Saturday, June 16, 2012

Waffle of the Day

A signature-line of Richard Nixon was “I want to make one thing perfectly clear,” followed by lies and obfuscation.   Since then, “clear” continues its career as a waffle-word -- an odd vocation, for a vocable so simple.

Today the world is celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech by Burmese activist and media darling Aung San Suu Kyi.   Coincidentally, the NYTimes today published a piece that might surprise you:

Accustomed as we are to treading on eggshells whenever the subject of R*** comes up, we are taken aback at the style of rhetoric that flourishes in that part of the globe:

In 2009, a Burmese diplomat who was then consul general in Hong Kong sent a letter to local newspapers and other diplomatic missions calling the Rohingya “ugly as ogres.” The diplomat, U Ye Myint Aung, compared the “dark brown” complexion of Rohingyas with the “fair and soft” skin of the majority of people in Myanmar.

These luckless fellows are truly unpersons in Burma, not even included on the official list of 130 ethnic minorities in that sorry country.   So they are pretty much harassed and slain with impunity.

So, now let us listen to the Nobel laureate:

The issue of the Rohingya is so delicate that even Myanmar’s leading defender of human rights and democracy, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been oblique and evasive about the situation. Asked at a news conference on Thursday whether the estimated 800,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar should be given citizenship, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was equivocal. “We have to be very clear about what the laws of citizenship are and who are entitled to them,” she said in Geneva, which she was visiting as part of a European tour. “All those who are entitled to citizenship should be treated as full citizens deserving all the rights that must be given to them.”

This righteous-sound, rhetorically-stirring piece of piffle (“all-lll the rights!”) doesn’t rise even to the level of Truthitude, which is at least supposed to contain a fragment or kernel of something like truth, since she really means just the opposite:  We have to be very opaque.

[Update March 2013]

La Birmanie au défi des violences religieuses
Aung San Suu Kyi est critiquée pour son silence après des émeutes antimusulmanes qui ont fait 40 morts.


1 comment:

  1. Whoa. And this from a Nobel Laureate? You'd think that'd be a soft-ball question:

    Should we treat the underprivileged, unwashed, not-so-massive masses like we treat REAL people?
    Well, heavens, yes!

    Maybe I just don't get it.