Tuesday, August 16, 2005

74 comments:

Dr. D said...

Hello and Welcome to my new weblog. I'm a novice to "blogging" so bear with me. I developed this weblog because I thought that it would be a great opportunity to comment on some of the pressing human rights issues out there, as well as other issues of the day.

This blog is welcome to all opinions on human rights issues worldwide. In the days to come, I will be asking students in my government course at Franklin & Marshall College, Evil v. Good: The Struggle for Human Rights, and my African politics course to comment on various human rights issues.

I am a Canadian transplant to the United States, living here (legally of course!) since 1994. Next year I will hopefull become a U.S. citizen. I have a Ph.D., from the University of Toronto in Comparative Politics of Developing Countries and International Relations. I've been at F&M since 1997.

My expertise focuses on human rights (obviously) and specifically on Cameroon and Uganda, but I am also very interested in the pressing civil rights issues in the United States, including torture, and gay rights. I have been working as an expert-witness on political asylum cases involvling asylum seekers from Cameroon and Uganda. I must say that this has given me the greatest sense of accomplishment as an academic. I have worked this experience into another course I teach, Human Rights-Human Wrongs, which requires my students to work on real political asylum cases. You can read about their work on the Christian Science Monitor link on this page.

Kelly L. said...

HATE. MURDER. SLAVERY. GENOCIDE. RAPE. STARVATION. RACISM. INFANTICIDE. CHILD LABOR. How is it possible that in an age where human beings have found a way to walk on the moon, to flip a switch and have access to information, art and music from all over the world via the internet, and to take a heart out of one person and transplant it into the body of another that we have found no cure for the most horrific acts ever to plague mankind? Is it possible that these evils are simply inevitable because human beings are inherently evil?

When we think about the word “evil,” certain names and faces almost automatically come to mind. We picture Adolf Hitler, heartlessly ordering the extermination of an entire race of people. We picture the BTK Killer, thoughtlessly binding, torturing and killing innocent victims. We picture child molesters, rapists, dictators and corrupt governmental officials, but are these monsters unusual examples of humans gone bad, or are all humans born evil?

As far back in history as Saint Augustine and beyond, theorists have been hypothesizing on whether or not humans are inherently evil. Augustine believed that humans themselves are not inherently good or evil, but that the power of free will allows humans to choose for themselves whether they wish to lead a life of righteousness or wickedness.

Kant agreed with the importance of free will in deciding the ultimate evil or good of a person. He said that while human beings are naturally drawn to what is right, they are constantly influenced by evil desires and impulses. It is humans’ ability to make choices in their lives, said Kant, that opens the door to evil.

It is hard to imagine that, when faced with a choice to do good or do evil, a person would choose evil. However, in many cases, the lure of self-advancement is over-whelming, especially to a person who has been exposed to selfishness, hardship, envy and violence his or her whole life. Had Hitler been the child of a well-off, encouraging, suburban family living in New York with loving parents and a happy childhood, it is unlikely that he would have grown into the monster we saw during the Holocaust. Similarly, many humans who commit human rights violations have experienced hardship and violence in their lives: the oppression of the Hutu’s by the Tutsi’s in Rwanda, Pol Pot’s exposure to violence and death under Ho Chi Minh, or Klu Klux Klan members who were exposed to racism and violent demonstrations at a very young age.

As described in Why We Hate: Understanding, Curbing and Eliminating Hate in Ourselves and Our World by Francis Dozier, childhood experiences and conditioning play a large role in the development of brain function and the ability to assert rational control over primal instincts. Although all humans possess the ability to hate, most people have the ability to control their primal urges and therefore are not evil.

No, this is not just an optimistic, idealistic view of society. As Edmund Burke said, “all that it takes for evil to triumph, is for a few good men to stand by and do nothing.” A few good men. Yes, there are good men in this world. For each murderer, thief, rapist and dictator we hear about on the news and see plastered all over newspapers and billboards, there is a social worker, police officer, human rights activist or foreign service worker.

The good-hearted people in this world are not nearly as few and far between as it may sometimes seem. Red Cross workers volunteer their time almost daily to help others in need. My own roommate volunteered an entire semester working with children in Ghana, teaching them and English and working with an NGO to make a difference in their every day lives.

In a world where it often seems as though we are surrounded by evil, destruction and heartache, good people are a refreshing reminder that humans are not inherently evil, but rather that they have the choice to do good on a daily basis. How then, you may ask, is it possible that in the past 3 years nearly 400,000 people have been brutally murdered in Darfur? The answer is that just because we have not found a cure for evil yet, doesn’t mean it cannot be overcome. Just as cancer patients have to fight every day, over and over, along with the help of countless doctors and strong support systems, victims of human rights violations must continue to fight back.

The fight against human rights violations cannot be fought solely by the victims however. We live in a nation where our basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were idealistically transcribed on a piece of parchment paper over a century ago. Most of us have the luxury of not worrying about constant slavery and murder of our family and neighbors. This separation though, cannot become apathy. Nations across the globe must stand up against these evil deeds. We must educate our children as to the importance of empathy and consideration for others and encourage citizens to not sit idlely by while others suffer. Everyone can do something, whether it be big or small, to combat evil in the world and help to perpetuate the good in the world.

Humans are not inherently evil, and therefore human rights violations are not inevitable. Rather, evil is a disease still in need of a cure, a cure that will only come from continual education and outpourings of aid from good people around the world. Confused? I will put it in the simplest way I can – Good is the cure for evil. So practice EQUALITY. PATRIOTISM. EDUCATION. TOLERANCE. EMPATHY. LOVE.

Anonymous said...

A question for Kelly L.

Do you disagree with the accepted theory among most Christians that man is born to sin and that evil is inevitable due to his sin nature?

KristyG said...

While the rest of the world’s economies are expanding and technology is advancing, Africa still remains the most underdeveloped continent. Everyday, Africans must face issues such as poverty, AIDs, famine, deforestation, and civil war. In some areas, the conditions are so bad that the average life expectancy is significantly falling. It is hard for the countries of Africa to develop when issues like these continue to pull them down.

One of the biggest issues is the aftermath of European imperialism. Europeans came onto the continent and took power over the Africans, leaving them with a feeling of helplessness. Before the imperialists, the continent of Africa had never been divided into countries. The Europeans drew boundary lines right through the middle of tribes for the countries that they had created. Tribes that originally had not gotten along were forced to live together as one state and tensions arose.
One of the most horrific events in African history was the Rwandan genocide. The Hutus and the Tutsis had been forced to live amongst each other after the Europeans had drawn the boundary through the two tribes. Many people in Rwanda were killed when a civil war broke out between them. To this day, many people continue to die as there are many civil wars that are still going on across the continent. In some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the government has such a hard time keeping control over its people that the country is considered a failed state. Three million people died in the DRC between the years of 1998 and 2003.

Another big problem is poverty. According to the statistics presented in class, “half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s 700 million people subsist on $.65 or less a day.” It is also the “only continent that has grown poorer in the past 25 years.” Africa’s population of 900 million people continues to grow, and it is hard for them to keep up the food supply. Many young Africans are faced with this sense of hopelessness so they become criminals or join a rebel group just to survive.

The economies of African countries also struggle to grow. The economies are usually based mainly on the sales of commodities, and as the world market price for commodities continues to fall, it becomes harder for the African countries to maintain a stable economy. This leads into the problem of a debt crisis.

Many African countries owe so much money to governments, northern banks, and international financial institutions that even if they were to have significant economic growth, they must first pay back these institutions before using the money to help their own people who are starving. Some African countries that manage to have economic growth tend to use most of the money on military expenditures, either to start civil wars or protect themselves from civil wars.

One of the biggest health issues in Africa is the AIDs epidemic. According to the notes in class, “between 25 million and 28 million Africans carry HIV.” Many children are born HIV positive and they end up not living past their twenties. For all of mankind, children are the future—and what is Africa to do if the children are dying sooner?

Another issue is the environment. The ecosystem is becoming unbalanced due to the killing of species such as elephants and gorillas. People are also ruining the habitats of many animals when they cut down trees. Instead of cutting down trees and replacing them, some Africans cut down trees until the whole forest disappears, and then they move to the next location.

Then there is the issue of property rights. Most people in Africa do not own the property that they live on because it is hard for people to prove that they own the land. Maybe if Africans owned property they would not have to migrate from place to place to find food and firewood, and they would be able to replant trees and farm their own land. It is hard for people to take care of themselves when they do not even have a place to live and call their own.

All of these issues are what makes Africa the most underdeveloped continent. Countries in the First World do not have to deal with some of these issues, or at least to the extent that Africans face. While Americans are facing problems such as Social Security Reform and whether or not the Patriot Act is unconstitutional, Africans are just trying to provide food, clothing, and shelter to its people. Africans must solve these problems before they can move forward and progress at the same speed as the rest of the world.


Further African issues to research:

POVERTY & DEVELOPMENT http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/develop/indexafr.htm

CORRUPTION http://www.theperspective.org/burdenofthieves.html

ECONOMY http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Africa

Jon Appel said...

Africa is home to more than 900 million people, accounting for approximately 11.5 percent of the global population. In spite of its large population, the continent accounts for only one percent of the world’s GDP. These are only two of the facts that contribute to Africa’s current state of underdevelopment. Many other socioeconomic, cultural and political factors contribute to (sub Saharan) Africa being the most underdeveloped continent on the planet.

Many of the problems associated with Africa’s underdevelopment occurred after many African nations became liberated from colonial occupation. It all began in the triumphant year of 1960, when seventeen African nations were granted independence from their colonial rulers. One problem was that said nations had been under tribal leadership, then colonial rule, and had no experience with any form of (modern) democratic government. So, for example, when the Belgian colonial rulers left Zaire, a power vacuum was left in their wake. The military despot, Mobutu Sese Seko, stepped into the void and proceeded to rule Zaire with an iron fist. “L’etat, c’est moi,” proclaimed Seko, and no one dared challenge him. Eventually, in 1997, a sick and weakened Seko sought medical attention abroad. In his absence his regime collapsed, thereby ending a thirty-five year reign of tyranny.

The problem of power hungry autocrats was compounded by the fact that many African nations had been created by colonial powers that ignored long-standing tribal/ ethnic rivalries and boundaries. This is best exemplified by the Rwandan genocide of approximately 800,000 people between the Hutu and Tutsis in early 1994. One must note that genocide is not limited to Rwanda and nearby Burundi; similar incidents have occurred in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The list goes on… and these conflicts have done their part to contribute to the $208 billion debt that Sub Saharan African nations owe. Some political theorists believe that these tribal rivalries will forever be a part of African politics and culture.

Yet others blame the despotic rule of many African nations on the United States and the former Soviet Union. During the cold war the United States did all it could to thwart the spread of Communism (containment) across the African continent, and in doing so, installed some of the harshest dictators in the history of mankind. The Soviets for their part backed the formation of a ruthless Communist regime in Mozambique. The two super powers played out their own rivalries on African soil.

In spite of being a continent rich in resources, like oil, gold, and diamonds, many nations lack the infrastructure to access such resources. As a result, they often hire Western corporations to aid in their development. When the construction is complete the Africans become indebted to the West, who take their payment in the form of resources and move on. Such was done with the exploitation of Nigerian oil reserves and gold in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). This also ties into the problem of political corruption, yet another factor that has lead to Africa’s underdevelopment.

During the time of political despots, which in some cases still remains true in certain African nations, political leaders would sell off their countries’ resources to the highest bidder (often Western businessmen). Consequently, certain nations would exhaust the few resources they had to benefit the people in power and their “crony” friends. What’s more, the absence of “rule of law” in many African nations led to anarchic conditions outside major cities. In some countries this has resulted in a kill or be killed mentality causes further anarchy. In the end this leaves only the strong to survive.

The problems are numerous, as is the population. It is indeed a tragedy that a continent with such a rich cultural heritage is experiencing some of the world’s greatest problems. Moreover, it is a travesty that the richer nations of the world have not shown greater initiative to aid the place where civilization began. Africa is a place where only “15% of Africans live in an environment considered minimally adequate for sustainable growth and development.” (The Economist, 2000) Knowing that and examining a small sampling of its problems, one can see how Africa has come to be the most underdeveloped continent.

JJackson said...

Blah, Blah, Blah... to KristyG: Africa is the most underdevloped continent in the world because Africans are not willing to police themselves. No one is willing to stand up and say corruption is wrong.
J.Jackson

Dr. D said...

JJackson: KristyG has a point -- after all, we cannot discount the effects of colonialism on Africa. Yes, there are a lot of problems with poor leadership, but aren't we falling into the trap of blaming the victim? Can we really discount the structural legacies of colonialism that indeed helped put those bad leaders into power!

don said...

It is not often that one has the immediate pleasure, and in this case responsibility, to write whether or not humans are or are not inherently evil. Before I proceed any further, let me make one thing clear: when I speak about humans and in trying to address the question of humans being inherently evil, I speak not of people individually but more so of humans as a whole, as a society, as a group of species over time and history. That is, I am not talking about whether or not you, or I or even your little darling grandmother would commit acts of evil. Instead, I am speaking of us, of the human race as an entity in and of itself. That said, the question still remains: are humans inherently evil? If so, are human rights abuses inevitable?
For me, my thoughts, experiences, and view on life would lead me to the conclusion that human rights abuses are inevitable because human beings are inherently evil. To make such a statement is wrought with caveats here, there, and everywhere. It would require me to write volumes upon volumes supporting my belief on this topic. Heck! The topic has consumed the lives of scholars over history. But alas! I am neither a scholar, nor a writer, or even an historian for that matter. I am merely a student of humanity. It is from this perspective alone that I will try to defend my position.
While I could try to address whether or not evil is innate within humans or is not, I choose not to go into that realm. Rather, I wish to focus on just one topic, one idea: why. Why do humans hate? Why do they commit acts of evil? Why do we, as humans, have a difficult time cleansing ourselves of this evil and hate that burrows beneath our skin and into the marrow of our bones? Simply? It is because of want.
While the simple argument could be that we want this or that, it is our inner hunger, our inner desire in wanting something, whatever that may be. Keep in mind that while I will mention this later one, I am not merely eluding to material desires...that would be too easy of an out. What I am more curious about are the items that humans want that are more elusive to define, such as happiness and freedom. Would you kill over freedom? Would you do anything you could to preserve happiness? Even if it meant doing whatever it takes to do so? Let us take a look at a few examples.
While the following example is not based in scholarly writing or in real facts, the example is highly applicable and demonstrates the fallibility of an individual that is regarded as the Enlightened One: Buddha. When I was growing on the streets of Thailand in a Thai Military run orphanage, one of my “hobbies” was practicing as a Buddhist monk. I recall that while reading and interpreting the Sanskrit text that one of elder monks pointed out passages which cited that even though the Buddha sought enlightenment later on in life, he was actually an individual that was self-absorbed in himself. That the Buddha, at that time named Siddhartha, sought to maintain his position. That is, he wanted to continue staying at the top of the pecking order and would do “what he must” to maintain that position. Moreover, even after Siddhartha set out on his own journey, he wanted to seek Enlightenment. The question then beckons, would he have forcibly sought it if individuals or groups of people sought to prevent him from doing so? Fearing that he might be igniting a new religion or a new path that ran contrary to the current religion at the time? While this may seem like speculation, the fact that the Enlightened one began as an individual wanting something, power or enlightenment, demonstrates that humans are still humans and they have failings. Even the Buddha reflected on this and understood that no one, including himself, are not perfect.
The need to want also pervades today’s society. When we look around us at the idea of globalization, there is still one basic fact: the entire globalization structure is based on want. Yes, the global market is a structure that is meant to maximize goods and services at inexpensive prices but all of that is still based on want. The want to have cheaper prices. The want to have durable goods. Or even the want to have excellent services. Regardless, all of this is based on want…on greed. As such, some could even argue that there are human rights abuses occurring because of globalization. One just need to take a look at the coffee bean growers in South America. Or how about the Africans in much of Africa that do not have enough food yet Western societies can find their own people many times over? All this because of globalization? All this because a little kid saying to his mommy or daddy, “I want this. I want that?”
Lastly, there is the idea of freedom. People want freedom. People will even die or commit atrocities for it. Just because they want freedom. That is not to say that freedom should not be available to everyone, it should be. Rather, what we are looking at is the cost of wanting freedom. To take a simplistic view, let us take a look at Adolf Hitler and his wanting for Germany all of Europe. One could even argue that Hitler wanted the freedom to allow his fellow Germans to freely and easily move around the entire continent of Europe. To Hitler, to achieve this freedom, he would have to commit acts that would allow him to achieve his goals. Hitler wanted something and he would do anything to get it.
Although the above examples are simple in nature and are highly debatable, my goal as to demonstrate how the want for something, enlightenment, money, food, or freedom can cause seemingly normal individuals to commit acts that can be viewed as human rights abuses if carried far enough. When pegged up against a wall about to be pounded on, many will want to get out of that predicament…even if it means killing the other person. I would. Would you?

Kelly L. said...

Response to anonymous:

A few fun quotes from Bible Reading 101:

In Romans 3:23 it says that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” As you can see, sinned is a verb, meaning that according to Christianity it is an action that each man commits. It does not say that man is born evil, rather man chooses to commit evil.

Furthermore, in Romans 5:19 it says “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Notice that again, it does not say that all men were made sinners. Adam’s choice to commit a sin only gave men the ability to sin, not forced every man to, in turn, be born evil.

Psalm 58:3 says “Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.” Because the verse specifies that the “wicked” class of people “go astray,” men cannot be born with an original sin because, by having this “original sin,” men would already be “astray” and not have to “go” there. Unfortunately, Christianity pessimistically claims that all men will commit “sin” in their lives, but regardless, people are not born that way.

Anonymous said...

To Kelly L. From Anonymous

O.K. Kelly L. I understand that you are telling me that man,(and for that matter woman) is not born with a sin nature. So.............
where then does sin, a.k.a. evil, come from?

Kelly L. said...

To Anonymous:

Evil stems from humans’ ability to make free choices. Humans, much like animals, seek instinctively to preserve their way of life and respond to what they perceive as threats to their survival and reproduction. When humans are exposed to evil in the form of selfishness, abuse, hatred, racism or violence during their childhood, they may lose some or all of their capacity to make righteous choices when they feel threatened in their lives. Evil is born, then, out of desires and impulses to further one’s personal agenda or way of life without regard for what is morally “right.”

don said...

You know, we were talking about how the Milgram experiment basically concluded that when humans are placed in an institutional structure and told to do something by an expert researcher or a superior, they do it without fail, without remorse...all because as long as they're not responsible for the acts...it's still okay. Developed further into the discussion was the idea that institutions themselves create monsters and/or continue to perpetuate the worst in human nature. That is, when forced into an institution, one develops a whole new social pecking order that must be adhered to. If that's the case, why is it that we even have prisons? Are prisons not institutions that further the development of the banality of evil in humans? After all, are prisons full of the "worst" of society? Why the heck put a bunch of people that have committed crimes against fellow human beings, or even animals, together in an institution? Wouldn't that just reinforce the banality of evil? Why even have parole or limitations if prisons are the festering ground of an enclosed society full of the most wretched people in society? Hmmm...food for thought(s)... ;-)

don said...

I just wanted to make a quick comment on what Emmanual Dongala spoke about Africa and its citizens in his speech on Monday. While he touched on various reasons why Africa is the "shits pits" of today's world (i.e. corruption, famine, disease, etc) he made an interesting comment. Dongala eluded to the fact that possibly one of the main reasons why Africa is in such a bad shape as it is is that they have no one to run the countries within much of Africa. That is, with the life expectancy of Africans declining and the continuing deaths as a result of disease, Africans are unable to grow old enough to govern themselves. Essentially, Dongala was stating that there are no adults to run the countries; just children carrying machine guns swayed by the power of food and power offered by the politicians. That today's political leaders in Africa choose to not help its citizens because if they do, those citizens will grow up, learn, and fight back. So, why not just keep the country in the miserable state it's in and not have to improve it. To not have to improve allows for the corrupt leaders of Africa to stay in power. Right?

Dr. D said...

Re. KellyL last comment:
I think Kelly nailed it -- sort of. What about the people who have great childhoods but end up doing some pretty evil things? It gets back to a central debate withint social psychology -- dispositional v. situational explanations for human actions.
Don brought up a good point about the Milgram experiments and prisons. But what do you do with people who commit bad deeds? Let them out to commit more crimes? Prisons are "supposed" to be places where reform can take place -- maybe we have to examine whether they actually do that or reinforce bad behavior?
About Don's comment re. Africa: are you saying that we should just let Africa fall apart and remain the "pit latrines" of the world?

G. Wallace said...

REGARDING AFRICA DR. D:

How pretensious of us to think that we can begin to right the wrongs of Africa. Who are we, after all don't we have our hands full already with the war in Iraq, the clean up from Katrina and trying to keep George Bush from embarassing us any further in the world?
We should let Africans take care of their own problems! Oh and by the way...no more aid! Any money that we send there ends up in the pockets of the corrupt leaders that the Africans themselves allow to continue rule!

don said...

Responding to Dr D about my comments on Prisons and Africa

In many instances, many of today's prisons, as least those in the U.S., have been sucessful in rehabilitating individuals that were once considered dangerous to society, via community service programs, teaching them skilled jobs, and psychological rehabilitation. This is great! What I was trying to point out, however, is just the irony that in order to "correct" the bad people of the world...we throw them in with other bad people. Why would you want that? Why not throw them into an institution (schools, businesses, religious places of worship, communit centers, etc) that are full of good people? After all, aren't humans the product of their environment? If that's the case, if an individual grows up in a "bad" environment, can they actually change once their values and mores are already cemented into their meaning system? Hmm...

As for Africa, when I stated "why not just keep it in its miserable state" I meant that more of a rhetorical question. I'm not saying that we can't help those in need. Rather, and this will sound cliche, we need to help them help themselves. To an extent, G. Wallace may be onto something in that foreign aid IS being thrown into the "shit latrines." How much more does the world have to do to help Africa? To many, throwing foreign aid to Africa seems like throwing planets into the black holes of the universe. Emmanual Dongala in his Monday speech also mentioned that the UNDP Millenimum goal for Africa is supposed to be reached by 2015. According to UNDP statistics, however, that 2015 goal won't be reached until 2115...100 years later.

Anonymous said...

Response to Kelly L.

Evil stems from...........
Wow I'm impressed! You are thoughtful and well spoken. Kudos to you!

Dr. D said...

Re. Don's last comment on Human rights, prisons, and Africa.
Wouldn't it be interesting to find out how many people in America are incarcerated because of drugs or white collar crime. What impact does putting them in jail with hardened criminals have on their propensity to do evil? Perhaps you're onto something.
Also, I couldn't agree more about aid to Africa. There have been some countries and people that have helped themselves -- I think Ghana is a good example of this -- but you're right, does it make sense to "throw" money at Africa if the problems keep on persisting and people can't or unwilling to help themselves?

Dr. D said...

Re. Anonymous's comment on Africa
Yes, it is very pretentious of "us" Westerners to think that we can solve Africa's problems. That's what development theories are all about -- usually focused on cultural issues leading to modernity.
But how can we sit back and watch children dying of diarrhea, or women and men being hacked to death by machetes? Are we not all human? Should we be limited to only helping those that fall within our borders? Isn't that myopic?

don said...

Regarding Dr. D's comments on Anonymous's comments:

Dr. D writes about us being humans and all of us helping each other and that to not do so is myopic. That's true. But the other side still beckons that we also need to be able to help ourselves. Yes, I agree that we should help people in need, whether it be righting Human rights abuses or feeding the needy, but how can that be done when, in essence, we (as a country) have yet to clean our own house? How can we go to someone else's house (i.e. country) and tell them what to do when we still have people that are as much in need as those in Africa? Yes, we may not have the graphic images of children lying dead on the streets. But the truth of the matter is that we still have people dying here at home as well. Just because we have a better sanitation/clean-up crew than countries in Africa does not mean that we don't have bodies lying around; they're just picked up quicker here than they are in many parts of Africa. That said, the idea that also is of concern is if we were to extend many of our resources to Africa, which we could, would be not be overstretched already? As G. Wallace puts it: the U.S. is still dealing with the global war on terror, whether you agree with it or not. This includes operations still ongoing in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other hotspots of fanatic Muslim areas (such as SE Asia, Central Asia, and the North Eastern parts of Africa even). This, of course, on top of the fact that Katrina hit and we're dealing with that. The idea of helping others is a noble idea but first just like militaries in battle, we need to fortify our home base, our command center. You take a look at Napolean and Hitler in their conquest for Russia...they failed because they overextended themselves. And where are they now? Secure yourself FIRST and then you can help others. To hit more at home: a person is lying in a busy highway, bleeding, gasping for help, and moaning of pain. Do you put yourself out there reactively? Immediately without regard to your own safety first? Most people would wait, determine an appropriate response, secure their own safety and only then would they help the victim. This analogy applies to Africa as well.

Kelly L. said...

Response to g.wallace:

Don't you think its a little presumptuous of you to claim that the African people "allow" corrupt rulers to continue to rule? How can you say, if placed in the same situation, that you would be able to overcome extreme poverty and opression many of these people suffer?

Matt Colip said...

I agree with Jon's claim that many problems such as poor leadership, colonial backbone departing, tribalism, rising population and corruption are all thrown into Africa's problem and reason for being the most underdeveloped continent. It's depressing to think about and leads many in the "developed world" to the direction of hoplessness, given the number of problems contributing to the current situation in Africa. Figuring out how to effectively tackle all of these problems in a successful order will be something our generation will have to do. We can't keep turning our cheek to a problem that is becoming more and more everyone's crisis. A firm, honest, unselfish, full force effort must be taken by the developed world, under "African" terms, to succeed in Africa's long-term, organized social and economic growth.

Matt Colip said...

In response to Paradon. I agree with the idea that our entire society, everything we do is based on want. What we as humanity are beginning to face is the reality that we can't always get what we want or what we need for that matter. The fact is that we have molded ourselves to be dependent on resources that aren't renewable, land that isn't infinite in area, and water that is scarce. What we are going to have to rethink, as citizens of this planet, is that we can't keep on getting whatever it is we want, an hour long shower that uses countless gallons of water, a Suburban that gets 10 miles to the gallon or 3 hamburgers for lunch that equip one person with 3 people's calories. The illusion that people in the West can get whatever they want provided they can pay for it is polarizing humanity. Someone can only live in excess and have the luxury of all his or her wants at the expense of letting other's elsewhere live without. That is what we are beginning to see and what will continue to amplify with our current belief into what defines power, success and value. I wonder how the world would look if power and success were measured in how effiiciently one lived. I think, in that hypothetical world, things would be a lot more stable and evenly distributed. Any thoughts...?

Matt Colip said...

With regards to Don:

You do have a point. We do have people here suffering from hunger and poverty. We are fighting a War that is spreading our financial and military power's thin. However, I believe that this war on terror will last forever, especially with the gunslinging, iron fist way politics is directing it now. I don't think that it is up to only the US solve the world's problems. Part of the problem and reason why our resources are spread so thin now is because we chose to take an individualistic approach from day one and oust the rest of the developed world's opinion and aid in the War and other issues. If we as a country could learn to work better with other nations as honest partners, I think we would easily be able to handle the resources needed to progress this idea of the War on terror, educate those who need it and help those that want reasonable help. I also feel that, if we did justify not helping others outside of the US because our resources were spread so thin, I think we'd fall into a "turning away" mentality where we focused so much on ourselves that we, again forgot about the rest of the world. We need to look out and at least recognize the reality of the world which includes our problems like you mentioned. I think it's possible to look everywhere at once and address everything at once, as long as we are willing to be flexible and working with others, which recently, we haven't been able to do very well at all.

Dr. D said...

Okay, I'll try to respond to a few comments in one short comment. I'm impressed with the thought that is going into all of your comments, and hope to hear from some others as well....
First point: why should any humans suffer in the 21st century? Don't we have enough resources to go around to feed everyone? Isn't greed -- that keeps poverty alive -- and don't think that I'm sitting on my high horse looking down at the greedy ones shaking my finger == I'm no better. But isn't that human nature? As Matt said, we want more and more and more...recognizing that there might be limited resources in this world, but so what...as long as we have what WE want -- whether that means the individual you, your family, your coummunity or your country...
with regard to Africa -- there are a number of issues at stake here...how do you go up against a government that brings in the water cannons to quell demonstrations, or using live ammuniation to desperse crowds that are peacefully protesting. We can say that we would here in America == we have a rich history of revolution and challenging corrupt and unaccountable governments -- but what if we were hunger...and had to face the barrel of the gun? Isn't it easy to say that we would demand more when we are sitting comfortably in front of our high tech computers, in our high-tech luxurious homes/dorms/apartments etc.? As Kelly L mentions, are we sure we know what we would do if we were in a similiar situation as many poor Africans find themselves in?
That's it for me...I'm signing off (getting old, you know!) Dr. D.

Matt Colip said...

With response to Dr. D:

Greed definately is the cause and sustainer of poverty. This is why my forsight into what I think the future will be, will be one of not very much change and thus more amplified problems, sort of doom and gloom progression. I once had a discussion/discussions with someone who argued that the world would be in a better situation if it was run by women. With regards to the idea that greed is a part of humanity, I think it's swayed towards a male's drive for power and women follow a lesser, uninate suit to compete with the men. This may sound a little odd, but I think, honestly, as long as the world is run by power hungery cavemen wearing suits, there will not be the dramatic change in the way that needs to happen to make Africa, the US and the world more along the lines of poverty free, equal, pollution regulated and thus more realistically sustainable for the long term future. Society has been primarily male driven since it began, maybe it's time for a change in gender leadership. We can't keep going out and conquering new lands and resources, we're running out of items to sustain that sort of mentality and drive. We need to lead with a sort of
"this is what we have", let's arrange it in such a way and work together with everyone to preserve our family called humanity. Obviously, this thought is pretty far out there and requires people to accept everything from indivudual lifestyles, beliefs, life value and puts men in a very different situation then what history has been, but I think that's where we as humans are going to have to step to make a successful change. When I say that dramatic change is required, I ment it.
Also, I was thinking, the developed world definately is responsible in large part for Africa's situation. From business deals in favor of the developed country, colonialism in general, to arms deals made to these countries by developed nations seeking money. We, if nothing else, acted as an amplifier for the issues Africa faces. We need to be the "grown up" and recognize at least our influence on the amplification and seriously step in as a moderator based on the individual needs of each African country, not what we think or want to see happen their. So many issues...

MadMax said...

Kudos to the Catholic Church!

I was relieved to see that the Catholic Church took another step towards eliminating the posibility of pedophiles taking advantage of their position within the Church. They have recently taken a proactive approach in trying to find gays who try to lie their way into seminaries. If you ask me all gays should be forced out of the closet in an effort to protect our children.

Matt Colip said...

madmax, it sounds like you're putting gays and pedophiles in the same group of people. How are you assuming that all gays have a sexual interest in children? I think the Catholic Church has the ability to be as strict as they please with their doctrinal law in efforts to clean up recent acts of misconduct. But to take those acts of misconduct and say that all gays are pedophiles seems entirely too generalized.

MadMax said...

Ok go not all gays are pedophiles but the priests involved this crime were probably gay and were hiding behind the hallowed walls of the Catholic Church. No doubt because they can't deal with their own sexuality. This is wrong, wrong, wrong! Gays have no place in the Church, Catholic or otherwise.

Dr. D said...

Mad Max:
I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion -- but you are missing Matt's point -- that being gay is not the same as being a pedophile. There is a clear distinction -- there are heterosexual pedophiles as well as homosexual pedophiles -- you can't generalize to suggest that all gay priests in the Catholic church or elsewhere are pedophiles.
That type of logic (or illogic in this case) leads to the homophobia and misinformation about gays that perpetuates hate crimes against them.

MadMax said...

You're missing my point!

It doesn't matter to me if gay people are pedophiles. They don't live the Church doctrine. They try to force their evil ways on others, i.e. pretending that they live a "normal life". This can have a negative influence on impressionable young minds. Don't get me wrong, I don't wish them any harm but at the same time I don't want my children to be around them.

Dr. D said...

To Mad Max:
What is "Normal"? Because you're hetersexual (I presume) you think that's normal? Just because the majority of the population is heterosexual does not make them "normal". Does being different make people dangerous? I guess -- if you think there is only one way to think -- which that seems evident--
Homosexuals are God's children, just like heterosexuals -- shouldn't they have the same rights and dignity as heterosexuals? or should they be banished to an island (Lesbos perhaps?) and kept separate from heterosexuals?

MadMax said...

Dr.D

To clear things up yes I am a healthy hetro man who would love nothing better than to be dropped off on the island of Lesbos and live out my fantasies! But to answer your question yes I do think that normal is what the majority of us follow. I think that the word used for people who are quite different is “freak”. To go one step further, I do not want my children to grow up to be freakish. Oh and by the way…..no I do not think that gays are entitled to “special rights” simply because they have decided to live their lives as ungodly people. Oh and by the way again……yes I do think that it is a choice!

Matt Colip said...

Madmax...

I don't think normality is based off of a majority at all, especially when it comes to sexual preference. Maybe in some circumstances, a line of normality must be drawn using majority rule for the sake of democratic law, but not sexual preference. If someone wants to study and properly teach Catholicism to another human being the way the Bible spells it out to be taught, regardless of their personal sexual preference, as long as they, heterosexual or not, remain true to what their purpose is as a teacher of religion, more power to them. After all, from what I know, being a Catholic priest is difficult for anyone, regardless of their sexual preference because of the strict rules they must abide by. Additionally, if what they are really doing is that bad, won't the big guy in heaven rain hell fire on them. To me, if someone who's religious wants to test the laws of religion, let them. Isn't that what freedom is all about? Eventually someone needs to push the archaic laws of religion be it Darwin, or a person of broad sexual preference.

The fact here is that the world is changing. People are branching out, exporing new territory in everything that defines life, including sexuality. Sooner or later the Church is going to have to adjust to the times. We can't keep ourselves in a bubble of the past forever, but we can remain flexible, rational individuals aware of the changing world for which we live and adjust how we live accordingly to reduce hate and dislike towards our others that maintain different lifestyles differences. If you're really fearing that a priest might put "evil" language into your children, my advice to you as a rational individual is to go to move churches to one where you feel secure rather than beating down the personality of another through hate and public harassment. We're all the humans made with the same carbon chains no matter how you look at it. It's only fair to treat everyone as equal.

kelly l. said...

Madmax:

Homosexuality is not a disease that you children can "catch" from a priest or any person and is not "evil" as you so ignorantly claim. Perhaps if you had been reading our blog earlier, you would have seen the discussion about evil and where it comes from...lack of education, empathy and acceptance mostly. Maybe you should take a look at yourself before you so rudely label an entire group of people "evil."

Dr. D said...

This week, we'll be looking at the issue of whether war criminals should be executed or forgiven for their crimes. At the same time, we will be looking at the Holocaust, and how it happened. A recent article in the Boston Globe presents an interesting issue: should we have a Holocaust Memorial Day or just a Genocide Memorial Day? Check out the URL:
http://www.boston.com:80/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/09/19/muslims_and_the_holocaust

MadMax said...

In responce to Kelly L.

It sounds to me like you have some issues with God's law. I'am a Christian who follows the word of God as it has been written in the Bible. I do beleive that woman was made from man and oh by the way I also believe that homosexuality is a sin. All homosexualy will pay the price of their sins just as murders and adulters will do the same. I would prefer that my child not be in the same company of criminals or sinners, and yes that includes homosexuals.

Danielle S. said...

Throughout the history of mankind, torture, rape, murder of innocent civilians, forced migration and ethnic cleansing have been main human rights violations during wartime across the globe. Victims of war crimes rarely ever see justice because war criminals steer clear of accountability for their actions, whether it is by claiming they were "just following orders" or because their government in fact was granting them immunity if they completed such horrific acts. All the background details of why such atrocities are committed do not matter to those who have lost their lives, children, family, or identity as victims to war crimes; war criminals should be executed for their heinous crimes against humanity to provide justice to those they killed or harmed or planned to kill or harm.

Though this perspective may seem extreme, can you imagine walking down the street past a war criminal that was involved with the beating and killing of innocent civilians or the torture and extermination of an ethnic group of people? Would it be acceptable if that war criminal admitted to their crime and was forgiven because he/she gave an apology? CERTAINLY NOT. War crimes will continue to occur if war criminals are not held accountable for their horrible actions or if they are simply given a slap on the hand. Corrine Dufka of the Human Rights Watch presents a crucial point in that, “Every civilian victim who has been brutally mutilated, raped, abducted or murdered has a name, and so too do the individuals responsible for perpetrating such atrocities” (http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/06/25/africa8990.htm). War criminals have to face justice for their actions.

An apology cannot suffice for violently ripping innocent children out of a mother or father's arms, exterminating a race, or raping and beating civilians. War criminals should be executed for taking lives, or even taking part in planning to take lives, because it is not acceptable to claim that one was just “following orders” or say it is “part of the job.” In many cases, war crimes are part of largely planned operations by leaders with ultimate power and authority. For example, Karl Adolf Eichmann was the chief of operations in deporting an estimated three million Jews to the infamous extermination camps. His power and authority was used to find the “final solution of the Jewish question” and murder of an entire race during World War Two. Even though he never actually killed a Jewish person with his own hands literally, he created a system or plan to exterminate and kill millions of people. His trial held the public's attention across nations and his sentencing to death was one of the most historical moments of all time (http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/e/eichmann-adolf/).

All war criminals should face execution as Eichmann did. Hannah Arendt's “banality of evil” describes that even ordinary, maybe even boring, individuals, such as Eichmann, can commit horrific crimes. Motives, immunity from accountability, and career advancements may all be factors in why certain war crimes are committed, but those who take place in even plotting the destruction of mankind, besides the actual soldiers fighting the war, should be executed. War crimes are the most atrocious, disgusting, and heinous crimes around the world and no one who commits a war crime should have the privilege of having their own life. Clearly, war criminals do not value the significance of life or of living if they can take life like it is just part of an ordinary day's schedule.

Moreover, there is no acceptable reason that can excuse murder caused by a war crime. Whether an individual lived under the Nazi rule or in present-day Africa, war criminals all over the world have to be punished even if they believe what they are doing is correct. Killing innocent people is not acceptable. Deliberate murder or involvement in planning to deliberately murder innocent civilians or individuals has to end. One of the only ways to promote justice may be to take the lives of those who committed war crimes, which will send a powerful message around the world that war criminals will inevitably end up as Eichmann did.

Furthermore, a slap on the hand and immunity from being accountable for blatant acts of violence will not end war crimes. Today's genocides and terrorist acts are constant reminders that war crimes continue to occur around the world. War criminals are let off the hook, leaving victims around the world either dead or constantly reminded of what happened to their families or community. It is important to realize that any war criminal, no matter what they specifically did, conducted a war crime or made the decision to not stop the war crime, and should suffer for their actions by losing their life. Simply put, there should not be a gray area here, because how can one say a certain type of war crime is okay, while another is not? All war crimes are heinous and war criminals inevitably have to be stopped, no matter what placed them in the situations they were placed in, in order to promote justice and peace around the world. Nations across the world who want to end the abuse of human rights due to war crimes cannot allow war criminals to walk down the sidewalk in any community because they simply apologized and admitted their actions were wrong. War criminals who illegally murdered innocent civilians or individuals have to be held accountable for their actions, and unfortunately it does not suffice to say, “I'm sorry.”

sarahm said...

Since the beginning of time there has been war. People killing one another over land, religion, money, power, natural resources, or social ideologies. Why is it that people think that certain ideas worth killing for, but not others? Why is it that we are able to justify death for our own beliefs, and yet then have the audacity to judge others for killing for their beliefs? It comes from the notion that we hold that there are natural laws. These laws are core moral beliefs that all people should hold regardless of religion, race, sex, nationality, or ethnicity. One of these natural laws that we think all people should respect is the idea that life is valuable and that a person should not kill unless it is necessary. That leaves us with the question of what justifies killing? The answer, as we will find, is in the eye of the beholder.
After World War II was over, the International Military Tribunal began the Nuremburg trials. They tried countless Nazi military and government officials for crimes committed during the war. Unlike the other countless thousands of soldiers who had fought, killed, and died during the war, somehow it was believed that these particular people had been more responsible than the foot soldiers and the German people for the atrocities that were committed. These people were to blame for the near extermination of a race of people, and by trying and punishing them we could hold them responsible for the millions that were killed.
Responsibility. This word means being able to be held liable as the primary cause, motive, agent, or explanation for an event. This is a word that we like. This is a word that makes us feel comfortable. When we see injustice, we want to hold someone responsible. It is very difficult for people to accept that injustice naturally exists in the world. It is hard to believe that people are harmed every day, for no good reason. But what is a good reason for someone to die? Are there any good reasons for death? Some people would say yes. For many it is easier to believe that people deserve an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If a person has killed, other than in self-defense, then if he dies it is not as much of a tragedy. There was reason for him to die. We think that it is worse to hurt an innocent child than it is to brutally hang Wilhelm Keitel, Hans Frank, Herman Göring, or Rudolph Hess. Those human lives were not as valuable in our minds because they had committed crimes against humanity.
But were those crimes, in fact, worse than dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? There is no doubt that we look back and agree that this was a horrific act, which is not to be put up on a pedestal next to the crimes of the Nazis. Why then was there a double standard in accountability? Yet no one stood up then and demanded that for killing millions of innocents Harry S. Truman, Henry Stimpson his chief War Advisor, Col. Paul W. Tibbets who dropped the first bomb, or Major Charles W. Sweeney who dropped the second bomb, ought be tried and brought to justice for crimes of war.
Although the defense of these men, if put on trial could have been the same as the German officers, we somehow think that what the Nazi’s did was worse. What they did was worse because at least we were saving American lives by not invading Japan. American lives were more important. Japanese lives were less important. Can this be paralleled to Nazi Germany where the lives of homosexuals, gypsies, mentally disabled people, and Jews were less important? Surely weren’t the Nazis who were put on trial guilty of the same thing? They did not standing up to a morally objectionable act because the people being harmed were less important.
We believe that they should have said that they would not follow an order that meant killing innocent people, even if it meant dying. So why didn’t these people stand up? Why didn’t Eichman just say no? Because he was a bad person. Because he was evil. Because he was brought up in a bad home. Because he had no morals. We can come up with a thousand reasons so that we don’t have to face the possibility that these could have been normal people are in many ways just like us. We don’t have to believe that normal people are capable of those types of crimes.
This however is not the case. Stanley Milgram wrote an article called “The Perils of Obedience.” In this article he talks about an experiment that he conducted to study obedience. He states, “The dilemma inherent in submission to authority is ancient…the question of whether one should obey when commands conflict.” The terrifying fact, which Milgram found out, was that a majority of people do obey commands even when their moral values may conflict. In this experiment ‘teachers’ were told to shock ‘learners’ when they answered word association questions wrong. Although the harm was not real the ‘teachers’ did not know that, and many still carried out the experiment to the maximum voltage, even though the ‘learners’ were screaming and sometimes not responding at all as if to play dead. Why? Because they were following orders. Not orders from Hitler, or Stalin, or your field commander, or even anyone with a weapon. They were following orders from a person wearing a white lab coat who said, “Go on with the procedure, please.” Now somehow I doubt that the individuals being asked to carry out the atrocities of the Holocaust in Nazi, Germany were asked half as nicely.
Yet, we do not accept the defense that the Nazis were just following orders. We want to hold someone responsible. Even though we see that in many ways those people may have been no different from you or me, or the people responsible for dropping the atom bombs, we need to hold someone accountable. In the Milgram experiment some people felt more comfortable knowing that they would not be held responsible for what happened, they were more willing to continue the experiment knowing that someone else would be responsible if anyone was hurt, whether they knew it was wrong or not.
When we say that war criminals are different, when we see that they may not be, and that they deserve to die, we are dehumanizing them. We are discounting them as people because of the things they have done. When we dehumanize another person, when we nullify the value of another human life, then we are no different than anyone else who has ever devalued human life. When we do that we are in fact guilty of the same thing. It is easy to see why people wish to execute war criminals. They have hurt people we love or people we don’t know for reasons that are invalid to us. But once again, what is a valid reason to take a life? I do not think that war criminals should be forgiven merely because they admit their crime. Admitting wrongness does not constitute the necessity of complete forgiveness.
It is our job when judging others for violating ‘natural laws,’ to make sure that we avoid violating them. When punishing war criminals we must not commit the same basic errors that they did. We must not dehumanize them or devalue their life, and justify it in the name of their crimes. Forgiveness? No, there is no reason to set people free who have seriously harmed others. Execution? No, it is important that if we wish to set ourselves apart from those who harm people, we are sure that we do not fall into the same traps. Punishment? Yes, people are justified in imprisoning war criminals for their crimes. Justice is a notion deeply engrained in all people, but in order to separate justice and from revenge we must ensure that justice is objective, careful not to reward the victors of a conflict, and cautious not to be hypocritical by violating the same basic natural laws as those who are accused of war crimes.

Jordan C. said...

to madmax,

First, your screen name...what are you mad about? Does your wife run the marriage? Did God not bless you with a normal human size brain, but instead an earthworm's? Not only are your comments ignorant, but you have multiple grammatical and spelling errors. If being gay is a choice, do you also believe that people choose to have AIDS or cancer? With people like you in this world, why would anyone want to be gay? Just wait for one of your children to "choose" to be gay and then let's hear it.

P.S. I'm Jewish. How does that make you feel?

Matt Colip said...

Madmax:

We all understand that you are an extremely religous person bound by the "laws of God" but that doesn't give you the right to lable homosexuals in such a blunt, rude manner. You sir could be suddenly labeled as what one would call a religious fanatic, guided only by religous law and willing to stereotype those who don't fit your exact religious belief. Imagine if someone was quick to label you based on your beliefs in such a manner. If this thought comes offensive to you maybe you should think before you are so sudden to strike at a person's personal well being. I, and I'm sure others don't give anymore value to remarks given in a blunt offensive manner than those given in a more civilized fashion. Respect for one's remarks are given to those who can hold back harsh emotion during such contraversial discussion.

zahra said...

don

i understand what you have to say about africa but dont you think it is a little wrong for you to say that we should just leave africa to be the way that it is? i understand where you are comming form in terms of crony leadership, but is it fair to have millions of people suffer because its just too hard a problem to fix? is it not the respnsbility of the rich countries, the countries that developed themselves at the cost of causing africa to become underdeveloped to help?

zahra

Anonymous said...

madmax

i think that you extremely ignorant. firstly, just naming all homosexuals to be sinners??? the last time i checked, sinners commit crime - crimes like rape, murder, stealing..... and to like someone of the same sex to me is NOT a sin. i think that you are just insecure, maybe something to do with the way that you were brought up or something that you are trying to avoid - why dont you try to open up your mind a little instead of judging people by their sex preference - you may learn something

Dr. D said...

Re. Anon, Madmax etc.:
as much as I find MadMax's comment's personally offensive, I do agree with Matt that we must address his perspective in a respectful manner -- unless we want to appear as arrogant and intolerant as he. I
think what is most offensive about what MadMax's suggests is that homosexuals are the same as criminals -- and that their "sin" is worse than say many of the other sins that people including other Christians commit on a daily basis. I'm sure MadMax is not free of sin. So why doesn't he follow what his bible says..something along the lines of "he who is free of sin, throw the first stone" (I'm sure MadMax can correct my incorrect quotation)...
As Jordan C reminds us....God does work in mysterious ways Mad Max, so be careful what you condemn.

MadMax said...

To Jordan C., Matt Colip, and Anonymous

Well I guess that I've been put in my place by some well meaning, bleeding hearted liberals who would be perfectly ok with a homosexual priest, (or in Jordan C.'s case a rabbi) teaching Sunday school to their children. What are you going to do when the kids come home telling you that they sat on the Priest's lap?

Jordan C. and anonymous: You asked the question what makes me mad, as in MadMax. The answer is the people who take the message from God and twist it to whatever meets their needs. For example, it's clearly stated in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. You and others have tried to make it acceptable and something other than a sin. Interesting and safe but still not right.
Matt, the only thing that I have to say to you is that I tell it like it is, you should try it sometime. This might help you get more dates.
To all of you I’m sorry if this offends your sensibilities but, as a great man once said, "I'm an equal opportunity offender."

Matt Colip said...

Madmax,

Telling it like it is doesn't mean disrespecting everyone but the insanely ignorant. Let us conversationalists, the rest of us who respect the opinions of others continue. And honestly Madmax, what are you talking about getting more dates? Get out and see the world beyond your eyelids, I think you'd learn a lot.

Zahra:

I don't think it's fair to leave millions to suffer at the hands of corrupt leaders. It is our responsibility to get out and help those who need it, in their own terms, meaning, we shouldn't go out and make every country into microcosm USA's if the people don't want to be exactly like us, but I think if they are dying because of a lack of basic needs, education, healthcare, clean water, like the overwhelming majority of Africa, then most definately yes, I think it's our responsability as the developed world to help the underdeveloped.

I'm curious to hear what else you have to say about the issue of the developed world helping the underdeveloped.

Do you support the idea of helping the underdeveloped under the specific needs of the countries being helped, or do you think it's best to model those who are helped after the US?

Meg L said...

MadMax

As James said:
"This royal law is found in the Scriptures: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself'. If you obey this law, you are doing right. But if you treat one person as being more important than another, you are sinning. You are breaking God's law. A person who follows all of God's law but fails to obey even one command is guilty of breaking all the commands in that law...So you must show mercy to others, or God will not show mercy to you when he judges you. But the person who shows mercy can stand without fear at the judgment"(James 2:8-13)

Sarahm

I agree with your argument. I think you made a good point when you said "It is our job when judging others for violating ‘natural laws,’ to make sure that we avoid violating them." We must not dehumanize war criminals by executing them or we are devaluing life just as they did. Its easy to say this because I have never been a victim of a war crime or been personally touched by one. But I'd like to think that if I were a victim I would still feel this way.

Dana T said...

To Madmax

So you said that you don't want your children to be in the company of sinners...just a quick question, have you ever masturbated? Because technically, that is a sin. Thanks

P.S. Wait Jesus...have you come back to rescue us!!!

zahra said...

matt colip

i am not really sure what you are asking.
i do feel that the developed world has a responsibility with helping the underdeveloped. if you look back to colonialization, part of the reason as to why africa is underdeveloped is due to the colonial legacies. i feel that the developed world still exploits the vulnurable - it is fine to set up multi national companies, but if nothing remains in the country, then there is no point. on the other hand, i do not agree with the exportation of democracy - there are some countries that are just not fit for this.

zahra

Matt Colip said...

Zahra,

My last question to you was a little vague. I guess what I was trying to ask was that there are people who think that the US is the supreme and only way to model a success story. I personally feel this thought to be untrue, but we all have our own opinions. I was trying to ask whether or not you felt that if indeed we put forth a "real" effort to help African nations if you think we should make them all multi-democraticies based off of capitalism like ourselves, even if, in some hypothetical situation a nation didn't want to be a democracy. I ask because it seems like the US is only interested in spreading our specific ideals such as in Iraq. We are trying to make Iraq follow the same basic roots of democracy as we follow. Do you think we should help nations that don't want to follow our model of governance?

This question is a little far fetched. I hope it's a little clearer this time around.

S.Adams said...

I happened on this site and I should tell you that I am not a student at F&M so forgive me for my lack of eloquence. I am however a citizen who believes in human rights for all. Many of the comments I found to be bright and refreshing others I found to be unfortunate in that they seem to perpetuate hatred toward gays. To answer the question that I’m sure is burning in your minds yes I am gay.
I am a gay citizen who is trying to fight a battle against twisted perversion that tries to demonize gays. We have all seen how Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have destroyed themselves by their hatred in this movement. They are the Religious Ultra-Right, and they would love to wipe gay people from the face of the earth. They try to pretend that gays serve no purpose on this earth and have never made contributions to humankind and that there are no gay heroes. They try to forget the bravery that was shown by Mark Bingham, one of the men who, in all likelihood, wrestled a plane to the ground in a field in western Pennsylvania.
Then there was the gay priest who worked for the New York fire department. This man gave his life while helping those in the World Trade Center. The valor he showed that day paled in comparison to the courage it took to serve the Catholic Church as an openly gay man. And so you see gay people do have their heroes and you will probably never hear about them. Our heroes are those who support the war against hatred and take pride in their patriotism. The ones who can stand up and say yes I am gay and I expect to have every right that heterosexuals are entitled to. I will fight the maniacs who despise us, that loathe our diversity and have contempt for our culture. There is no question, no backing down. I will defeat the messengers of hate and a brighter day will prevail for all.

Dr. D said...

To S. Adams:
I commend you for your honesty and your willingness to comment on our blog.
It's important to have a voice of reason and tolerance from outside -- not just the intolerant, sometimes ignorant comments of individuals who do not embrace diversity and the humanity of all.

zahra said...

matt colip

i do not favor the us exporting democracy in countries that are not ready for it. i definatly do not think that africa is ready for democracy since it lacks the pre requisites such as literacy, good economic base and general standard of living. one big problem for africa is corruption which is another reason as to why africa is not ready for a democracy since majority of the countries lack free and fair elections. on the other hand, if a country does not want democracy, and for a legitimate reason then the US should understand that. i feel that there are countries around the world that are not democracies but are functioning well whereby citizens do have their civil liberties and political rights. i do not agree with the US exporting its values because sometimes american values cannot be anothers values.

Iren Akyuz said...

To S. Adams:

I must say I'm relieved to find out that there are people like you who are not afraid to stand up for their beliefs, and willing to defend themselves no matter the circumstances. It is important not to say, "that's just another ignorant person and I won't be able to change his/her belief" and try to stand your ground in a respectable manner. And therefore, yes, I think you are a hero because a hero is not necessarily someone who fights physically, but someone who defends a cause with courage and strength.

And now for everyone else who is reading this:

I think that should be a lesson for all, because I know that every single one of us feels bad when they watch a movie about the sufferings of African children, or people being criticized and harassed because of their personal choices...but unfortunately feeling bad doesn't make the smallest difference in those people lives unless we do something about it. We're not talking about unpreventable, natural disasters that we cannot stop, but rather problems that we can help solve with reasonable resources and time. I do not want to sound like I'm spending my whole time working for human rights issues, this is a criticism for all especially for myself that i've come to realize, that if anyone reading this website made one small effort, it would be worth a lot. I guess I got a little carried away, but everytime I begin to lose hope, I see someone that hasn't, and that makes me believe it is still possible to make a difference.

I would like to finish my comment with a quote that I think madmax should ponder upon:
"When the dust settles and the pages of history are written, it will not be the angry defenders of intolerance who have made the difference. That reward will go to those who dared to step outside the safety of their privacy in order to expose and route the prevailing prejudices." Bishop John Shelby Spong

Matt Colip said...

Zahra,

I agree with you entirely.

Matt Colip said...

S. Adams:

I respect those who go up against the norm in situations that are so contraversial. Now days, it seems like it's harder and harder to voice opinions without strong backlash. The US used to pride itself with the idea of being free to speak and act out willingly as an individual. Now, it seems to be regressing. I too admire your honesty.

Matt Colip said...

Iren Akyuz:

Inspiring thought and quote.It's true, if we all focused a little bit of our efforts and time on the problems that are within our power to fix, we'd be in a lot better situation socially.

MadMax said...

To S. Adams

I can’t believe that you expect me to buy your nonsense that being an out of the closet gay person makes you a hero. That somehow you have miraculously jumped from you closet with your tights and cape and became Super Queer! The last time I saw a Gay Pride Parade there were a lot of men in tights but not a single super hero. I absolutely believe that you are an abomination to everyone who has the misfortune of being related to you. You are an embarrassment to them. You engage in practices that are immoral and inconsistent with a positive Christian life style. And HELL NO you are not entitled to any special rights, if fact I question the rights you currently have. You, and others like you have created a burden on our society with the cost of treating the Aids virus. Your culture of promiscuity and excessive drinking was documented thousands of years ago. Do you remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Didn’t God destroy it? You may think that you are a hero but I think you’re a zero!

Dr. D said...

To MadMax:

I don't know who you, or who you think you are -- but I think you are an S.O.B. How dare you put down someone else because they are different from you. And how dare you call yourself a Christian. Last time I checked, hatred was not a Christian value. You are a hateful, myopic, excuse for a human being. I think it's ironic that you would even dare put a comment on a web-blog titled, Human rights 4 all -- when you certainly do not believe in human rights at all -- if you did, you would be more respectful to your fellow human beings.

MadMax said...

To Dr. D.

Gee, I wonder what the “D” stands for. Here are some guesses; Disturbed, Disoriented, Disorganized, and so on……………..
What I really want to say to you Dr. D is that you are wrong to say that by virtue of the fact that I believe homosexuality to be immoral I am a hate monger and don’t believe in human rights. I in fact do believe in human rights. For example I believe that I have the right to feel that homosexuality is wrong and I do have the right to express this. I think that you have spent too much time working on third world countries, or perhaps living in Canada, and have forgotten that freedom of speech actually exists in this great country.

Dr. D said...

Mad Max:
There is a difference between free speech and hate speech. Yes, you do have the freedom to express your opinions -- no one is denying you that right -- but if you are so appaled by what is being said on this blog about homosexuals, then maybe you should exercise your free rights and stop reading it!
I may be from Canada, but I chose to come to the United States. Having said that, I am proud of my native land because they have in fact recognized that homosexuals are equal to heterosexuals and that they should have equal civil rights (these are not special rights) Who has the greater freedom?

Anonymous said...

madmax

freedom of speech exists but not in terms of bringing others down!!! and i agree with Dr D - you call yourself a christian but you are full of hatred and christianity does not support hatred. you need to open up your eyes - you are too ignorant to be commenting on a human rights blog when you are preventing others from expressing their sexuality and identity. and you comment on what others intials stand for - look at yourself - MADMAX - i think that it tells us something about your character. and how dare you judge people and have the odassety to call yourself an individual who beleives in human rights - the last time i checked, human rights accepted people as who they are - not hate them for having relations with the same sex!!!
for gods sake open up your mind!!

Dr. D said...

As a group, we've discussed whether humans are "programed" to commit human rights abuses or to more generally "hate". I wonder, given "Mad-Max's" comments, why he seems to hate homosexuals? Was he programed that way-- taught, socialized, had an experience that made him hate homosexuals? With the recent decision by the Catholic Church to ban homosexuals from the priesthood, are they sending a message to Americans -- to the world -- that it is okay to discriminate againsts homosexuals?

Whatever the case, I want to address another issue that is now very topical, and relevant to our previous discussions. A new report about detainee abuse in Iraq has just surfaced -- suggesting that US soldiers were encouraged to torture and abuse prisoners. How does this fit into Zimbardo's prison studies? One US soldier documents in a recent washingtonpost article, "Some days we would just get bored so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid"... "We did that for amusement"... Were soldiers just responding to the situation? Shoudl individual soldiers be held accountable for their actions?
Which brings us, finally, to this weeks student contributions on the question of whether all Germans were responsible for the Holocaust. It happened a long time ago, but it is still hauntingly familiar....

Matt Colip said...

I'd like to say a few things.

Madmax,

You do have the right to express your thoughts about homosexuals and any other issue that you wish for that matter. What disgusts me is how you are saying your thoughts. None of us will neccessarily fire back at you for your opinions, even though some of us, including myself, strongly disagree with you, but it's the way for which you are saying your thoughts that, I think, is unexceptable. Stay in the conversation if you must, but stop distorting our's with your immature expressions of thought through hatred.

Dr. d,

In response to your last posting. I think that each individual soldier should be held accountable for what they did if they were doing it out of boredem. Boredem "play" is not proper professional conduct. I don't agree with any means of torture or humiliation and those who participated in it, even if it was government issued should be punished, even at the top of the leadership chain. If we, the US, want to try and justify ourselves as being there, Iraq, to "fight terrorism" we MUST maintain a sense of higher repect for human life. It seems hipocritical to me for us to say that we are fighting those who disrespect life when we turn around and humiliate/disrespect the lives of others. The people responsible should be punished, even the "high power" people in government who mandated such treatment.

I don't think that all German's were responsible for the Holocaust. I think that all military members where. Even if some of them thought it was wrong, if they participated in it on someone elses orders they are still responsible. No matter how trained someone is to think otherwise about human life, we are all still humans, not machines. That being said, all German military personel that didn't withdraw their military status upon learning about the holocaust autrocities should be held responsible.

Jon Appel said...

Madmax or should we all call you ‘madman’--
I feel it necessary to say a few things in response to this man’s incredibly boorish and disrespectful comments. Especially in a forum of human rights how can you make these remarks? Expressing your feelings is one thing – attacking those that others hold dear to them is entirely different. My mother once asked if I had to be blind, deaf or dumb. I chose deaf so I could block out unintelligent remarks like the ones coming out of your mouth for weeks on end. Apparently you’re blind and dumb, and deaf to your own words! How are you so blind? Additionally, how can you disrespect an intellectual individual such as Dr. D? It doesn't matter if she's gay or straight, she's a well-trained individual with intelligence that you obviously lack. I'm a Jewish, does that mean you'll hate me too? Uh oh. I didn't know 21st century American was worse to gays that 15th century Spain was the Jews. Oh wait, you probably don't know about "the other 1492" because you're just ignorant, along with many other lovely qualities. Like Dr. D, I was always led to believe that Christian doctrine taught tolerance towards you fellow man or woman. So what if the bible condones homosexuality. We all know that religion was conceived because mankind has an innate fear of the unknown and something was needed to fill the void. Moreover, Christianity sprang from Judaism and no Jews condone homosexuality the way you radical do! So, in essence RELIGION IS INVALID IN 21ST CENTURY AMERICA.
You're type of ignorance and malevolence in this matter is indeed disgusting. It's these types of beliefs that ruin the ideals on which the American Republic was founded. Democracy is a wonderful thing - like intelligence. TRY READING A BOOK OTHER THAN THE BIBLE FOR ONCE.

Now, in response to Doctor D’s posting on the unjust treatment of POW’s in Iraq. It is almost sickening to me to think about. There is no excuse for the abuse of human life and rights to the extent that our soldiers did, especially because we are over there to promote democracy. So, my answer is YES; every individual soldier should be held accountable for his or her actions. Furthermore, their commanding officers should be held accountable because they did not step in to stop these atrocities.
Now, to discuss the Holocaust, or as it called in Hebrew, “ha shoa,” meaning catastrophic upheaval. I feel that it is not right to blame the German population for the atrocities of World War II perpetrated by their government, who was led by a madman. It is too accusatory to pin this on them just as it wouldn’t be right to blame the American people for the wrongs the soldiers did in Iraq. The real problem of the Holocaust was that certain nations stood idly by as Hitler rose to power and became increasingly more angry and power hungry as his tenure as leader continued.

Thomas said...

I question the conception that many of you, especially Madmax, have of Christianity. For one, there are many different types of Christianity. Being a Catholic myself, I can only speak for my particular sect of Christianity. Also, please recognize that it’s impossible to explain the complexity of Catholicism, religion, and current politics in a blog entry, so I’m going to undoubtedly do a bad job.

Yes, Catholics tend to believe that homosexuality is a sin, but we also believe that we cannot just call homosexuals “evil people” and leave it at that. The Catholic faith teaches us to not live of this world, but rather to give up ourselves to God. A lot of people follow this teaching both because they believe there is something bigger than themselves but also sometimes because they want to get into Heaven. Part of living for God is to stay away from worldly things, such as idolization of material goods (greed), promiscuity, hatred, or want. There is a reasonably justifiable stereotype that homosexuality, birth control, and abortion all lead to promiscuity (yes, I’m aware that there are plenty of exceptions but this stereotype does hold true for at least a large percentage of the time). All of these we believe are crimes against God, because it we don’t think it was part of God’s design. But it’s extremely un-Catholic to go out and condemn the man that does any of these things (the whole judge not lest ye be judged thing). Catholics believe that everyone (including themselves) is a sinner, so how can we say that we’re any “better” or “holier” than anybody else. We can’t, and generally we don’t. And if you ever see a Catholic who does, it’s either because he’s not following the teachings, or he was never actually taught them (the Church has generally done a bad job in teaching true Catholicism on a large scale in the last century).

Most of anti-homosexual rhetoric that comes from the “religious right” actually comes from televangelists. A very large percentage of televangelists, however, are essentially frauds (though many, like Billy Graham, are not). Televangelists like Benny Hinn (whose “ministry” brings in $150 million dollars a year), Paul and Jan Crouch (who own Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest broadcasting system in the world), Kenneth Copeland, James Ewing (who owns a “church” that uses U.S. Census data to send mailings that ask for donations to the poorest neighborhoods in), the infamous Robert Tilton, and Mike Murdock all own multi-million dollars mansions, have at least one private jet, and take in personal benefits totaling millions of dollars a year. The fact that they pay for all this using “church” donations shows you the kind of people that they are – living luxurious lives using money given to them by the poorest of the poor. And they are the ones fueling the anti-homosexual policies of the United States. Remember that whole Sponge-Bob is gay thing? Televangelist James Dobson came up with that and then all the televangelists joined in on the idea because it increased the number of donations that they were receiving. The legitimate institutions like the Catholic, Methodist, and Lutheran Churches may view homosexuality as a sin, but they strongly discourage any type of attack, violent or verbal, against homosexuals. Again, “judge not lest ye be judged.”


Oh, and by the way. God destroyed Sodom not because there were homosexuals there, but rather because everybody there cared more about the things that they owned than they cared about each other. He attacked the greed that all (emphasis on the “all”) of the citizens had. If sins could be rated (as Dante attempted to do), greed is actually worse than sodomy. Just an interesting thought…

Again, I apologize for the incoherency of this entry. If any of you would like me to explain further on anything I said here, just let me know. Thanks.

Noor M said...

To Dr.D: I think American soldiers torturing prisoners is unacceptable and they must be put to trial. It is unacceptable that despite having found no "weapons of mass destruction" the United States is still wrecking havoc in Iraq and mistreating prisoners is such a way. These soldiers represent America and their behavior must be appropriately dealt with. It would certainly reflect extremely poorly on the United States if these soldiers were not held accountable. The more I learn, the more I realize that in the world we have created all that matters is to protect oneself and fullfill ones desires. If we emphazised the collective good a little more maybe such atrocities would not occur. I wonder if that is even possible?


If you put yourself in the shoes of someone from the third world, what impression would you have of America? What would you think about the people who ran this country? And what about the people who live there? Generalizations and stereotypes, however harmful they are, are prevelant in everyone's minds. It does not take a stretch of imagination to think what perception the rest of the world has about the United States today. While I have met plenty of great people in this country and do not subcribe to the view I cited above, fact remains that the government of this country (which is supposed to represent this population) is making costly decisions and people are paying for these decision with their lives.

Amy Del said...

Are we all so dissimilar? Throughout the past few centuries, people have sought to find differences in people to justify systematic exclusionary practices, or to remove guilt from the human race at large. By noting that there is something inherently different about a certain set of people, the Germans, is convenient at best, and cowardly at worst. By blaming atrocities on the other, we mentally absolve ourselves of guilt. In an increasingly global community, this excuse is a tired one. To say that the German people in the first half of the 20th century were intrinsically dissimilar from others in their capabilities for evil is disgraceful. To fully talk about who was responsible for the holocaust, we need to discuss those that were informed of what was happening, German, French, Russian, American, or otherwise.

To clarify my point I would like to use the example of the Throm family of Heidelberg, Germany. The seven Throm siblings were all highly educated, upper class, professional, deeply religious, Christian Germans. They were the type of citizen that Hitler exalted as the core and future of the German people. When they learned through friends, family, and neighbors of how the Nazi party was subjugating and abusing the Jewish population of Germany in the build up to the Holocaust, they were shocked. The six brothers mobilized and began smuggling Jews out of Germany, using their family’s resources, to America and other European nations. They succeeded in saving scores of Jewish lives from the wrath of genocide. Ultimately, their actions were discovered, and five of the brothers were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the sixth was enlisted in the German Army and sent to Siberia. These brothers were objectors to the doings of the Nazi party, and put their lives at stake to save others. Their only surviving sibling was my grandmother, Maria Throm. While this is one example, many other Germans put themselves in harm’s way to save others. In contrast, world leaders of the time, with full knowledge of what the Nazi party was doing and many more resources at their disposal, stood by and did nothing.

Throughout the time building up to the events during WW2, leaders of many western nations were aware of a mounting assault on the daily lives of German Jews, and the problematic dictatorship of Adolph Hitler. Hannah Arendt’s theory of the “banality of evil” applies to these leaders as well as the ordinary Germans that got caught up in the nationalistic frenzy leading up to WW2. Although many foreign leaders were aware of what was going on, they only became involved when it was politically expedient for them to do so (i.e.: America entering the war after Pearl Harbor. America never actually declared war on Germany. America declared war on Japan, and by default engaged with Germany.). The people being maligned and slaughtered were never a concern enough to warrant one of the most powerful nations in the world to take action. Perhaps this self-preservation is a “natural” response for human beings. That being said, how can we hold ordinary Germans to standards that we outsiders do not hold ourselves to?

Goldhagen argues that there is an “eliminationist anti-Semitism” element inherent in German society, and this factor alone under the guidance of Adolph Hitler, brought 6 million European Jews to death. His assertions are weak in that he does not account for; the 6-7 million non-Jewish Soviet Citizens (including Ukrainians, Bela-Russians, and Russians), 3.3 million Soviet P.O.W.’s, 3 million non-Jewish, highly-educated Poles, ¼ of Europe’s Roma population, and the German “asocials” – people with birth defects, unusual physiques, and homosexuals who were also killed by Hitler. Where was the incentive inherent in German society to slaughter their neighbors, friends and family? Clearly, it is not possible to separate the German population as historically itching to do away with Jews.

Noted as an extremely compelling and powerful speaker, Adolph Hitler drew upon the insecurities of the German public to garner support for his agenda. As Mr. Scholtz, the former German soldier who spoke in class, noted, Hitler’s political agenda strengthened the nation’s infrastructure, economy, and resolve. Through his leadership, a susceptible German public followed Hitler’s word in a time of destitution following the Versailles treaty, which left a formerly powerful nation as a shell of what it once was. The German people looked for a cause and leader to rally around, and Hitler provided that. Many people involved in the national front were not fully aware of what was happening to many of Hitler’s ‘undesirables.’ How then, can we blame each and every German? Those people (individuals, groups, nations) who have knowledge of events, and the power to make change are the people that are ultimately responsible.

Reb Ash said...

Hitler, Nazis, Germans, soldiers, citizens, men, women, children. During any time of war, hardship or destruction there is always a race to find those responsible. The constant need to put the blame on someone or a group helps us to feel better about what happened. While Hitler's dream of annihilating those who did not fit into the “Aryan race,” his objective to completely eradicate Jews, is something so unthinkable that many could not even believe it true, we cannot lose sight of the other factors that may have played into the loyalty to the Nazi party.

Nazi, in fact, stems from the word National. From a direct interpretation, one may possibly assume that all Germans were Nazis, in one way or another. In turn, it might be presumed that, by joining Hitler, those Germans directly aided the situation, or even, by not stopping him, the circumstances were not being helped either. This is the easy way out, a simple method of pushing aside blame in order to concentrate on the complete and utter devastation.

Having lost most of my relatives as a result of Hitler's goal of extermination, hearing the stories first hand, meeting with victims and seeing the unthinkable horror through video and pictures, it seems easy enough to simply place the blame on all Germans. While I am not, by any means, making light of this tragic historical event, I am trying to think objectively, pushing aside any personal feelings I might have. Though it sounds cliché, when you point your finger at someone, there are three more fingers pointing back at you. So, can you honestly blame someone merely because of his or her nationality?

What about those Germans who helped the Jews, those who were killed in trying to assist anyone they could in escaping their death. Most people look to Oscar Schindler, as an example, a German businessman who became famed for his aid in saving approximately 1,200 Jews in escaping their horrific fate, but seem to forget the countless Germans who were never named in their selfless acts of support. Even if a German did not risk their lives to help others, but also did nothing to aid the Nazi party in any way; should they be held accountable also? Finally, what about those soldiers, blind to the gassing and torture, held ignorant of the concentration camps; are they blameworthy?

If we are to blame someone according to their nationality, it is then, that we see those three fingers pointing back at us. We must then blame all white Americans for slavery in America, and all Americans for the Japanese interment camps. Not forgetting the massacre of those natives who were here, in America, first.

If we choose to only place blame on some Germans and not others, would there then be degrees of blame? Eichmann giving orders from behind a desk, Hitler the creator of this monster event, soldiers nowhere held ignorant to concentration camps but still a part of the Nazi party and Hitler youth, and those who carried out the gassing, torture, etc…what forms of punishment and what level of blame is to be place on who? Straying from Germany, what about other nations that did not lend a hand, or if they did, they waited until Hitler was already out of control?

Not living through this horrific butchery, I don't see how anyone can make these decisions. Throughout history, since the Holocaust, there have been studies to try and figure out why people, ordinary citizens, executed these acts of repulsion and horror. Through Stanley Miligrams' experiment, we learned that the common man can easily succumb to blind obedience to authority, without consciously realizing how destructive they are being. Through social pressures and propaganda many Germans were forced into something they wouldn't normally be a part of; partaking in acts that either directly or indirectly aided Hitler and his plan. We must not close our eyes to these facts, thus it only seems just that we learn from mistakes of the past, rather than placing the blame on an entire nation of people. Browning, whose ideas seem to agree with Miligram states that, “ordinary men can murder under social pressure.” Unless in the exact situation that each and ever German was in, it does not seem fair to assume one will know exactly how they would act.

Through stigmatization and labels, we are merely dehumanizing an entire nation of people. Stripping them of their individuality, while not in such a disgustingly violent way, but psychologically with a similar intent to create the notion that, all members of that group are but one mind and soul. Mr. Schultz reinforced the reality that Hitler played on the insecurities of a country in a severe depression. His charisma and the German people's need for a leader fit together perfectly; each piece in the reality of this time period in Germany fit directly into Hitlers' plot. It only seems fair to place blame on those who have some sort of choice or control. While consequences were severe, there is still a choice in every action. We cannot simply blame all Germans, nor can we ignore those who could have stepped in earlier, but didn't. It seems it is only those who had some form of strength to influence, both in promoting this extermination or having the ability to make a difference and didn't, those are the ones to blame.

Joe P said...

Since achieving independence, most African countries have struggled with accomplishing economic growth and development. Structural Adjustment was the answer presented by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, two western financial institutions. These organizations would like to argue that these programs helped set up Infrastructure and point developing nations in the direction of economic prosperity. However, this is not the case for most participants in the Structural Adjustment programs. These programs have sent many countries that have been helped spiraling to large amounts of debt, decreased already lacking public institutions, and increased the innabilities of providing sufficient food levels for domestic use.
The basic concept of these programs revolved around fulfilling certain requirements in order to receive loans. These requirements were based around the Neo-Classical orthodox paradigm for development, which stresses the ideas of Smith and Ricardo of free markets and comparative advantage. Ultimately this could be the problem with the Structural Adjustment Programs. Some of the requirements of the SAPs were privatization, government spending cuts, open markets, currency devaluation. If a country undertook these steps, they qualified for loans that were meant for specific economic purposes such as buidling of damns or ports. Some of the projects did lead to growth and development but only in the short-run. Interest Rates sky-rocketed and countries sank further into debt.
If one were to look at debt levels throughout the world, they, not surprisingly, would see that some of the largest indebted countries are found in Africa. Large portions of these debts were built up through loans received during the period of their Structural Adjustment Programs. Ghana, for instance, increased its national debt level from $1 billion in 1983 prior to the SAP’s, to $6 Billion in 2000. Indebtedness hinders any countries growth.
Often these high debt levels force the countries to put a good portion of their GDP towards their repayment. According to The Globalization of Poverty, “In 1997 Zimbabwe was spending seven times more on debt servicing than on health and education.” This money is greatly needed for reinvestment in the economy, or in public institutions in order to help stimulate more growth. This process of indebtedness has been curbed for several countries with the support of debt relief by the G8, and hopefully will continue to relieve others.
There is also an enormous population of undernourished people found in Africa. People are going hungry in many of these countries, yet they still export food fat very loq prices. The emphasis for an open market and exporting of “cash crops” has contributed to the increasing number of undernourished people. Tanzania, for instance, has grown its number of exports and GDP over the past ten years, but the number of undernourished people has increased from 37% to 44% in 1992 and 2002. If structural adjustment did not promote exporting these foods, they may have been used domestically for the starving population. One could argue there is no incentive for the increase in production without money, but I think having enough food for a starving population is incentive.
Government spending was also a point in which Structural Adjustment damaged the future of many of these countries. The programs required the countries to cut government spending as much as possible. This led to large cuts in education and health care, as stated earlier, in the case of Zimbabwe, which they had spent seven times more on debt servicing than health care and education. It is very obvious these are not in favor of development and growth. As a result of these cuts, according to the Human Development report, Zimbabwe has one of the highest prevalence of HIV, Malaria cases, and tuberculosis in the world. Money needs to be redirected from debt servicing to health-care sectors if it is not already too late for that.
These programs have done far worse than good. Yes, SOME infrastructure was built with the SAPs, but many countries are faced with even more problems now than they did before the programs. It leads one to question the need for an economy based on free markets and comparative advantage. Debt forgiveness is a good start to helping these countries, but that does not reverse the damage already done. The money must be invested into the economy and into public institutions, such as schools and hospitals. Policies must be changed away from those inherent in the Structural Adjustment requirements.

Additional Web-sites about Atructural Adjustment:

Globalization of Poverty
http://www.doublestandards.org/sap1.html

How Structural Adjustment Worsens Poverty
http://www.essentialaction.org/imf/saps.htm

John K. said...

Get Off Your Arse!

We pride ourselves on being a tolerant and multicultural society. These values however are being quietly eroded by the culture of fear and suspicion that has been helped and promoted by those enemies that are in our midst. I’m talking about the religious ultra right. Those morons who spread hate like you and I spread soft butter on bread. I challenge all of you to start a campaign of involvement to counter this hate. Lets find out together how much we can accomplish. It is time to give a wake up call to all who are complacent and the apathetic and say “GET OFF YOUR ARSE” they must be stopped!

Use this blogg to spread your ideas of how we can get involved to help stop the hatred and create human rights 4 all.

Dr. D said...

To John K.
As much as I may share some of your feelings of frustration, I don't think that it is productive to focus on just one segment of society, like the ultra Christian right and demonize them. This blog is not intended to be used to promote hatred or demonization of one group -- whether they are homosexuals or the ultra Christian right. What would you have "us" do?

John K. said...

To Dr. D.

I have no interest in promoting the ideals of the Ultra Christian Right nor do I want to expose how they have added to the decay of a rights protected society. Instead I would like to champion an effort whereby people become involved in various organizations that are not only dedicated to the destruction of hatred, but also to the creation of a more tolerant society. I’m sure that there are organizations that would welcome this sort attention. As I said in my past comment it is time for all of us to GET OFF OUR ARSES! It’s not good enough to talk the talk it’s now time to walk the walk. This includes you Dr. D. Perhaps you can come up with some links to organizations that advocate ideals of a multicultural society. I for one would be interested in finding out how I could become more proactive.

Shivani said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.