportions, and our greatest fault is, as a nation, we’re hopelessly fair and oddly self-conscious about it. Yes, we have some serious problems in this vast frozen Nirvana, but given what the rest of the world puts up with, we’re not doing too badly. So I get a little tight-jawed when a bunch of scoundrels who wouldn’t know human rights if it bit them on the bum, start lecturing me and mine about how to conduct our affairs.
However, judge for yourself. Here are some direct quotations (gleaned from the National Post) from the stand up comedy which is the United Nations.
Russia was concerned about Canadian “police actions of torture and cruelty against peaceful demonstrators.”
Pakistan was worried about Canada’s “increased poverty and unemployment rate among immigrant communities”
China pointed out there was “widespread racial discrimination in Canada.”
Egypt talked about “racial profiling in law enforcement action.”
And Cuba accused Canada of “racism and xenophobia”
But I’ve save the best for last:
North Korea said “We have serious concerns about continued violations of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, torture and other ill-treatment, racism and xenophobia.”
Iran complained about “violation of human rights by Canadian government” including (but, apparently not limited to) “child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, the right to food, discriminatory law and regulation against indigenous people and minority groups, including Moslem, Arab and African communities.”
These are pretty bold words from a crew of nations whose collective track record on human rights could be published as a How-To Guide for Satan.
Neo-tsarist Russia – A place where Putin, the king without a crown, can toss your ass into the “dismantled” Gulag for singing protest songs, justice is a matter for the oligarchs to decide and the difference between criminal and businessman depends on who’s doing the shooting.
Pakistan – The land where fourteen-year-old girls get shot for wanting to go to school, most disagreements come with a complimentary car bomb and assassinating your political opponents is a standard election strategy.
China – One of several nations whose last legitimate election was …hmmm… never, blind poets have previous convictions, Nobel Peace Prize winners are currently in jail, and if your ethnic background is Uyghur, your sentence is determined before the trial.
Egypt – A country where the national sport is chasing Coptic Christians, beating them with sticks and leaving them for dead.
Cuba – An island nation whose salute to equality is putting dissidents, homosexuals, marijuana smokers and AIDS patients all in the same jail cell.
North Korea – An unheated wasteland where the biggest employer is the secret police, you can say anything you want in praise of Kim Jong-un and most government officials like to spend quiet evenings watching the peasants starve.
Iran – The land that time forgot, where women are stoned to death for having the bad manners to get raped, top government officials go to jail for consorting (or is it cavorting?) with evil spirits and genies, and the national pastime in denying the Holocaust.
They only way you could find a more scurrilous crew than these guys would be to join Evil-of-the-Month club. But think about it, unlike my foolish university friends, who were just play acting, these boys are real and they figure they should run the world!