Sometime back, BYU Magazine ran a feature on BYU’s International Cinema which included mention of the difficulty of finding high-quality foreign films that would meet the requirements of the BYU code of standards. The director of the program was quoted as observing — with no apparent hint of irony — that films from Iran had proven to be a good choice for the theater, not only because of their high artistic quality, but because the censorship imposed upon them by the revolutionary Islamic regime in Iran made Iranian films just perfect for BYU standards.
Now, were I to discover at some point that my personal values closely paralleled those of a repressive fundamentalist regime, I hope I might be inclined to launch a deliberate re-evaluation of myself. Nonetheless, the discovery of not only strange, but positively repulsive, bedfellows seems to have less power to prompt institutional introspection.
The United States, for example, has found during recent international debates on human rights and on the International Criminal Court, that the only other nations supporting its position were not only nations that the U.S. has condemned as violators of human rights, but the very worst of such nations, known to commit unspeakable atrocities against their own populaces. The motivation for such nations to object to human rights resolutions, and to a forum to prosecute crimes against humanity, is fairly obvious. Why the United States would care to be aligned with such nations in that posture is less obvious, and more than a little embarrassing.
Much the same pattern emerges with international documents and declarations on social relations, where the United States has frequently allied itself with Iran, with the Sudan, and with other repressive regimes in order to introduce favored language or definitions concerning families, child rearing, and reproductive rights. The alignment of the United States with these regimes is, again, troubling. Even more troubling has been the involvement the Church-supported World Family Policy Center, housed at Brigham Young University, in fostering and brokering such alliances.
Given the horrific abuses committed by the Sudan and similar nations, most particularly their treatment of women and children, the support they offer for particular language in international documents on family-related matters should perhaps make that language somewhat suspect. It is doubtful that they are giving their official sanction to such language because they believe that “Families Are Forever!”
Or, in other words, with friends like these, shouldn’t we be at least a little worried when we find ourselves on their side?