05 March 2009

Broadsheet Rag on Iran

Challenging post at TBR, criticizing British comedians for coming out in favour of the rights of Baha'is in Iran.

I've made similar arguments in parallel cases, but I don't deny it's a difficult question.

This instance is a particularly good example, because Baha'is are so terribly, terribly nice.  At least in my experience, they are so ridiculously inoffensive they seem like a parody.  They make Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor look like Torquemada (OMG he said Ecclesial Community!)

Almost anyone can have sympathy with their position in The Islamic Republic of Iran.  I can't deny it would be nice if they had full equality there.  Hell, it would be nicer still if they ran the place. That's my opinion, and after all, everyone's entitled to one.  Including Bill Bailey.

But just as it's hard, as a practical matter, to criticise some private domestic activity without, ultimately, threatening to ban it, it's also difficult to criticise the internal policy of another country without, ultimately, threatening that country's sovereignty.  The questions "should Bahai's have equality in Iran" and "should we take action against Iran, including military action if it would work, isn't too expensive, and nothing else will succeed" are, logically, quite separate.  The assumptions of political debate are such, however, that they inevitably become one.  The correct view, that the Baha'is should be better treated but it is not my job, even as a voter and citizen, to rule the entire world according to my infallible whim, is so unfamiliar as to be incomprehensible to the average "Question Time" viewer.

Peace and Justice are generally good things.  Sometimes it is necessary to create justice in order to achieve peace.  But at other times it is better to accept an unjust peace than to fight.  It is not always easy to tell which situation you are in, but sovereignty is a rule of thumb which set a default assumption - that injustice in foreign countries is not my fight.

No comments: