My last blog noted that without freedom of speech, no other rights can be defended. I have been reminded that without life, no rights at all can be defended, so there must exist an inherent right to defend oneself. Sounds fair to me. Most human-rights professionals, though, say not. They take governments’ deprivation of human life as an abuse of the most fundamental right of all, on the grounds that without life, no other rights can possibly exist.
Enemies of state can be locked away in dark holes and tortured daily, while awaiting enough Amnesty International letters to set them free. Foreign troublemakers can be deported beyond the reach of all human-rights organisations, and even beyond their concern. But when you’re dead, you’re dead. No Amnesty letters can set you free, and no indignant lawyer can stop your expulsion. Punishment camps may be a living death, but they’re not the real thing.
The standard list (bill) of “human rights” appears in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by a voting majority of the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 as an ideal for all nations to aspire to. Not just aspire to, but actually work towards achieving: each member-nation of the UN within its own boundaries, and each keeping its fellow-members up to the mark.
The Declaration was drafted in the wake and aftermath of Germany’s recent wars of aggression, and was therefore supposed to be universal, not tribal -- supposed to apply to all humans, not just certain nationalities. In future, all nationalities were supposed to be equally protected. Aggressive wars were to be outlawed, since each nation had agreed not to take the lives of any humans, including nationalities not its own. The chief indictment at the Nuremberg War Trials of the Nazi defendants was not for the slaughter of the Jews, or Russian POWs, but for waging wars of aggression.
How ironic, then, that wars of aggression have become so common among the nations that provided the original prosecutors, and that their current governments despise the now-forgotten context in which the original bill of human rights was composed. If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, most NATO politicians and generals would risk being hanged. The changed circumstances make it difficult to argue for the right to life any more. It seems grotesque to criticise the application of “the death penalty” for domestic murderers in nations that have embraced the practice of mass-murdering unwitting foreigners without remorse.
The argument (for the right to life) has reverted to a tribal relevance. Our national governments may slaughter whom they like, but not their own nationals. Libyan civilians YES, local killers NO. For as long as we condone that policy, it seems trivial and unnecessary to try to protect the lives of local thugs. If we applaud the killers of innocent wogs and dagoes and rag-heads in faraway places, why not issue guns to every householder and tell him to take out every guilty mugger he can find. Watch the 1970s movie Death Wish, a model of encouragement for vigilante justice. “Go, and do thou likewise.”
Some ethnic communities are inherently more valuable than others. Our soldiers are heroes, theirs are cockroaches. We have the right to defend our lives and they don’t, even while we are breaking into their homes. Might is right. Right? Well, if might is indeed right, why can’t it be applied against an armed burglar in our homes? Hey, maybe he’s a Muslim. Then what? They don’t have rights, do they?