Cheradenine Zakalwe of Islam versus Europe has once again taken up the issue of “human rights” as the term is employed by members of the Counterjihad movement. He broached this theme several weeks ago, with specific reference to the Brussels Conference, which at that point had just concluded.
His latest piece approaches the same topic in a more general way, and raises a number of important questions that we would all do well to consider. The distinction between negative rights — the right to be left alone by the state, the right to be secure in one’s person and property, the right not to detained without due process — and positive rights — the right to “free” health care, the right to a job, a state-backed minimum income for every citizen, etc. — is crucial. At bottom, it is the difference between liberty and authoritarian socialism.
It is quite true that the term “human rights” has an alarming plasticity of meaning, and is bandied about without being properly defined. It is also true that the concept is frequently abused for corrupt political ends, to prop up the most illiberal regimes, expand bureaucracy, and strengthen intrusive state surveillance — all ostensibly to protect human rights.
Mr. Zakalwe is right to question the extent to which members of the Counterjihad subscribe to the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But how monolithic are we in this regard? Do we, the opponents of sharia and Islamization, form a bloc that has a uniform and consistent position on “human rights”?
I can only speak for myself: I hold the UDHR in relatively low esteem. Parts of it are fine — the normal guarantees of liberty that one would demand and expect. But there’s also a lot of socialist claptrap, such as this:
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23. (2)
Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
And even this:
Article 25. (1)
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
So the UDHR is not a document that I, as a red-blooded American patriot who reveres the Bill of Rights, would ever promote.
But I am not a European, and Europe is still almost uniformly socialist. There is no respite from socialism in Europe. From Oslo to Athens, from Helsinki to Lisbon: they all seem to love the paraphernalia of the welfare state.
As the statist economies of the Eurozone circle the drain, voters turn out in droves to throw out the center-right rascals and install the True Socialists — as if more socialism would cure the European Disease.
The above is just the prelude for a discussion of Cheradenine Zakalwe’s “Questions for the Human Rights Fanboys and Fangirls Within the Counterjihad Movement”. Leaving aside his contentious and adversarial tone — after all, this is the blogosphere, so we’re used to that — does what he say have merit? Are his generalizations valid? Are his questions worth addressing?
The answers are: a qualified yes; no; and definitely yes.
I’ve omitted some of his text for brevity’s sake; visit his blog to read the whole thing. Passages that deserve special attention have been bolded:
Any member of the Counterjihad movement who supports the idea of human rights must take a public position on the way the idea has been implemented in modern Europe. An abundance of news reports make it clear that human rights judges are facilitating the islamisation of Europe and its demographic conquest by third-worlders generally.
Why “must” we take a public position, within parameters defined by Islam versus Europe? I have made my own position abundantly clear many times, for anyone who cares to read it. What else is necessary?
Presumably, Counterjihadists do not support this. Yet still they do support the idea of human rights.…
Who are “they”? What, specifically, do they support?
Is it the UDHR? Or something else?
…There has to be at least some doubt about the moral validity of supporting an abstract system of ideas while distancing yourself from all its real-world implementations. As I’ve said before, this is like the diehard Communists who claim real Communism has never been tried yet. […] But let’s skip this point for now and, for the sake of pursuing the discussion, generously concede that these Counterjihadists may support human rights without bearing any blame for all of its damaging real-world implementations.
This is a valid point. Anyone who supports all those loathsome socialist clauses of the UDHR is, consciously or otherwise, aiding and abetting those forces that are destroying Western Civilization.
The only question is: How many “Counterjihadists” actually do so? And who are they?
Go ahead and name names. We’re grownups; we can take it.
Even then the very fact that Counterjihadists distance themselves from the way the human rights racket operates in modern Europe undermines the validity of the concept itself. Our interpretation of what human rights should be differs from that of the judges, they would presumably retort. But the whole idea of human rights is that they embody fundamental moral entitlements. If decent, rational people can disagree about what these moral entitlements are, it suggests they are something less than fundamental. But if human rights do not embody primal moral claims but simply competing political agendas, the idea itself loses all ethical force. It becomes clear that human rights, like war of old, has simply become a continuation of politics by other means. But the appropriate way to pursue political agendas is through the ballot box. And the cheapened concept of human rights is revealed to be no more inherently deserving of respect than the average party political manifesto issued by the latest gang of crooks in power.
Once again, this is hard to argue with. Human rights, as commonly defined by “international law”, are nebulous and ill-delineated. They are widely abused by the governments of all Western (and non-Western) nations for corrupt and self-seeking purposes.
But how much of the Counterjihad espouses such pernicious flim-flam? Everyone I work with spits on “international law”.
Did I miss something?
Furthermore, these human rights supporters who oppose the advance of Islam ought to explain how exactly it is that they envisage the idea of human rights operating in Europe. I realise that, like the multicultists they claim to oppose, their commitment to bringing betterment to the lives of non-Europeans is so profound that it must be awfully boring for them to have their attention dragged back to their own continent. […]
Precisely who is demonstrating his “commitment to bringing betterment to the lives of non-Europeans”?
Most of us would allow the Third World to either rot or prosper, without our help, as it sees fit. What did I miss?
If we’re all to be tarred with the same brush, we at least need to know who some of the alleged culprits are.
Now we get to the meat of Mr. Zakalwe’s essay. He posed the following questions in a single paragraph, but I have listed them separately so that they may be individually addressed.
Here are some questions that need to be answered. Do you agree with the standard formulations of human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights?
Except for the parts that agree with the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution: No.
If not, what version of human rights do you prefer?
See the answer immediately above.
Do you have a written formulation of what you believe our human rights are?
Do you believe that human rights should be justiciable in modern Europe?
Or said differently: do you believe that we should have human rights courts with the power to invalidate laws passed by elected governments?
If you believe human rights judges have got their interpretation of human rights wrong, how can you possibly justify creating an undemocratic monster with the power to invalidate laws?
I can’t, and I wouldn’t. Are you still beating your wife?
And once it has been created, and is making these “wrong” interpretations of human rights, what do you propose to do about it?
Since you have made it immune to democracy, because you don’t trust democracy […], what do you do when it starts to go rogue and make unsound decisions about issues critical to the future of Europe?
None of us really trusts democracy; we all know what it is capable of. But as far as I’m concerned, Sir Winston Churchill had the last word on that topic.
Next comes this assertion:
Your only strategy is to keep spreading anti-Islam propaganda in the hope that it will one day percolate through to the elites who comprise and appoint the human rights judges. But elite membership depends on public acceptance of the very moral ideals that are responsible for the islamisation of Europe. […]
This is not my only strategy, nor even my main one. Perhaps there is someone else in our movement who adheres to the stated plan, and could speak in defense of it. But not I.
There are never answers to these questions from the human rights fanboys and fangirls within the Counterjihad movement. There are no answers because there can be no answers. To even ask the questions is to expose the foolish inconsistency of the ideas and the fact that those who expound them haven’t properly thought the issue through. They are simply roping in the phrase “human rights” because it adds a bit of moral glamour to their cause and helps deflect accusations of racism/imperialism/islamophobia. But that’s not good enough. The idea that all religions are inherently deserving of respect is what is allowing Islam to make its advances. That idea comes straight out of the standard human rights charters. It’s not on our side. It’s what we’re fighting against.
Well, now there are some answers, at least from this one insignificant fanboy.
My guess, however, is that my answers are not good enough. They will fail the manifold rigorous tests of doctrinal purity, as they always have in the past.
I don’t claim to be an expert on the entirety of the Counterjihad movement, so I can’t knowledgeably determine whether Cheradenine Zakalwe is in fact fighting a straw man.
All I can address is my own little backwater of the movement, which happens to be libertarian rather than statist in its general character. If you examine the writings of Henrik Ræder Clausen, or listen to Lars Hedegaard’s talk in Brussels, you’ll discover a strong emphasis on individual liberty, negative rights, and the free market.
One can only presume that the real issue that sticks in Mr. Zakalwe’s craw is the use of the phrase “human rights” at the Brussels conference and in the Brussels Declaration. Even though there was no reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he may be forgiven for assuming that this was in fact what the framers of our Declaration intended.
But this is not the case. As one of the organizers of the Brussels event, I can attest to how much careful attention was given to the wording of the Brussels Declaration, to make it compatible with both American values and those commonly held in Europe.
One of the clauses I read out in Brussels reasserted that “Human rights and liberties are universal, individual, equal, inalienable, and self-evident irrespective of philosophical, cultural or religious considerations, as a matter of long-held principle.”
There’s nothing in that text to justify the assertions made by Mr. Zakalwe in his essay. I wouldn’t have been willing to read it into the microphone if I weren’t ready to sign off on it.
For our larger purposes, however, the phrase “human rights” is actually useful, even though it conjures up the shade of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because the UDHR contradicts the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.
That’s right. Despite its odious socialist clauses, and regardless of its statism, the UDHR cannot coexist with the Cairo Declaration. The two documents are fundamentally incompatible.
For those who prefer to think strategically, the occasional invocation of the UDHR is actually a good strategy. All Western governments are signatories of it, which means that all of them have repudiated the OIC, the Cairo Declaration, and Shariah. By waving the UDHR in their faces, we force our dhimmi leaders to make a crucial decision: to assert the incompatibility of the Cairo Declaration with our most fundamental liberties, or to submit to Islam.
For that reason the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has its uses.
For myself, however, I prefer this:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
But until Islam is consigned to the dustbin of history, I’ll take what I can get.