Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Haste Makes Waste (Or, Of Time & Bullshit)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) concedes that it can't contradict the account of the Iraeli Defense Force (IDF) of how a group of Palestinians were killed on a Gaza beach.

What it hasn't said, so far, is that it jumped the gun in the first place. And who can blame HRW? We're all about jumping to conclusions these days, aren't we?--rather than embracing the idea that fact-finding, objective analysis and, ultimately, assigning accountability, much less judgment and blame, might take a bit o' time and (heaven forefend!) humility in putting aside both institutional and personal assumptions.

None of us know the entire story, yet, of what happened on that beach--though you'd think so, on both sides, for the most part, reading far and wide.

None of us, including myself.

What I do know is that, while I appreciate that HRW is backtracking a bit, as it should, I am mindful of the new benchmark set by that so-called international watchdog group when caught out:

Conceding that it can't contradict.

That's not good enough, HRW, not if you care about your credibility among a broader pool of people. How about "conceding" that you didn't wait until you "knew" before pronouncing a judgment that--based on your status on the world stage--you had to have known would be picked up far and wide as having so-called "independent" weight? How about admitting that you jumped to conclusions too soon, and then blithely watched them get distributed far and wide?

How about simply saying: "To further our noble mission, we must always fully investigate before coming to conclusions and passing judgment, lest we betray and set back the very integrity that we claim as the standing to take on any transgressors far and wide, no matter who they are. In this case, we failed in the predicate and thus risked the latter. That has taught us something for the future. And one more thing--we are embarrassed and ashamed that our response to the current situation can be summarized thusly:

HRW concedes that it can't contradict ... ."

The plain fact is that if even if HRW turns out to be right in the end--which it seems it won't be, as it initially presented things--it needlessly soiled itself by rushing to judgment. And why? And for what?

Watchdog groups and entities of all stripes, take note.