Globalizing Social, Religious, and Human Rights Issues – Hypocrisy and Danger |

There are numerous great Organizations in the world whose devotion and hard work is constant reminder of the global need for cooperation, support and unity. Historical tragedies such as slavery, colonization, world wars and genocides have revealed to the present world that there are such evil that transcends barriers and affects the core of our common humanity.In the same breath, the global responses to natural disasters like the 2004 Tsunami, the 2005 hurricane in New Orleans, and the outpouring support for the victims of January 12, 2010 Earthquake that shook the island of Haiti is furthermore an example of the care and solidarity that can and should exist in our world.If we add the voices of support that were heard all across the globe in compassion for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attack in New York, and those of the November 2006 Bombings in India, we clearly see the purpose for a global coordinated effort to protect and defend oppressed people across the world.On the other hand, a closer look at the intelligence failure and political motivations that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the surprising discrepancies in the diplomatic priorities of the U.N, The persistence of democratization in oil-rich countries and the overzealous nature of Religious missionaries in developing countries; we definitely realize that for all the good International organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, can provide, there is also a large room for overbearing and intrusive behaviors.Two cases that exemplify the potential pitfall of original goodwill intentions are the global response to the government of Uganda decision to propose an Anti-Homosexuality Bill on 13 October 2009, and the ignominious comments by American televangelist Pat Robertson who attributed Haiti Earthquake tragedy as the result of a pact with the Devil by the people of Haiti.While it is much easier to criticize Pat Robertson, it seems much strange to see fault in the effort International, Religious and human right Organizations have led in condemning the Ugandan Bill; however, both are a stringent reminder of the imposition of foreign values and perception on a group of people. Pat Robertson’s comments are colonialist at best, while the condemnations of the Ugandan law are marred with offspring of an expansionist worldview.To better understand the source of those accusations, we must take consideration for the themes in which they evolve, and the similarities with issues to which they resemble that have proved to be damaging: Democracy and Christianity.South African Bishop Desmond Tutu once said: “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”Christianity and Slavery are unfortunately linked for the wrong reason, while missionary work and colonization are forever connected to one another. Although 40% of the African population is Christian, many still practice it as a remnant of the colonial era, and easily incorporate it alongside indigenous belief systems. It is not uncommon to see an African going to church on Sunday, yet placing his or her trust in traditional spiritual leaders for important matters. While there are many committed Christians in Africa, with each generation that passes, Christianity becomes a cultural element imported from a foreign culture just like the Opera, and not necessarily in tune with the social realities.The more Africans understand about the way Christianity made its way in Africa, the more they’ll seek its authenticity to either embrace it for what it truly is, or will reject it as a tool used from colonial invaders to subdue the continent. From Christianity to political and economic policies, today’s Africa has learned to view Western models and suggestions with considerable suspicions, to a point where even humanitarian aid is perceived as a covert exploitative endeavor.When one considers the resume that Christianity has had in Africa, and the relation that ensued with those who professed it, the growing dissatisfaction with Western based democratic principles is understandable. After nearly 50 years of following the West prescribed pills to solve its problems, Africa is finally realizing that Western solution are not one-size fits all models; a trend that has favored the growth of trade with China.21 century Africa is embracing the notion that its success and growth needs to be homegrown, and is becoming increasingly wary of tendencies that reminisces colonial era practices.In terms of Religion, Islam is undoubtedly in the same boat as Christianity when it comes to external originated religions, yet, it is Christianity that is witnessing a wave of variation in cult forms that combines traditional Christian dogma with indigenous African beliefs. Finding its own destiny is probably the African endeavor of the 21 century and Africans aimed to do so their own way. It is not surprising, rather quite revealing that U.S president Barack Obama found useful to mention it during his first visit in Africa, in Accra, Ghana. Obama said “each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions.”Obama also added that “America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation – the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny”.When one is able to observe and comprehend those new trends, it will be easier to see why Pat Robertson’s comments, not content to be completely bare of historical accuracy, are simply insensitive, untimely and loaded with washed up colonial self-inflated righteousness.First of all, to attribute fault to a nation that has just been victim of a major natural disaster pause concern as to Mr. Robertson sanity and touch with reality. Secondly, to simply declare that a whole nation is at the grip of the devil based on this tragedy, is equal to saying that New Orleans was the victim of Hurricane Katrina because the people of that city have committed major evil during Mardi Gras. Thirdly, to assume that after suffering from the atrocity of slavery, the people of Haiti owed their freedom to the Devil is outright insulting not only to the courage and bravery of the Haitians, but also to generations of brave men and women, from all races who have taken a stand against Racism and slavery.The delusion and ignominy of Pat Robertson observations can only find solace in the belief that he said such a thing probably only because the devil himself has reveal it to him. Finally, to have the audacity to wish prayers to the people of Haiti after such a comment is a disgrace to Christians all over the world. Pat Robertson comments were no different that Osama Bin Laden accusation that the U.S is in cohort with the devil. How different are Mr. Robertson conclusions different from Rev. Wright infamous deduction on the origin of the 9/11 attack?The biggest revelation in Pat Robertson comments is the existence of the still present self-anointed opinion that he has the truth and knows the truth; it is no different from colonial missionaries who found in themselves the sacrosanct mission to convert the African natives who “did not know God”. Just like them, Pat Robertson erroneously implies that Colonial France must have been on the side of God, which is why Haiti had to resort to the devil for freedom.This type of hypocritical and nonsense declarations are the ultimate reason why Christianity and democracy have such a bad perception in Africa; automatically, the West religion, Politics, society and culture gets a bad reputation. It is along with those negative views that Homosexuality is seen as the recent “white people” evil that is trying to invade Africa, just like Christianity and Western democracy before it.Sex is really taboo in Africa, and although many things are changing, there are still enormous social and cultural dynamics that reinforces gender roles, values and interactions. The remnant of Christian and Islamic influences, combined with already prevalent patriarchal structures leaves little room to embracing Homosexuality. Following the Ugandan proposed bill, many voices, mainly in the West, have emerged condemning it, doing rallies and manifestation reproving Africa’s homophobic societies.On the other side of the battle, many in Africa view Homosexuality as another cultural import from the West, dubbing it as un-African. The problem is that Homosexuality is not any more un-African, than polygamy is un-American, or murder is typically European. Homosexuality, like Polygamy or murder, is an act, a choice into a certain lifestyle characterized by a particular sexual preference. To attribute it to a certain culture or location is ignoring the impulses that influence human nature. Homosexuality can be found on any country, culture or society, just like heterosexual behaviors.Homosexuality is not like racism either, from the simple fact that what we have come to describe as race cannot be concealed. Unless proven otherwise, a person of African decent cannot walk in a room and pass as one of Asian-decent, while a gay individual must reveal his sexual preference in order to be identified as such.With that said, whether or not it is imported from the West, persecuting a group of people based on their lifestyle is no different than persecuting them for their religious beliefs. It is no different than the inquisition, and plain wrong; additionally, even if Homosexuality is different from racism, Discrimination is the same everywhere. Denying an individual some rights based on a revealed information that differentiate them from the mass or another group is also plain wrong.Violence, witch hunts and discrimination against homosexual is certainly wrong regardless where it happens; however, the enactment of laws that do not favor their lifestyle isn’t. There is a point where the line has to be drawn, and where all groups that are set to defend homosexual rights have to understand their boundaries. Human rights watch, and gay support groups have to understand that just like in politics, where there is a point where one is within its sphere in the diplomatic arena, and another where National Sovereignty is violated. In the case of Homosexuality, that sphere is the social sphere.Homosexuality is a social issue, thus has to be treated as such at the prerogative of the society involved. Jonathan Zimmerman wrote on “… if you’re appalled by the new Ugandan proposal, as I am, don’t blame the West for it. Blame the Ugandans. It’s their country, their society, their law. And their fault.” Some have added in referring to South Africa that it was “way ahead of countries such as nearby Malawi, where a gay couple was thrown in jail for trying to marry.”The only problems with those commentaries are the words “Fault” and “Way ahead.” Again we see the perception that if an African society does not adhere to the Western code of values, it is immediately backward or doing something wrong. Is America at fault for laws that protect animals when so many kids can’t stay off the street? Is America backward for still having states that practice the death penalty?Understanding the boundaries between social issues and human rights is a topic that many westerners fail to comprehend because they are too often blinded by the perception that they have to be the set example for the rest of the world.The reality is that to have a handle on Africa’s reluctance to embrace homosexuality, we have to look at African societies before and after colonization. We have to understand the social values, the morals, and the family structure to grasp its view on community building, gender dynamics and procreative responsibilities.Despite various declarations of a global community, we should not forget that laws are different from countries to countries. Some still uphold the death penalty, while others abhor it. Some are democracies, others are theocracies. Some ban Alcohol, when others thrive on its business; even as many criminalize prostitution, several regulates it.At the end of the day, when it comes to social issues, what is at stakes is how a society views itself, its constituent and its future. Each country on Earth vie for its own survival, and to achieve it, each establishes social norms that will regulate how to live with one another, develop practices that will foster bonds, and behaviors that will ensure its survival through future generations. If at any time, a country views that Homosexuality is a threat to those goals, it has the right and responsibility to enact steps that will discourage or considerably reduce that threat. It is in that line of thoughts that marriage benefits are established, polygamy is tolerated, arranged marriage is instituted and extended versus nucleus family are favored.Democracy is not an exportable commodity, just like cultural values cannot and shouldn’t be imposed. Naturally, as the world grows closer, differences are bound to be observed and accounted for; nevertheless, we must remember that if our human nature compels us to fight injustice and evil wherever it strikes, we must not carry that zeal to a point where we overstep our boundaries.Across Africa governments are bringing forth laws against homosexuality and 38 out of 53 countries have criminalized homosexual intercourse. Human Rights Watch says it is a method of “political manipulation”. That may be truth, but the sadness is that it becomes an effective political tool because once the population feels that its social values are being overrun by a foreign element, they tend to rally behind those who swear to protect those values. The same thing has been seen in the United States since 9/11.All across the globe, along with gays and lesbians support, there are groups who fight against Polygamy or arranged marriage; while some fight an informed fight, too many fight on the simple principles that their values are better, therefore should be exported. U.S Missionaries roam all across the globe, yet a Madrasah in the U.S is viewed with the ultimate suspicion.Over the past two decades, nearly every African nation has banned or heavily restricted homosexual activity. Sex is still a taboo in Africa, Strip clubs are rare, and this is not due to backwardness or imperfection; it is simply due to the nature of the culture, the values and norms of its societies. If things have to change, let it be at a pace acceptable by the society in circumstances it views as positive.Violence and discrimination against homosexuals is wrong, but they also have to recognize the circumstances in which they evolve. Each year, Africa loses brains and talent because their home country does not offer an environment in which they can flourish, nobody seems to complain against it, if anything many profit from it. Likewise, homosexuals in Africa have to understand the social construct of their environment. If gay groups in America are so keen on helping them, the green card option is always available.Obama said in Ghana that Africa’s future was in the hand of Africans; therefore it is up to Africans to decide what type of future they want and in which type of society. Too often Africa has been subject to influences from outside, from Christianity to democracy via the economy. Now with the same beats, Homosexuality is creeping in; once again projecting Africa has an imperfect society living in the past. Socially speaking, Africa is not at fault and is not backward either; it has its own culture, its own values and its own norms. It didn’t seek the help of the devil to fight off colonizers, so it doesn’t need the help of Gay groups to handle its Gay community. While we may not all agree with the methods, we must allow Africa to learn and grow if we wish to see social changes. They have happened in the past, they will happen again.What needs to stop is for self-righteous conservative missionary to view their custom fit Christianity as an appropriated tool to disperse across the world; G8 Politicians need to realize that their democratic model is far from perfect and still growing before they invest themselves in the mission to export it. Finally, Gay support groups and human right watch must learn not to overstep their boundaries, and accept the fact that if their society can absorb homosexuals unions, it doesn’t mean that every nation on Earth must do so.Once those misguided Missionaries, Politicians and so-called human rights groups will reach that conclusion and stop their hypocrisy, then they will be able to let their counterparts who are committed to good works, educate, teach and build at ease in places in need. True diplomats may help and encourage nations to remove corrupt leaders and practices; while focused human rights groups may keep an eye on what is essential, yet still give room for other societies to select their due course with a human right conscience.There are numerous great Organizations in the world whose devotion and hard work is constant reminder of the global need for cooperation, support and unity. It is about time we let them do what they do best.