America’s response to the Turkish genocide of the Armenian can be described briefly.  Basically, it did nothing.  Woodrow Wilson thought it best not get involved incase this information would draw attention to the American people.  Wilson figured that since the Turks hadn’t done anything to American’s there was no reason to get the whole country all stirred up.  Wilson wanted to avoid public pressure to intervene in the war.  Even after all of Morgenthau’s efforts Wilson tried his best to stay “on the sidelines.” 

Ambassador Henry Morgenthau did not agree with this decision, he believed that America should get involved.  Since the Turks were disallowing Morgenthau to receive accurate information on the issues at hand, he was unable to report back to Washington.  After hearing the horror stories from the Armenians themselves, Morgenthau wrote to Washington with a chilling depiction of what was happening to Armenians.

Morgenthau was facing some challenging obstacles including national sovereignty.  It seems to me that he was bewildered by the idea that national sovereignty should allow the “race murder” of Armenians to continue without question just because it was considered a domestic affair.

Morgenthau had the New York Times publish stories on what was happening in Turkey.  I was outraged to read that the U.S. government did nothing, even after Morgenthau pleaded with them to basically just do the right thing!  He ended up getting help from outside sources and raised money and rallied for the cause.  He attempted to bring Armenian refugees to America but was unsuccessful.  His efforts continued on and on until he eventually left Constantinople after knowing the murder of $1 million people had been under his watch.

Talaat Pasha was a leader of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.  He was responsible for the mass murder and trauma caused to the Armenian people.  Soghomon Tehlirian eventually assassinated Talaat.  Tehlirian’s family was murdered or had disappeared during the Armenian genocide and he wanted to get revenge for his family.

I was questioning whether Britain would have cared about the Turkish massacres of Armenians if this were not a time of war?  Was this to discredit Turkey or to help the Armenians?  I later read the Lemkin believed that they only would intervene with political pressure or stratigic interest.  I find this to be very sad and also disturbing.  Unfortunately, genocide is not a thing of the past.  It continues today and more needs to be done.

The Evolution of International Human Rights pt. 1

According to the readings of Chapter 1, there is a major contradiction evident throughout history between religious and philosophical ideals about human rights and the practice of human rights.  Religious figures and philosophers have argued that humans are given certain unalienable rights as a part of the “natural law” that guides our existence and promotes harmony amongst the world.  Most religions focus on the meaning of human life and the duties we have to each other.  Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam all express ideals of a universal responsibility to treat each other with dignity, respect, and love. 

Philosophers began to discuss difficult questions about the sovereignty of individuals and the idea of “natural law.”  Unlike religion, philosophy examines questions about human value and nature through reason, exploration, and analysis.  A combination of philosophical ideals and explanations led to the belief that laws of nature could be applied to the human condition, providing a basis for society.  The theories behind religion and philosophy are not at all the reality of human rights.  In order for these ideals to become truth, major changes in society need to take place first. 

Religion and philosophy are not very helpful in guiding our understanding of the dichotomy between theory and practice.  Religious and philosophical ideals can be twisted and turned for the benefit of those needing to justify their contempt or lack of acceptance of human rights.  Religion has often been used as a weapon to describe the divine “nature of things.”  For example, Hinduism may argue that those being mistreated are in the lower caste due to divine law and that human rights do not apply to those in the bottom of society.  Rather than change these ideologies about the worth of an individual human life, religion and society have pushed for tradition.

 Those in power would have no reason to change the way things are.  As Lauren says, many rulers pushed for respect and fear of authority and created the culture around them to support their own personal interests.  Some critics of human rights have argued that a change will lead to social and political turmoil leading to instability.  By telling people that they have certain rights this would create chaos in the traditional order of things.  Ideas of human rights were and have been a threat to the interests of those with power and wealth.  Obviously religious and philosophical ideals are not enough to redefine the beliefs of society.

Rather than focus on the concepts of religion that preach to accept one as your brother or sister, society has remarkably been incapable of rejecting differences and embracing the idea of “oneness” amongst all humans.  Certain members of society have deemed people of different race, gender, sexual preference, economic status and even religion as inferior.  This is a reoccurring characteristic throughout humanity.

Citation: Lauren, Paul Gordon. The Evolution of International Human Rights. Chapter 1. 

                                      

Who’s responsible?

My professor told the class a story about her Intro to Human Development class.  She was disturbed by the classes response to a particular section of the textbook involving sexual development.  The class told stories of promiscuity and immorality amongst college students; and it seemed that the class  agreed that this behavior is increasing amongst children and young adolescents.

The students in my class had many things to say on the topic. My teacher asked, “do you agree with this, and why do you think this is happening?”  Many of the students hands reached high in to the air as they signaled that they had something to say on the matter.  Most of the students were in agreement that parents were solely responsible for the problem.  Many argued that parents allow their children to watch anything they please without any supervision or restrictions.  Although I agree to some extent, I have to acknowledge my own background.

My mother is a single parent.  She worked long hours after leaving my father.  Should it then be considered her fault that I was able to watch any television show I desired?  Is it the fault of the media for providing such trite?  Should my mother be blamed for the lack of educational television available on the TV?  Or is it her fault that she couldn’t monitor sufficient programs for a person of my age (at that time)?

The majority of the class insisted that the parents are to blame and media shouldn’t be censored in any way due to the first amendment.  I still disagree with this wholeheartedly.  Society is constantly shifting and the roles of parents in the house are changing.  The media needs to “check itself” and start applying ethics and morals to their programming.  The truth is, only 23% of Americans are even educated!!  We need better programming for those that can’t afford all the luxuries of education, and even those who do.  We need to change the role of the media so that mothers and fathers who have to work all day and night to feed their children don’t have to worry that their children are being educated by immoral television programming.

Just Saying.

BB.

A Bit of Light Reading

Indonesian minister “forced” to shake Michelle Obama’s hand:

http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/2010/11/09/handshake/index.html

Obstetric Violence (The Politics of Birth):

 http://feministing.com/2010/11/10/obstetric-violence-and-the-ongoing-movement-to-redefine-consent/

Not Free Speech:

http://feministing.com/2010/11/09/operation-rescue-member-found-guilty-for-wanted-posters/

Umm what?:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/08/rape-case-woman-appeal

Not Just Women’s Issues

Dan reclined, arms crossed, head stuffed into his neck, dozing off as the (what he called) “blah blah blah” lulled him to sleep. The “blah blah blah” is a group of young women chatting about the importance of putting career and education before boyfriends, feeling empowered by their own ambitions, and the importance of self-love. Dan’s lack of interest in women’s issues is not uncommon and is made apparent by his stentorian yawns, sighs and reclusive body language.  Even more common than a lack of interest is the tendency for the disinterested man to interpret a discussion about women’s issues as “man-hating.” Even though the conversation barely mentioned men and focused mainly on each woman’s individual goals and aspirations, Dan classified it as “women’s lib man hating stuff.”
     Every time I mention the appalling statistics on violence towards women, inequality of pay and health coverage etc, I am confronted with this label of man-hater. So, what is it about speaking up about issues women struggle with everyday that makes men think I hate them? The issue is about overcoming gender barriers, it’s not about man-hating, its about women-loving. It is about women overcoming obstacles that challenge us every day, with solidarity. The problem is that as long as men interpret conversations about women’s empowerment as threatening and damaging to men there will be no resolution to important issues of gender equality. This is why we need men. Women do not need men to provide, to forage for food, to protect (usually from other men), to tell them what to do, when do it and how to do it. Women need men to relinquish their stronghold over society and admit that women are as equal and capable as anyone. Feminism has evolved since the suffrage of our great grandmothers and our :bra burning” (no one ever really burned bras) mothers but masculinity has remained basically the same. Gender is about both men and women and all the in betweens. Unless men join in the discussion of gender with real interest we will continue to fight an exhausting battle for equality.

Diversity Day

I am a student at a small liberal arts school in Florida that claims to foster a civic minded student body that encourages social responsibility. Our school holds an annual event called “Diversity Day.” Diversity Day includes a series of lectures related to race, religion, gender and sexuality. However, when it comes to the application of the equality talked about in these Diversity Day lectures the school falls short.

The school, which is around 60% women, has a four hour period of time just once a month that women can receive their annual exams. The health clinic would have to see around 224 women on the days that it offers gynecological services to meet the needs of all its female students. The school claims that we cannot afford to offer more availability to the women on campus and that the 8 days a year that women can receive care specific to their bodies are more than adequate. The school also doesn’t seem to care about issues of interpersonal violence or homophobia.

The NOW chapter on campus organized a lecture by Men Stopping Violence and asked that the school make it a fraternity standard—an event with mandatory attendance by fraternities. The head of Greek Life refused to make the event a standard without clear reasoning, even though a recently initiated member of a campus fraternity physically assaulted his girlfriend within the last year. Our administration seems to believe that a lecture regarding men’s responsibility to stop violence is unnecessary.

Other failures with administration regarding Greek Life include recent discrimination from one fraternity towards another fraternity with openly gay members. Pictures were taken of members from the fraternity and defaced with homophobic remarks and juvenile drawings of penises on the member’s faces. These photos were then sent out to all new members of another fraternity. The members of the attacked fraternity were obviously offended and felt discriminated against. They brought the pictures to the attention of the Greek Life staff. The gentlemen were pressured into doing “mediation” with the brothers that sent out the images instead of punishing the chapter responsible for the images. Here is the best part—the brothers who complained about the discrimination were required to host the “mediation” event, help pay for food and drinks, and were subject to fines if they refused to participate. Apparently victim blaming is the administration’s idea of reconciliation. Despite the absurdity of punishing the members that endured the homophobic remarks our “diversity embracing” school went ahead and did just that.

The students advocating for equality and a true appreciation of diversity continue to have their voices ignored or make slow progress towards change. All the while we hypocritically hold events that purport to hold those very qualities in the highest esteem. I want to know what these diversity initiatives are worth if our schools are too scared of bad publicity to address actual instances of discrimination? How do you fight for equality in a place that refuses to acknowledge that is doesn’t have it?

BB

Are We Obsessed with the Right Things?

http://www.antilogic.co.za/advertising/breast-cancer-foundation-singapore-advertising/

The above link was sent to me by a friend. The blog, Antilogic, posted pictures from the new campaign for the Breast Cancer Foundation in Singapore. This month is breast cancer awareness month and yet the most advertisement I’ve seen was the “I like it on the floor next to my bed” posts on facebook (useless). I have to say, I’m usually opposed to gratuitous nudity and women’s bodies being used for commercial purposes but I’m super into this. I’m still weary that we are looking at fragments of women’s bodies but in this situation it serves the purpose well. We are literally looking right at a woman’s breasts but we are seeing other—less important—problems. We’re focused on how our hair looks, that giant pimple on my face, or worrying about weight, while overlooking our own health.

I’m pleased to see a campaign for breast cancer that is creative, amusing and shows breasts without sexualizing or trivializing the matter. Even the “facebook activism” for breast cancer is oddly tinged with sexual innuendo (what color bra are you wearing/I like it on the ____). What about posting on your facebook links to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, statistics or facts about breast cancer, or remind your friends to do a self-exam? Unlike slogans like “Save the Tatas” or  Keep a Breast’s “I Heart Boobies” the Breast Cancer Foundation ad draws attention to the right problem. We are obsessing over the wrong things. Shouldn’t we love and want to save the women attached to the breasts—not the breasts themselves? Let’s take the sex out of cancer and focus on the real issue. 

Here are some links about breast cancer:

http://www.nbcam.org/

http://ww5.komen.org/understandingbreastcancerguide.html

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

Mammograms save lives:

http://www.webstercitynews.com/page/content.detail/id/513028/Mammograms-save-lives.html?nav=5002

Fundraising isn’t everything:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/10/26/prwebprweb4704894.DTL

NYT and breast cancer conspiracy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/health/26zuger.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Don’t forget about breast cancer as soon as October is over! Just because we have a month for a certain cause doesn’t mean the problem disappears the other 11 months out of the year.

BB

One example of a MAN who understands how media plays a role in the way women see themselves.  A great rap artist who actually doesn’t degrade women in his rhymes… check him out.