A couple of weeks ago, Sean Penn decided to throw his weight behind the Argentine claim to the Falklands, or at least to state that the UK should enter negotiations over the islands’ (and the Falkland Islanders) fate. He was roundly criticised by many, including me, for not appearing to particularly give a damn about what the actual inhabitants of the islands thought.
He’s now penned a Guardian piece, following up on his comments then, sounding slightly wounded at the reception they got in the British press. He still doesn’t really appear to address the issue of absolute total 100% difference of opinion between Argentina, that says the islands should be handed over to them, and the people who live there, who are absolutely totally against that.
I felt it appropriate to address my personal belief in the necessity for diplomacy to resolve a deeply held Argentinian conviction of ancestry and sovereignty that was being denied an international forum … the UK has refused to return to diplomatic efforts regarding the status of UK and Argentinian claims to the Malvinas Islands …
He does then basically deny that he denied the wishes of the Falkland Islanders:
the principal re-sculpting of my remarks by irresponsible journalism was to encourage the inflammatory notion that I had taken a specific position against those currently residing in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, that they should either be deported or absorbed into Argentine rule. I neither said, nor insinuated that.
He might not perhaps have said it, but if you support negotiations to address one party’s claims, you are rather insinuating that you think those claims have merit, surely? But regardless, in this new article he then goes on to mention nothing about the Falklanders at all, save for:
The “Falklanders'” slogan is “Desire the right”. Indeed this is a human desire and not the exclusive domain of Falkland Islanders. And it is the same desire for which so many Chileans and Argentinians suffered and ultimately triumphed. The recognition that the diplomatic process of the 1970s gives to some of the legitimacy of Argentinian claims should not be dispelled or denied by the great United Kingdom through the exploitation of a more recent past, or for the greed of superpowers desperate to control the natural resources of the world.
So it’s basically, “The Falklanders say they should have rights, but hey what, so does everyone else?”
Not once does he mention in his piece that the Falklands are self-governing and damn-near independent under their own democratically elected government. He insists on addressing his entire message to the government of the United Kingdom and the people of the United Kingdom. Would it hurt him, just once, to talk to the Falkland Islanders, rather than about them? As a citizen of the UK, I have no idea why he’s talking to me, when it quite literally has nothing to do with me. Why are you talking to me? Talk to them? To ignore them (the Falkland Islanders) in this way is just staggeringly rude.
But I thought the issues were best summed up in a couple comments. The first, from wryape, neatly sums up the failure of logic in saying that anyone can demand negiations on anything, at any time, and anyone who declines those demands is intrinsically in the wrong:
Dear Sean Penn
Can I have your house in Malibu please?
What?!!? you wont even go to arbitration to discuss it ?!?!
You sir are a disgrace.
The second comment is from an Argentine, and seems to me to pretty much sum up the Argentine position:
bobbydasler : you are right. but, kelpers are invaders of argentine territory. they have not right to stay in the island. there opinions no are important. argentina claims for soberania not for the people. excuse me my poor english. [link]
The English is slightly poor (perfectly reasonable, and it’s much, much better than my Spanish) so I’ll take the liberty of rewording it to say what I think it’s meant to say.
The Falklander Islanders are invaders of Argentine territory. They have no right to stay on the islands. Their opinions are not important. Argentina’s claims are for the land not the people.
Let’s just remind ourselves that the people he’s talking about have (as a people) lived there for nearly two hundred years. The Argentines (or at least that one) know that the people who actually live on the Falklands aren’t Argentines, but they don’t care. These are the people whose claims Sean Penn is speaking in favour of. They feel that they have more right to the land than the people who inhabit it, and want to take that land away from the people who inhabit it – and are more than happy to say so.
If that isn’t colonialism, I don’t know what is.