On apartheid

I am only going to say two things about the recent kerfuffle regarding CUPE, Ignatieff, and Israel Apartheid Week:

1) I don’t think it is ever right to restrict academic freedom. Nor free speech. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often mis-attributed to Voltaire).

2) I’m growing increasingly frustrated by people arguing about what “apartheid” means and whether or not it’s a fair term to use outside of South Africa. It is a word and it has a definition. It seems fairly simple to seek out the definition and end the inanity, but clearly that’s too much to ask. After a fruitless search of the UN web site, I finally sighed and typed “UN definition of apartheid” into Google and found this as the second link: www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/11.htm (see Article II), which states:

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

(a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:

(i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups;

(ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

(b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

(c) Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

d) Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

(e) Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

(f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

Now stop arguing about what the definition of “is” is, especially when you can just look it up.

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