POWER, SELF INTEREST, SEXISM & HYPOCRISY
In an essay in my blog on December 9 2008, an article entitled “No Borders Exist for Racism, Sexism and Religious Intolerance” I stated that the presence of power, self-interest and hypocrisy are present in all human affairs and know no country borders.
Power is not easy to acquire and jealously held. In Kandahar, Afghanistan swarms of angry men, shouting epithets and hurling stones, confronted hundreds of Afghan women, who were staging a rare protest against a law that allows husbands to demand sex from their wives. This protest took an incredible amount of courage. What a disgusting but pitiful picture of these men fighting desperately to keep what power they had, in a society so bereft of any but male power. The law if ultimately passed would have applied to the Shia community which represents 10-20 % of the Afghan population. The only country in the world according fewer rights to women is the Sudan. In essence these acts have very little to do with Islam but everything to do with the absolute necessity of keeping control.
The hypocrisy that existed in the American and British armies before and during the Second World War is difficult to accept. Here are two democratic countries waged in an epic struggle against the fascist regime of Nazi Germany, where all human rights were non-existent, yet both countries were able to demand that the second division of the free French army led by General Philippe Leclerc would be made up entirely of white soldiers when the division entered Paris. In fact nearly the entire French army was made up mostly of people of colour from the French African colonies. To be fair, because the entry to Paris would attract international publicity, it may have been a political decision by the British because the white troops would appeal to the whites of France. Not so by the Americans! The U.S. army refused to let black conscripts into combat units. The blacks were left to do the menial tasks behind the lines. It was President Truman who eventually desegregated the army.
Louis Guilloux, a French writer, found himself working as an official interpreter for the American army. He looked on the American nation as the greatest democracy in the world and was horrified by the fact that there was segregation in the army. In two court-martials in which he played a role, an African American and a white American officer were charged with murder. Both soldiers were drunk but the white American had been a hero. The African-American was found guilty and hanged and the white officer was freed. On investigation he found in the years 1943-1946 the American military executed 70% of its own soldiers for crimes committed in Europe. 55% of those executed were African Americans who constitute 8.5% of the American army. There seemed to be a different standard of justice for black and white soldiers in the American forces.