Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Where is Charity?

Bear with me. Indulge a short reading from the Torah (Old Testament).

In the book of Genesis, the story is told of Isaac's two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob, second born son, at the prompting of his mother, exploits his father's failing eyesight to trick his father into giving him the blessing of the first born. Isaac does so richly, even so far as asking God to bestow upon Jacob rule over his siblings, "Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you." (Genesis 27:29)

Esau, discovering his brother's deceit, in despair goes to his father, and asks, "Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, my father!" And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. (Genesis 27:38)

In Slate, Christopher Hitchens writes piercingly of a challenge he poses to those opposed to the war in Iraq:
How can so many people watch this as if they were spectators, handicapping and rating the successes and failures from some imagined position of neutrality? Do they suppose that a defeat in Iraq would be a defeat only for the Bush administration? The United States is awash in human rights groups, feminist organizations, ecological foundations, and committees for the rights of minorities. How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of "missing" Iraqis, to support Iraqi women's battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East? Is Abu Ghraib really the only subject that interests our humanitarians?
These questions damn those who can criticize and complain only, and secretly (and not so secretly) hope deeply for catastrophe if only to feel some smug self-satisfaction that after all their political defeats, "they were right all along."

That cynical view of the world is callous beyond description. It ignores the complexity of history. It is the preference of the ostrich to keep its head in the sand as the only defense it has the heart to offer.

If Hitchens is wrong, if I am wrong, where is the compassion and humanity to help a people with some of the most bona fide credentials in all victim-hood?

Why is the left incapable of saying, "how we got here is wrong, we disagree with the policies that led us here, but there is grave human need, and we will respond?"

For they do this everywhere else in the world. They surely disagree with the brutality of African States that result in widespread famine; they are strenuously opposed to ethnic cleansing in Europe, Asia and Africa that causes millions of displaced persons and genocide. There is not a place in the world today where human rights, other non-profit and aid groups are working today, that do not share the exact same causations and state-decision-making so appalling to those on the left.

So where are they for the oppressed people of Iraq? Where are they in trying to build democratic institutions? Where is there outreach to support and sustain native peoples trying to build a renewed civilization from decades of destruction and ruin (caused first by Saddam, and then by their lights, our Coalition)?

Hitchens conclusion:
Isn't there a single drop of solidarity and compassion left over for the people of Iraq, after three decades of tyranny, war, and sanctions and now an assault from the vilest movement on the face of the planet? Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable "communities" have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable. And so we watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim. For shame.
"Have you only one blessing, my father?"

As I have not received a reply from my erstwhile debating partner, I offer an invitation to any of his companions or blogging sympaticos to offer a guest response.

19 Comments:

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

What I don't get is, what makes you think there isn't ANY charity given to Iraq? What about the Red Cross? What about the Hassan Family Relief Fund and others like them? What about this woman who lost her life trying to do her part to help others in Iraq??

http://www.civicworldwide.org/

Just cause there's not ONE GIGANTIC NEON SIGN that says "CHARITY FOR IRAQ HERE" doesn't mean that there isn't charity going on. Just cause you don't SEE it, doesn't mean it isn't there! Do some research.

Here are my charities (on a budget of about $1600 a year - which is all I can afford.)

Children's Christian Fund (1 in Sri Lanka, 1 in India), St Jude's Research Hospital, Red Cross, Hassan Family Relief Fund http://www.hassanfamilyfund.org/index.html and various other charities as I come accross-feel compelled-and can afford to donate to.

I have no time to volunteer on the other side of the world, I have a daughter to raise all by myself and a job to work to do that (as it is with MANY Americans) and I imagine that many others lives are the same. I do what I can when I can. I cannot do it all and to expect me or a group of people to do so is unrealistic. To believe that NO ONE is doing anything is ignorant.

What happens to those who spread their charity too thin? I could give $1 to 1600 charities, but what difference would it make? Heck $10 to 160 charities wouldn't make much differnce either would it?

You expect too much sir.

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Rhiannon,

You mistake my meaning certainly, and perhaps Hitchens' intent as well. He is describing the formal, official responses of hogh profile aid and other non-profit organizations, not individuals.

I have no doubt whatever that most individuals, who care enough to even have an opinion one way or the other, do indeed give, and often sacrificially.

I can vouch for the efforts of the Red Cross here on base, their Iraqi efforts I can't say. What Hitchens is lamenting, and we here see little evidence of, are these same NGOs that spend considerable resources criticizing the war and every thing done (wrong) by the coalition, yet make no singificant effort to help the fledging Iraqi democracy or its emergent institutions.

He has also been assailed with the rejoinder that the security situation does not permit involvement, and the counterargument is more is doen in even more dangerous locales. I believe Hitchens is right to call out these organizations as harboring a grudge. "We were agin it all along. And now its goin to hell. Like we told you it would"

You have personalized what was meant more as an organizational criticism.

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

I work for a non-profit and I can tell you this. The same is true for my own personal charities as it is for charity orgs. You can give $1 to many programs and not make a difference or you can give a lot to a few and at least SOME difference. These organizations no doubt already have a lot on their plate as it is. *Which Orgs specifically are you inquiring anyways?

That's why there are so many smaller specialized charities that have been started for Iraq because much like the Red Cross (who gives so much to as many as possible) if these orgs spread themselves too thin, they won't have much effect.

Of course don't take my word for it. If you're really talking to specific orgs and not a general populace of anti-war Americans then ask the orgs directly, not the general populace. You might be surprised by how they respond.

As for the lack of publicity, ask the media.

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Here are some sites I googled in my spare time. They are charities for Iraq, (except the last one).

http://www.iraqkids.org/?src=overture

http://www.interaction.org/iraq/index_press.html

http://www.casi.org.uk/info/charities.html

http://www.islamic-charity.com/projects/iraq.htm

http://www.give.org/news/iraqtips.asp (this is a cautionary page describing how to spot fraudulant charities)

 
At 11:14 PM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Rhiannon,

You've commented here often enough for me to know to doubt neither your sincerity, nor your compassion. (And I'm sure that applies to these many fine organizations, thanks fror the links).

To bring it back to Hitchens point, however, was that he was talking about a certain class of activist organizations for which many of the past and present problems in Iraq would seem tailor made for involvement.

Hitchens said:
"The United States is awash in human rights groups, feminist organizations, ecological foundations, and committees for the rights of minorities. How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of "missing" Iraqis, to support Iraqi women's battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East?"

Right off the bat I think of Human Rights Watch, National Organization for Women, Greenpeace, Amnesty International.

Again, this ia about big donor, high profile, big time NGOs who have sat this entire effort out.

No, it shouldn't be only about the "bigs," but they are the organizations that, in Hitchens view, have the greatest resources and would appear to value domestic political issues above their charters.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Like I said, you want an answer, ask these orgs that you have a problem with (Like AI, Greenpeace, etc.) Ask them what they are doing, why there isn't some huge united effort (by them or between all the orgs you have a problem with) for JUST Iraq... ask them why they aren't paying *special attention* to what American pundits say they should pay attention to. Should volunteers in Ethiopia abandon their programs and go straight to Iraq? Because you and Hitchen's say they should? ... There are more problems in this world than Iraq.

But until you ask the Human Rights Watch, you won't really know the answer. So ask them.

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Perhaps this will help.

http://www.amnestyusa.org/

http://www.hrw.org/

NOW doesn't seem to have much on Iraq specifically but here's the link anyways.

http://www.now.org/index.html

After looking at Greenpeace's website I'm not certain what you expect, what looks like an eviromentalist org, to do about Iraq...

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Rhiannon,

You are right that these organizations make their own agendas, of course.

As to Greenpeace or other environmental groups, a problem of huge concern in Iraq has been the almost total destruction of habitat formerly occupied by the Marsh Arabs, who Saddam ethnically cleansed when draining the wetlands.

Again, the point isn't that Iraq should have been or should now be at the top of any of these organization's agendas. But under some kind of consideration? On the list at all of places of concern? Only to the extent that they can criticize US and Coalition forces. Not at all otherwise.

You may know of exceptions. You yourself may be different. But I know, because I can read, that many of those opposed to the War in Iraq will be supremely disappointed if we succeed, and want desperately for us to fail. (And perhaps thus to condemn Iraqis and the rest of the Middle East to perpetual tyranny and violence.)

And that is far more cynical than even the imagined cynicism and callousness of the administration they loath.

Especially to those of us who have a personal interest in our success, or failure.

 
At 5:13 PM, Blogger upyernoz said...

in reading the post and the comments, it seems that what dadmanly is asking is not reasonable.

if i may summarize, dadmanly wants to know why the "human rights community" has not done any charitable work in iraq. then he clarified, that he was not talking about individuals, or charitable organizations per se, but rather wants to know about organizations like "Human Rights Watch, National Organization for Women, Greenpeace, Amnesty International"

here's the thing, none of those organizations are charitable organizations. they never have been. it's just not what they do. HRW and AI are both human rights watch type organizations, their purpose is to document and record human rights violations around the country. at most they engage in letter writing campaigns. to the best of my knowledge, neither has ever run a soup kitchen in iraq or anywhere.

similarly greenpeace and NOW are essentially lobbying organizations. greenpeace does sometimes sponsor environmental projects, but never a wholesale environmental cleanup like the iraqi marshes. that's simply way beyond their capability.

in essence, you are asking why non-charitable organizations are not engaging in charitable work? i think, on it's face, it is a ridiculous question.

so my question to dadmanly is this: why isn't the NRA running soup kitchens in iraq? why isn't the american enterprise institute rebuilding iraqi homes? where is operation rescue when so many iraqis are going hungry?

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger upyernoz said...

i just want to add to my above comment that by "charitable organization" i am not talking about their status with the IRS. rather, i am using the term to refer to an organization that normally solicits charitable donations to help others, or engages in charitable works like rebuilding homes or soup kitchens, etc.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger dadmanly said...

Everybody left following this thread:

In the comments (and in the title to my post), I may have used the term "charity." This may have led us off track from my intent, or from Hitchens important question.

I reiterate:

"How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of "missing" Iraqis, to support Iraqi women's battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East?"

Okay, not "charity" per se, but how about huge volunteer effort, advocacy, publicity, all of the things these organizations COULD do, WITHIN their charters, to help those hapless Iraqis?

((Irony on)) You know who I mean, those same poor, defenseless Iraqis who have to put up with those Imperialist Americans stomping around stealing their oil, who are the REAL victims of Americans forcing democracy on them? ((Irony Off))

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger walterwarner26535744 said...

St0ck For Your Review - FCPG

Current Profile
Faceprint Global Solutions (FCPG)
Current Price $0.15


A U.S. based-company dedicated to the goal of
bringing effective security solutions to the marketplace.

With violent and white-collar terrorism on the rise,
companies are starving for innovative security solutions.

FCPG is set to bring hot new security solutions to
the industry, with currently over 40 governmental and
non-governmental contracts, being negotiated.

Please Review Exactly What this Company Does.

Why consider Faceprint Global Solutions (FCPG)?

Faceprint Global Solutions (FCPG) holds the exclusive
marketing rights from Keyvelop, to sell the world�s
leading encryption technology to be distributed directly
to the Healthcare industry in North America.

Faceprint Global Solutions has completed its biometric
software that recognizes facial features of individuals
entering and leaving through airports, ship yards, banks,
large buildings, etc.

FCPG acquired Montreal-based Apometrix Technologies,
which enhances the companies mission of being a
full-service provider to the multi-application smart
card industry. The North American market appears ready
for significant expansion of price-competitive, proven,
multi-application solutions on smart cards. Apometrix's
forecast of over 300 customers and sales of more than $50
million in North America over the next five years, appears
very realistic, according to company management.

Faceprint Global Solutions is currently in contract negotiations
with over 40 governmental agencies and businesses seeking to use
their encryption, biometric, and smart-card technologies.

Breaking News for Faceprint Global Solutions (FCPG)

Faceprint Global Solutions (FCPG) is pleased to announce that
IBM will now offer the world�s leading encryption software to
its major Healthcare clients in North America.

With FCPG owning the exclusive North American rights to distribute
the worlds leading encryption and transmission software developed by
Keyvelop, FCPG is poised to capture large volumes of sales generated
by customers currently using IBM�s software in the healthcare and other industries.
�This is a very positive move for FCPG and for Keyvelop,� said FCPG
CEO Pierre Cote. �We are very happy about the decision to go with IBM.
This is a continuation of the progress made by everyone associated
with FCPG and its partners.�

Buell Duncan, IBM's general manager of ISV & Developer Relations commented,
�Collaborating with Keyvelop will ensure that we develop open solutions
that are easy to maintain and cost effective for our customers in the
healthcare and life sciences industry.�

Among other things, this new software technology which is currently
being used by a number of European healthcare companies, is used to
send any file, regardless of format or size. Encryption keys, evidence
of transmission integrity with fingerprint calculation, time-stamping
of all actions and status record updating, pre-checking sender and
receiver identities, validating file opening dates are part of Keyvelop features.
About FacePrint Global Solutions, Inc.

FCPG operates a business, which develops and delivers a variety of
technology solutions, including biometric software applications on
smart cards and other support mediums (apometric solutions). FCPG�s
products provide biometric solutions for identity authentication and a
host of smart card- and biometrics-related hardware peripherals and
software applications. Apometrix, FCPG�s wholly-owned subsidiary, combines
on-card or in-chip multi-application management solutions with best-of-breed
�in-card matching� biometrics. Keyvelop�s secure digital envelope solution
and Apometrix�s on-card biometrics work together to produce the winning
combination in the fields of security, traceability and identity management.
Conclusion:

The examples above show the Awesome, Earning Potential of little known
Companies That Explode onto Investor�s Radar Screens. This sto,ck will
not be a Secret for long. Then You May Feel the Desire to Act Right Now!
And Please Watch This One Trade!

GO FCPG!

Disclaimer:
Information within this email contains "forwardlooking statements" within
the meaning of Section 27Aof the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21B of
the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Any statements that express or involve
discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs,
plans, projections, objectives, goals, assumptions or future events or
performance are not statements of historical fact and may be "forward
looking statements". "Forward |ooking statements" are based on
expectations, estimates and projections at the time the statements are made
that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual
results or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated.
We were paid a sum of three thousand USD to disseminate this information from
ir marketing. Forward loking statements in this action may be identified through
the use of words such as "projects", "foresee", "expects", "will", "anticipates",
"estimates", "believes", "understands" or that by statements indicating
certain actions "may", "could", or "might" occur. Risk factors include
general economic and business conditions, the ability to acquire and develop
specific projects, the ability to fund operations and changes in consumer
and business consumption habits and other factors overwhich the company has
little or no control. The publisher of this newsletter does not represent
that the information contained herein are true and correct.

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger David said...

So are you saying that 'those on the right' who support the war in Iraq (for what ever reason) are forgiven their lack of charity for the oppressed peoples of the world?

'Cause it's the right wing of this American society that has historically had it's head in the sand regarding the fate of other peoples. Bush himself said America shouldn't be in the business of regime change - WTF? And who criticized Clinton for involving America in Bosnia because there were no American Interests to be served? Tom Delay? Newt Gingrich?

But 'the left' or the 'anti-Iraq-War Set' is full s@$t because we aren't fighting to protect the WETLANDS of Iraq? Give me a big fat break.

Is this war worth your life?

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger dadmanly said...

As a matter of basic fact, yes, or I and 130,000 of my fellow soldiers wouldn't be here.

(Ahem.)

We volunteered.

 
At 3:19 AM, Blogger Sirkowski said...

Read Sun Tzu instead of the Bible.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Wayde said...

Seems like you're all talking around the subject. The point isn't about NGOs (non-governmental organizations) doing things in Iraq, it's about what they're saying publicly (or not saying).

I think the point is, why do "liberal/left" NGOs criticize the US so harshly and then remain silent when US adversaries do the same thing. Or in the case of Iraq, who do they not sing the praises of the US government when it does things that the organization approves of.

Why doesn't Greenpeace talk about how great the U.S. is for helping to restore the southern marshlands in Iraq? Why doesn't NOW talk about how great the Bush administration is for improving women's lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why doesn't AI or Human Rights Watch talk about the suffering and oppression that's been relieved because of U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan?

There are a couple of reasons:

1. In the U.S., I suspect as a generalization that the vast majority of members of these groups tend to the political left. If they suddenly start PRAISING Bush or the U.S. military, they can expect to see a corresponding decline in fund raising and membership as their members get turned off. It would be like the NRA praising a gun control measure that was working.

2. These are lobbying groups and they're fully aware that while the U.S. may respond to the pressure of public opinion, Al Qaeda will most likely not. Espeically when it comes to women's rights, the environment, or human rights. So they don't waste their time.

3. These groups are about trying to bring about change. So it serves them no purpose to expend resources praising our efforts when they could be criticizing areas they're not happy with. Yes, praising the government when it does what they want would help encourage the government to do what they want, but see #1 above.

So don't expect to see anything change...

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger Wayde said...

Seems like you're all talking around the subject. The point isn't about NGOs (non-governmental organizations) doing things in Iraq, it's about what they're saying publicly (or not saying).

I think the point is, why do "liberal/left" NGOs criticize the US so harshly and then remain silent when US adversaries do the same thing. Or in the case of Iraq, who do they not sing the praises of the US government when it does things that the organization approves of.

Why doesn't Greenpeace talk about how great the U.S. is for helping to restore the southern marshlands in Iraq? Why doesn't NOW talk about how great the Bush administration is for improving women's lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why doesn't AI or Human Rights Watch talk about the suffering and oppression that's been relieved because of U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan?

There are a couple of reasons:

1. In the U.S., I suspect as a generalization that the vast majority of members of these groups tend to the political left. If they suddenly start PRAISING Bush or the U.S. military, they can expect to see a corresponding decline in fund raising and membership as their members get turned off. It would be like the NRA praising a gun control measure that was working.

2. These are lobbying groups and they're fully aware that while the U.S. may respond to the pressure of public opinion, Al Qaeda will most likely not. Espeically when it comes to women's rights, the environment, or human rights. So they don't waste their time.

3. These groups are about trying to bring about change. So it serves them no purpose to expend resources praising our efforts when they could be criticizing areas they're not happy with. Yes, praising the government when it does what they want would help encourage the government to do what they want, but see #1 above.

So don't expect to see anything change...

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger tatyana58ashely said...

Just passing by your blog and though you'd like this website.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger BW said...

"Why doesn't Greenpeace talk about how great the U.S. is for helping to restore the southern marshlands in Iraq?"

Because wars cause a hell of a lot more environmental devastation than this one has helped. That's a fact.

"Why doesn't NOW talk about how great the Bush administration is for improving women's lives in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

Many women's groups did give some credit for the progress *in Kabul*, but also criticize the Afghan government for not effectively improving women's conditions in the vast provincial areas of Afganistan where the government has little sway . As for Iraq, there is grave concern that the situation for women's rights will be *worse* in Iraq, depending on the make-up of future governments. Iraq had a lot of human rights problems under Saddam, but women had more rights there than in many Arab countries who are "our partners in peace". Look at "honour killing" stats for example. Jordan and Saudi Arabia had a much greater problem in this area.

"Why doesn't AI or Human Rights Watch talk about the suffering and oppression that's been relieved because of U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

This is perhaps a better question than the first two, but still missing the point. Look at the main pages for both organizations, or in fact their detailed reports. Do you see them talking ANYWHERE about good news? They don't. Period. I compared the Iraq 2005 AI report with the Canada 2005 report. Canada has a better human rights record than Iraq right? Well, there was no good news in Canada's report either. They don't report good news, who knows why but they don't.

So, since we cannot reasonably expect AI and HRW to single out Iraq for good news when they don't give it out to anyone and focus only on bad news, to see fairness we can only ask "do they put out bad news about the bad guys?" Cuz if they did, then it would seem they're being fair, yeah?

And in this case, the answer is yes, they do put out news about the bad guys. HRW did this relatively recently, but in a highly publicized manner, criticizing AIF/insurgents/terrorists/freedomfighters/whatever as the thugs they are. A *140 page report* focused solely on what is bad from a human rights perspective about the "insurgent groups". You could say it was a token effort at fairness if it was just a press release, but a *140-page report* smacks to me of taking the offenses of "the other side" very seriously indeed.

Amnesty had already done so earlier this year, in their 2005 annual report (summarizing 2004). They said as a pre-amble to that section "Armed groups opposed to the presence of US-led forces in Iraq were responsible for gross human rights abuses which caused thousands of civilian casualties." They then follow up with the more gross examples of murder, civilian deaths from bombings, kidnappings and attacks on women and feminist organizations.

Hitchen's article was intellectually dishonest muckraking. His job at Slate is to stir the pot from all I can tell, perhaps be "the guy the liberals love to hate", perhaps a good idea at an establishment like Slate that seems a comfortable place for lefties to read. He did his job in this case, but he did a "Michael Moore" in this case, mixing facts, opinions, and outright fabrications together in a way you will like if you agree with him, and go insane with anger if you don't.

The attacks on NGOs and charities were baseless and stupid. To me the only point behind it was to try to paint them as partisan entities and deflect their *quite legitimate* criticisms of Bush Administration policy in Iraq, Afganistan and in the war on terror in general.

BW

 

Post a Comment

<< Home