28 Feb 2020
Using a Chinese metric, one can credibly describe the long era of European history following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476 until 1945 as, more often than not, a “warring states” period. Before and after that fall, powerful tribes invaded by land from the north. Vikings later did likewise by the sea. Within much of Europe, numerous kingdoms were recurrently engaged in conflict with one another. Then came the Reformation in the 16th century. Christianity was split as never before. Still, more savage levels of warfare followed.
Martin Luther, the man who did most to trigger the Reformation, was deeply hostile to the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. In due course, he also became militantly anti-Jewish. Here we encounter another severe Western religious divide — one which dates back over 2,000 years to the dawn of the birth of Christianity.
In the 20th century, Europe brought us World War I, from 1914 to 1918 — the “war to end all wars”. That war did not secure this outcome. World War II followed from 1939 to 1945.
The most infamous aspect of WWII was the Holocaust — the name given to the horrific Nazi-German scheme where millions of Jews and other “undesirables” were exterminated in a series of central European death camps. As it happens, Luther’s anti-Jewish legacy helped lay important foundations for this genocidal project.
The propagation of misleading and false information, for example citing the dangers of eating regular Chinese food, about the disease is epidemic. Highly discriminatory discussion and treatment of Chinese people is increasingly rampant in places like Australia, the UK, and the US
The lead-up to this overwhelming terror encompassed years of fearsome Nazi attacks on Jews, which included Kristallnacht, in November 1938, when hundreds of synagogues were wrecked, thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed and some 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The extreme revulsion felt around the world — after the totality of these unspeakable Nazi projects was revealed — helped energize a powerful desire to create the United Nations. In early 1946, the first meeting of the UN General Assembly was held in London. In late 1948, the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a pivotal part of the project to protect individual rights against horrific abuse.
This seminal international instrument states in its title that it is a universal declaration. In the preamble, it goes on to proclaim the essential need for “the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
These are admirable aims. Since 1948, a vast human rights movement has evolved around the globe, standing on the shoulders of the UDHR. This movement has asserted the crucial need to protect human rights and its readiness to do so.
The outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, in Wuhan, in 2019 has, however, conspicuously tested this readiness on a global basis... Click here to read the full text.
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