Amnesty should get over its Messiah complex: the people of the Third World don’t need to be 'saved'
The campaign video above captures pretty well why I won’t be wishing Amnesty International a happy 50th birthday. It features Amnesty’s Western supporters looking gobsmackingly smug as they imagine themselves waltzing into the chaotic Third World to free prisoners from filthy jails, or remove the blindfolds from the oppressed, or take the guns out of the hands of brain-warped, warlike children. It rather confirms the Messiah complex of Amnesty’s activists – We can make the blindfolded see! We can save the children! – and their view of the world as being neatly split between a caring West and a brutalised South. In this narcissistic notion that the Third World is packed either with brutes who must be condemned or innocents who must be saved, Amnesty has carried into the twenty-first century the Kiplingesque view of foreign peoples as “half devil, half child”. On its fiftieth anniversary, anyone who genuinely cares about the fate of people who live without democracy and freedom might do well to ponder the difference between patronising those people and offering them real solidarity. Amnesty does way too much of the former, and hardly any of the latter.
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