This is an optimistic blog, but even optimists must recognize problems in the world. The pessimist will just accept them. Only by crying “Shame!” can we hope to make the world better. Here are a few (among many) recent ones:
• During Russia’s Chechnya War (one long atrocity), Col. Yuri Budanov saw a teenaged Chechen girl he fancied and had her brought to him. Next day her raped body was found. Remarkably, this was one crime too far, and Budanov was actually prosecuted and imprisoned. But then he was let out early, in January. Stanislav Markelov, 34, a Russian civil rights lawyer, held a press conference to protest. Exiting, Markelov was gunned down in the street. Anastasia Baburova, a human rights activist accompanying Markelov, ran after the killer. She too was shot dead.
This is not an isolated incident in Putinist Russia.
• Rohingya tribespeople in Myanmar, brutalized by that vile regime, have been escaping to Thailand. Thailand doesn’t welcome them. Recently, Thai troops put one large group of them out to sea in a boat with no engine.
• Thailand’s supposedly beloved King Bhumibol supposedly protects democracy. In fact he connives behind the scenes with coupsters and other anti-democratic forces. One calls itself the “People’s Alliance for Democracy,” which shut down the airport last fall. Two elected governments have been brought down lately by these elements. Those governments were backed by Thaksin Shinawatra, whose own government was similarly ousted in a 2006 coup. Thaksin is no angel, but, unusually, he made promises to Thailand’s poorer people which he actually kept, which is why his lot have widespread popular support and win elections. The PAD can’t accept that; it should be called the “People’s Alliance Against Democracy.” Its bloody-minded anti-democratic tactics, suborned by the King, are making Thailand ungovernable. Meantime, Thailand rigorously enforces laws banning any insult to the King, using them as a pretext for locking up scads of people.
Optimist’s note: the King is 82. And nobody even pretends the heir-apparent is loved.
• A national Martin Luther King memorial is being built on Washington’s Mall. Jonathan Turley in the LA Times (here’s a LINK) writes that the King family has extracted an $800,000 payment from the Memorial Foundation for the use of King’s image. The family also demands payments for any re-broadcast of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Turley writes, “King gave that speech to a nation.” And that when King himself received the Nobel Peace Prize, he gave the money to charity, because he was adamantly opposed to any appearance of profiting from his work.