Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hopeful instincts - Ignatieff on Iran

From almost four years ago, around the time of the previous Presidential election. h/t Andrew Potter, whose "Well, not quite" seems to me to nicely summarize the superficiality of Ignatieff's argument for the universality of what we Westerners used to think of as human rights. A short discussion with a philosopher (it would have been mercifully short) might have been a good idea before making this idea the hallmark of your classroom work.
On the other hand, the article IS interesting, and revealing of much of the ferment even back then, which we see now played out in the streets of Iran.
As far as he was concerned, beneath his belief in human rights lies the bedrock of the Koran, while beneath mine lies nothing but hopeful instincts.

Ignatieff seems embarrassed, but it seems to me that his hopeful instincts are a far better base for a civil society than the "bedrock of the Koran".
When I said this to another young Iranian woman and told her that when Ahmadinejad fails the poor, the only recourse left will be further repression, she said, determinedly: ''No, he cannot turn back the clock. He cannot send us backward.'' I hoped she was right, but I noticed that she made a small involuntary gesture. She pulled her hijab down and covered her hair entirely. For the first time, she looked uncertain and concerned.

And maybe defiant today. Good luck to her.


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