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Europe's Moral Outrage

(UDPATE 12/06/2005 at the end)

The Wall Street Journal argues today that Europe cares about human rights only when it can criticize the United States. The Review & Outlook piece describes Europe's "moral outrage" over alleged CIA prisons and secret flights of terror suspects as "deafening," and opines:

If Europe were seriously concerned about morality. Europe would no longer be Iran's No. 1 trading partner, and its companies wouldn't be able to attend trade fairs in Sudan anymore. Unlike American companies--recently defamed in Germany as "(blood) suckers" and "locusts" by the former government--European firms are quite busy in Sudan. The chamber of commerce and industry in Stuttgart has enthused over what great opportunities Sudan's oil resources offer to German companies. Lest people think they are doing something morally reprehensible, the salesmen from Stuttgart prefer to describe the massacres of black Africans in Darfur as "political disturbances." The German economics ministry, which sponsored the German pavilion at last February's trade fair in Sudan, will also support next February's event, the chamber of commerce assures its members.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) asks "Where is the outrage?" and indeed, so far Google News Deutschland does not have a single article at for the keywords "Sudan" and "Messe" (German for "trade fair").

How did the WSJ then learn about the trade fair? Probably by reading the very popular blog Davids Medienkritik, which featured the Atlantic Review's Genocide: U.S. calls for more sanctions against Sudan, but Germany sees business opportunities on November 26, 2005.
The Atlantic Review learned about the Stuttgart chamber of commerce's praise for the fair via Neokomplott
and then googled extensively for the participating companies and the German Pavilion website. And Neokomplott learned about it through Extrablog. Isaac Newton's "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of giants" applies here as well. Let's see how long it will take until a German paper finally picks up the story from the WSJ (or from one of the blogs).


The WSJ continues:

Or who in Europe has heard of Soghra, an Iranian woman sentenced in October to death by stoning for adultery? Or Mokhtar N. and Ali A., hanged last month in a public square in Iran for homosexuality?

In much of Europe's public debate, the true meaning of human rights has degenerated into a tool that gives anti-Americanism an aura of legitimacy. The real, horrendous human-rights violations in the Middle East, North Korea, China, Cuba, etc., are largely ignored or relegated to news blurs on the back pages. For front-page coverage, you need an American angle.
It is often said that this has nothing to do with anti-Americanism but with the fact that democracies, such as the U.S., must be held to higher standards. Really? Let's look at some recent European violations of human rights.

In October, the European Council's Commissioner for Human Rights inspected what the French call a detention center for foreigners. Alvaro Gil-Robles believes it is more properly called a dungeon.

The WSJ criticizes the lack of media coverage of these allegations and asks its readers to imagine the moral outcries if the US had been involved and provides more examples of double standards. You can read the entire WSJ article Europe's 'Moral Outrage' for free. You don't have to be a subscriber, but you need to register for free. (Hat tip Davids Medienkritik)


UPDATE 12/06/2005:
Transatlanticist and Feldnotizen have picked up this story and comment in English. DIE ZEIT's Kosmoblog ways in in German. Thank you!


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Ralf Goergens on :

I deplore the German economic activities in Sudan and will write some emails in protest myself. Even so I wonder why you are singling out Germany for criticism? Germany accounts for about 5 % of all imports to Sudan: Bei den Importen dominierten im ersten Hj. 2004 Asien (27%), Westeuropa (24%) und die Arabische Welt (21,5%). Wichtigste Importländer 2003 waren Saudi Arabien (25% aller Importe), gefolgt von China (ca. 8%,) den VAE (6,2%) und COMESA-Staaten (6,4%). Deutschland rangierte auf Platz 5 (4,9%). Dieser Trend setzte sich im ersten Halbjahr 2004 mit etwa gleicher Gewichtung fort.

Joerg W on :

"Even so I wonder why you are singling out Germany for criticism?" We are Germans and I believe in the biblical saying: Take the plank out of your own eye. And: 'Sweep before your own door!' And for the German readers: Sich an die eigene Nase fassen.

PierreM on :

Ralf-- I guess not only Germans engage in the tu quoque defense.

Sandra on :

Thanks for the link to the WSJ article and blogging about this. Of course I condemn the fact that Germany is trading with Sudan and completely agree that it is another example of Europe's double standards in moral issues. However, I have some problems with the argumentation in the WSJ article and will be blogging about this later

Rosemary on :

I read this article when it came out, because it had to do with Darfur. I was, and am, outraged. There are stores in America I refuse to shop, because they buy their goods from China. What is so bad about China? Slave labor, forced abortions, Tiananmen Square. Need I say more? German people can have a huge impact on these companies. You have the power in your pocketbooks. They need YOU, not the other way around. Make it known. Great post, Joerg!

Ralf Goergens on :

Joerg, sorry, I hadn't checked the 'About us' section. I didn't know that you are *all* Germans.

Ralf Goergens on :

"Ralf-- I guess not only Germans engage in the tu quoque defense." Pierre, when I wrote the first comment, I wasn't aware that all of the people writing for this blog are Germans. Therefore I found it inappropriate to single out Germany.

Ralf Goergens on :

But of course, the article in the WSJ is a tu quoque defense in itself

FrauBudgie on :

It would help in credibility if someone could actually locate the prisons, but I guess we'll just have to take the Pulitzer Prize winning Dana Priest's word for it, huh.

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