It is hard to explain why victims of slavery and slaughter are virtually ignored by American progressives. How can it be that there is no storm of indignation at Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, which, though they rushed to Jenin to investigate false reports of Jews massacring Arabs, care so much less about Arab-occupied Juba, South Sudan's black capital? How can it be that they have not raised the roof about Khartoum's black slaves? Neither has there been a concerted effort by the press to pressure American administrations to intervene. Nor has the socialist left spoken of liberating the slaves or protecting black villages from pogroms, even though Wall Street helps bankroll Khartoum's oil business, which finances the slaughter.
What is this silence about? Surely it is not because we don't care about blacks. Progressives champion oppressed black peoples daily. My hypothesis is this: to predict what the human rights community (and the media) focus on, look not at the oppressed; look instead at the party seen as the oppressor. Imagine the media coverage and the rights groups' reaction if it were ''whites'' enslaving blacks in Sudan. Having the ''right'' oppressor would change everything.
Alternatively, imagine the ''wrong'' oppressor: Suppose that Arabs, not Jews, shot Palestinians in revolt. In 1970 (''Black September''), Jordan murdered tens of thousands of Palestinians in two days, yet we saw no divestment campaigns, and we wouldn't today. This selectivity (at least in the United States, does not come from the hatred of Jews. It is '' a human rights complex '' - and is not hard to understand. The human rights community, composed mostly of compassionate white people, feels a special duty to protest evil done by those who are like ''us.''
''Not in my name'' is the worthy response of moral people. South African whites could not be allowed to represent ''us.'' But when we see evil done by ''others,'' we tend to shy away. Though we claim to have a single standard for all human conduct, we don't. We fear the charge of hypocrisy: We Westerners after all, had slaves. We napalmed Vietnam. We live on Native American land. Who are we to judge ''others?'' And so we don't stand for all of humanity.
In other words, groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, often headed by primarily white leaders, have an inherent interest in exposing "evil" white men. Since these groups try to portray themselves as morally superior to the governments or people they condemn, they focus on governments such as Israel, which ironically has one of the best records in maintaining human rights. Despite the real atrocities being committed in countries such as Sudan or North Korea, there is no interest in those countries because they is no self interest in establishing a morally superior position to those governments. Why? Because they're not white.
And that's sad.