Jun 22, 2005

Mau-Mauing Leads to Flak-Catching [LINK]

From a letter to the Boston Globe by Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International:

I am disapponted that The Boston Globe has joined those who have chosen to misread my reference to Guantanamo as the ''gulag of our times" (''Gulag or not," editorial, June 7). I have never suggested that the two are mirror equivalents. My point is that they are both symbols of human rights abuse in their respective eras. For the Bush administration to claim anything more than that is simply to divert attention from the real issues of abuse and ill-treatment of prisoners in US custody.
Even if we are to take her claims of "misreading" at face value, the problem is that there is, unfortunately, still no shortage of actual gulags across the world to serve as the "gulag of our times." These are places where people are incarcerated for their political or religious beliefs, and where slave labor conditions still result in many deaths by starvation and exhaustion. The symbol that's being employed thus does not apply to our era, but also to our location, our happy circumstance, and our manifest ignorance.

An earlier letter by a man named Zeke Phillips actually defends the use of false analogy in one paragraph, then disputes the analogy is even false — never a good way to win a debate. Zeke then says we should "put aside this debate about semantics," a silly "debate" he himself puts forth. The whole point of the provocative "gulag" statement was to get publicity. Job well done!

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