Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby Zachary » Wed 06 May 2009 8:52 am

Talib wrote:Censorship? Torture? Start a pro-Tibetan blog and I bet you'll see a lot more of that in Beijing than you would in San Francisco.
I never denied any censorship and whatnot in China, heck, I never even denied that my own society is perfect. But you're just reiterating my point, no country is devoid of their own injustices. And if by your standards the United States cannot be compared, then no other country can be compared to any other.

dtp883 wrote:The only places that interest you to travel are Southern Asia, South America, New Zealand, and Polynesia?
Southwest, Southern, Eastern, and Southeastern Asia, all of the Americas (including Greenland despite its political association with Europe), all of Oceania (except Australia), Antarctica, and other smaller remote areas. This is just my preference to where I'd rather travel and stuff, nothing more, nothing less.

Talib wrote:You don't think it'd be interesting to be totally immersed in a different culture? Are you from the same multicultural Canada that I am?
Even though I didn't highlight the world, there's still a huge amount of diversity within the select regions I named. I'm sorry for not wanting much to go to Europe or Africa (I have nothing against them though), but seeing the Inuit in Nunavut, the way of life of Haida Gwaii, talking among the people of Cambodia, learning the culture of brazilian tribes, eating the foods of Japan, roadtripping in Chili, and whatever else; they all have their own uniqueness as well. And I'm happy with that, and how others have their own interests too.

Edit: dtp883 posted before me, but I'll reply tomorrow.
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby Declan » Wed 06 May 2009 12:34 pm

I don't believe that not going to a country because they don't have the political system that you believe in is an admirable moral standing. While some of the money spent there might go to the government, it will definetly go to the people who are oppressed, and the presence of people there will broaden their minds. Simply not going to China doesn't help them at all, it's only a partial boycott. Maybe you do refuse to buy any goods manufactored in China, I don't know, but if you don't, I don't think that not going to China made the slightest difference.
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby SamD » Wed 06 May 2009 4:55 pm

I'd go to China in a heartbeat. That doesn't mean I endorse what their government is up to. I don't agree with everything the US government does either.

My health and my safety are my primary concerns. I have no desire to visit a war zone or a place where visitors aren't safe. To put this in perspective, many people in my city are afraid to visit New York; I've been there several times with no problems. Maybe I'm just a bit of a wimp, but I am a little squeamish about countries where inoculations are required.

Even in my own city, I don't enjoy hot weather. There are some wonderful sightseeing places with hot climates (Israel and Egypt are the first to come to mind), and I think I would try to schedule my visit during a cooler season.

Unless I would be in a position to offer significant help, I'm reluctant to visit some of the poorest countries.
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby linguoboy » Wed 06 May 2009 7:26 pm

Zachary wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Name six.

It depends on how far back you want to go, some countries barely merit being on that list as they're barely a year old. Within the last 9 years, the following countries have either uphelp an overall better record, or have made more progress in improving Human rights, in regards to both internal and external Human Rights violations and based on their involvement with the United Nations: The Kingdom of Cambodia, Republic of Kosovo, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Kingdom of Swaziland, State of Qatar, and the Republic of Tunisia.

The first problem I see is one of shifted goalposts. There's more than one legitimate way to define "has a better record" in this context, but I'm not sure "made more progress" is one of them. If you start from a low enough base, then it's possible to "make more progress" than more advanced countries without ever approaching the level of their protections.

Freedom House has received some criticism for receiving most of its funding from the US government, but I suppose if you'll accept the ratings of an actual governmental organ, then this shouldn't trouble you much. All six of the countries you list above are described as "Not Free" in the most recent (2008) report on their site. (If you wish, you can review past reports going back as far as 2002 from this page, but they don't get any prettier.) All were rated 5 for Civil Liberties. In the category of Political Rights, half (Cambodia, Kosovo, and Qatar) received a 6 with the remainder rated 7--the worst possible score according to Freedom House methodology.

Of course, there's more to human rights than simply civil liberties and political representation, but it's a fair bet that if a country is institutionally unaccountable to its citizens, then it has little or no incentive to respect their basic human rights.
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby Sobekhotep » Wed 06 May 2009 8:30 pm

Zachary wrote:Sorry to say, but your country fails on just as many levels as many of the countries you listed therein.

Are you kidding me? You're trying to compare the United States to the likes of China & Iran! :lol:
Are you a complete idiot, or what?
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby linguoboy » Wed 06 May 2009 11:04 pm

Sobekhotep wrote:
Zachary wrote:Sorry to say, but your country fails on just as many levels as many of the countries you listed therein.

Are you kidding me? You're trying to compare the United States to the likes of China & Iran! :lol:
Are you a complete idiot, or what?

You know, it is possible to disagree with someone on ideological issues without resorting to name-calling. Even if you are American.
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby Talib » Wed 06 May 2009 11:53 pm

Zachary wrote:I never denied any censorship and whatnot in China, heck, I never even denied that my own society is perfect. But you're just reiterating my point, no country is devoid of their own injustices. And if by your standards the United States cannot be compared, then no other country can be compared to any other.
Nobody ever said the United States was above reproach. We just said it's absurd to compare it to countries like China and Iran. The United States is an imperfect democracy; those countries are totalitarian.
Even though I didn't highlight the world, there's still a huge amount of diversity within the select regions I named. I'm sorry for not wanting much to go to Europe or Africa (I have nothing against them though), but seeing the Inuit in Nunavut, the way of life of Haida Gwaii, talking among the people of Cambodia, learning the culture of brazilian tribes, eating the foods of Japan, roadtripping in Chili, and whatever else; they all have their own uniqueness as well. And I'm happy with that, and how others have their own interests too.
All right, your personal tastes are your own. It's just that I think the whole world has lots of interesting people and places and I'd be open to visiting pretty much of all of (well maybe not Antarctica so much).
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby Zachary » Thu 07 May 2009 12:53 am

dtp883 wrote:You can't really call past racisms into this since we are discussing the present or else you'd have to consider the Nazis and the USSR genocides.

I'm not calling any past racism, all of the ones I've mentioned still exist today. Although I don't remember from what tribe he was, in a meeting with an American Aboriginal, while showing us all his culture, had also stated how much he and his people had been stigmatized throughout his life (he's wasn't old either). He basically explained how his own mother's ethnicity caused him shame through the discrimination that they were subjected to, and that as a result, he denounced being Aboriginal and later moved away to the big city, leaving everything behind. As you can guess, in many ways he later regretted that, and now feels compelled to use this to teach others about the underlying problems within our society and reserves. As for Mexicans, I'll let you judge this article on your own.

dtp883 wrote:I don't think the US level of racism can be leveled with the current state of Darfur or the mass killings of Rwanda. I must admit though Middle Easterners currently are the target of hate.

What is happening in Darfur is horrible, I think we can both agree on that. Though the Rwandan Genocide happened 15 years ago, it doesn't accurately reflect the state of modern Rwanda. And since you brought both of these up, the amount of civilian deaths caused by the war with Afghanistan and Iraq, on top of the US-funded Israeli war on Lebanon, basically triples out the figures of the first two mentioned together. The only difference is that no one has labelled your war as an all-out genocide, but no one had considered the war in Rwanda a genocide at the time either, until it was basically too late. Same thing happened with the Khmer Rouge Revolution in Cambodia, a regime based on the cultural revolution in China, but surpassing it in all aspects; it even puts modern North Korea to shame. But once more, the entire world never made much of it at the time. Briefly, if there was no racism against Middle Easterners, then explain Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, Maher Arar, the no fly list, or extraordinary rendition.

As for modern China, I never once stated anything against its abuses on Human Rights. I already agree with what you say about it, but this still doesn't mean that our Western World is devoid of its own abuses. In his book Les abus de la mémoire, Tzvetan Todorov basically states that our society must stop lingering within the memories of the past and believing in false realities, but rather use their example to address both the injustices of the present and prevent those in the future. Otherwise if we remain "culte de la mémoire" (cult of our own memory), we'll fail as a society to make progress and realize what is going on around us right now. While we easily criticize China for its far more visible form of censorship, we continue to ignore the censorship in our own society.

And for another comparison, why isn't Israel on that list? Within the last 6 years it's been accused several times of War Crimes, Human Rights abuses, and violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, just to name a few. Even Lebanon ranked overall higher on the list of Freedom of Press, compiled by Reporters Without Borders in 2008. To the point, even countries unmentioned in his list have serious issues in regards to Human Rights. To name a few more, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Mexico... If you're absolutely against all Human Rights, then I fail to see why I was criticized, when this requirement limits the entire world.

linguoboy wrote:The first problem I see is one of shifted goalposts. (...)

Yeah, I realized that as well. But unfortunately I could not make a direct comparison as there was no information listed on the United States itself. :/ Even Freedom House is based in the United States, so in regards to that, I would prefer to have an independant report that analyses not only the individual country's internal freedoms and violations to Human Rights, but external as well. What I like about Reporters Without Borders, is that for certain countries including the United States (36 & 119) and Israel (46 & 149), is that they provided rankings separately for internal and external (media) affairs.
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby linguoboy » Thu 07 May 2009 3:20 am

Zachary wrote:As for Mexicans, I'll let you judge this article on your own.

Pity, Zachary, you were sounding so reasonable until that last bit. Racism is a problem of institutional bias; a single anecdote focusing on a lone wingnut proves nothing. With sufficient diligence, I could turn up a similar story for any country you care to name, and it would have as little to say about the overall human rights situation there as it does in this case.

Zachary wrote:Yeah, I realized that as well. But unfortunately I could not make a direct comparison as there was no information listed on the United States itself. :/ Even Freedom House is based in the United States, so in regards to that, I would prefer to have an independant report that analyses not only the individual country's internal freedoms and violations to Human Rights, but external as well.

Of course that would be ideal, but absolute impartiality in these matters is a chimaera. The best we can do is try to line up a bunch of reports, examine their methodologies, try to control for their biases, and look for patterns.

The idea of figuring in "external" human rights violations is interesting, but given the status of the USA as the 800 lb gorilla among any gathering of nations, it's hard to conceive of a way of calculating it that won't put the sole remaining superpower on top. Most countries would have significantly better scores not because their governments were terrific respecters of their neighbours' human rights but because they lacked the power projection to deal them the damage they'd like to.

A good example of what I mean is exemplified by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (setting aside for a moment the complication of whether Israeli incursions into "self-governing" regions such as Gaza constitute an internal or external violation). Do you really think the tremendous imbalance in casualty figures has more to do with Palestinian restraint than their lack of heavy weaponry? Their eagerness to make use of suicide bombers makes me think otherwise, but then again that's exactly the kind of desperate strategy they might never have come up with if the had, say, a real air force.

A more minor problem would be the formula for divvying up responsibility among multiple participants in any international conflict. Forty-one nations, for instance, participated in the Us-led invasion of Afghanistan. How many strokes should each one take for the human rights violations which occurred as a result?
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Re: Countries or parts of the world you wouldn't want to go to

Postby Talib » Thu 07 May 2009 6:30 am

Zachary wrote:The only difference is that no one has labelled your war as an all-out genocide, but no one had considered the war in Rwanda a genocide at the time either, until it was basically too late (...) Briefly, if there was no racism against Middle Easterners, then explain Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, Maher Arar, the no fly list, or extraordinary rendition.
Intent matters in these cases.

Basically, if you can prove the purpose of the War on Terrorism was to kill and torture Middle Easterners, you can call it genocide. Genocide is premeditated, carefully planned extermination of a people. What's going on in Iraq is horrible, but war is not the same thing as genocide.
As for modern China, I never once stated anything against its abuses on Human Rights (...) while we easily criticize China for its far more visible form of censorship, we continue to ignore the censorship in our own society.
There is censorship in every society but it's the rule in China whereas it's the exception in America, and the same for Iran vs. Canada, North Korea vs. Sweden. That's why it's not comparable.
And for another comparison, why isn't Israel on that list? Within the last 6 years it's been accused several times of War Crimes, Human Rights abuses, and violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, just to name a few.
This is extremely contentious to say the least.

The problem with discussing Israel is that it's really two different states - the liberal democracy in Israel proper which grants its citizens substantial freedoms, and the occupied territory where the rule of law is weak and human rights are not protected. And criticizing Israel for what it does in what's not really their territory is often taken for criticism of the entire state. This is unfair, I think, and it leads to very heated debates which never seem to get resolved. This is why the methodology you mentioned - assessing internal and external policy separately - would come in handy.

Well. This is a very interesting discussion. Glad to see my interest in global politics comes in handy.
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