The difference between opposing a cause and opposing a method
– If you came to me today and said, would you return Saddam Hussein to power, would I say Yes?
No, I wouldn’t.
Does this mean that I agreed with how he was removed from power?
No, it doesn’t, and if I could go back in time I would change that. But if I could go back in time I would also change him.
For so many people there is a dangerous conflation of anti-foreigner politics and those people being “good” rulers.
To the observer from within:
Do not snort when I talk about “freedom” or “dignity” – these things are not the preserve and privilige of the West and its citizens. These are our values as well. Do not think that us advocating for them means we advocate for the political systems that have appropriated them. Neither should you think that you saying “we can’t do those things” makes you “anti-Western”, you are simply keeping the privilige with them.
A good ruler is one that does not oppress those under his custodianship. He is one that does not order the deaths of even a single innocent that opposes him. Is one that does not believe in the theory of “you can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs”. A good ruler loses his legitimacy the moment he chooses to spill the blood of innocents. Even if it is a few – after all, as we see, when the mind is set it matters not even if he kills thousands.
Do not opportunistically talk about freedom and democracy when the West is actively oppressing it, but refuse to mention it when someone else takes the lead. Do not use freedom and dignity as a political tool if you do not believe in it, always, regardless of who’s the depriver on the other side. Do not use the sanctity of blood as a political tool, if you cannot condemn its wanton violation, always. Do not praise a ruler, if you cannot deny to yourself that he is likely to have used violence to spill innocent blood. Do not act as an apologist and say that the shedding of protesters’ blood was necessary “self-defence” against a foreign plot.
If your ultimate aim is to show yourself to be “an opponent of the West”, without understanding the reasons you are “an opponent of the West”, then pick up a Kalashnikov and join ISIS, Boko Haram or Al-Qaeda. You may not be as extreme in the physical depravity you are willing to inflict, but you are just as mindless as them.
Westernisation is about how your mind has been colonised, even if its orientation is to be anti-West. It is about believing that we need a “strong ruler” to keep stability. It is about ignoring the deaths of even single-digit number of protesters because of a government or leader’s authoritarianism/egomania. Do not ever expect you will reach the dignity that we aspire to have one day, equal to and beyond that of Western citizens, if you think like that.
To the observer from without:
To many people, thus, the actual cause mentioned in the title is not their primary concern if it is not about Western intervention (in this case, the Middle East is always a hot topic because of destrucive Western policy there). Thus, if that aspect is taken out solidarity and/or interest ceases to be forthcoming, at best, and at worst the story is skewed in order to remain relevant (deemphasising local agency in favour of Western one). They may legitimately ask, if we are to ignore the West’s role, why should we be focussing on this particular bad dictator here rather than anywhere else in the world? Our focus here is because of the West’s involvement. That’s fine, but once you enter that paradigm then you cannot pick and choose what constitutes its dynamics. When you enter, you must engage fully with all of them. If you enter a paradigm which involve authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, you must engage with that independently (as well as interdependently) of the role of the West. Do not condemn a regime once it enjoys Western support, if you are to apologise for it once its Western benefactor becomes embarassed and is in-turn replaced. If you enter a paradigm which involves geopolitical imperialist competition in the Middle East, you must engage with that as well, regardless of the role of the West in (for example) Russia’s actions.
If you enter that paradigm, and your observations on the situation do not cease, then you say “down with Saddam” if the people are saying that, even if the US is criticising him. If you enter that paradigm, then you say “down with Russia’s invasion”, even if the US is criticising it, if that is also what the people say. Western imperialism is about oppressing people, do not become the oppressor when the West changes its role. Most of all, do not pervert the reality to suit your own interests, of remaining relevant to anti-establishmentism. That would be the biggest disservice of all.
[This was pasted from a personal Facebook post]