Hypocritical Whataboutery

Hypocritical Whataboutery
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Amidst global condemnation and consternation, Myanmar’s leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has stated that the handling of Rohingya Muslims, 700,000 of whom have fled to Bangladesh amid a brutal military campaign, could have been better. However, Su Kyi still defended security forces from charges of civilian atrocities. It may be recalled that Myanmar’s army is accused of mass rape, killings and setting fire to thousands of homes, in an orchestrated campaign to drive them out, in the aftermath of an August 2017 attack by Rohingya militants on security outposts. The Nobel laureate also defended the incarceration of Reuter’s journalists on the grounds that, “they were not imprisoned and sentenced for journalism but that they had broken the law”. There are basically two interpretations to Suu Kyi’s hypocritical whataboutery. The first corresponds to the adage, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The woman leader after tasting power has been corrupted and has lost her moral compass, courage and integrity. This, often times, happens when political activists come to power. Examples galore can be cited in support of this assertion. Power and power politics are different ball games than activism. The former entails a critique of power and structures thereof and suffering for this and, in certain cases, is ennobling. But, power and its practices, entails tradeoffs which can be moral and ethical too.( In the case of Suu Kyi, the moral tradeoff has been acutely poignant and she by maintaining a mute silence on the plight and attempted ethnocide of Rohingya’s has chosen to side with power). Second, because Rohingya’s were Muslim, Suu Kyi, has revealed her true colors with her preference to be silent and thereby has implicitly chosen to condone their ethnocide. These themes also pan out in the Nobel laureates spin and defense of the Myanmar regime’s incarceration of the Reuter’s journalists. That all this constitutes a travesty amounts to stating the obvious. But, there is a lesson to be drawn here: those dishing out Nobel peace prices must employ discretion and prudence while making the criteria for this prestigious prize. Otherwise, both the prize and the ideals upon which it is predicated upon will stand discredited. To redeem both the institution of the Nobel Prize and its ideals thereof, powers that be must cancel the prize to Suu Kyi. After her inane and hypocritical stance and whataboutery might even be an imperative!

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