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UN race conference biased against West

By W. James Antle III
web posted August 13, 2001

The upcoming United Nations' Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance would be better described as the UN Conference of Hypocrisy, Demagoguery, Wealth Redistribution and Related Nonsense. Scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa beginning August 31, it is already clear that it is going to be hijacked by radicals who loathe capitalism and the West and have agendas far removed from the conference's stated purpose.

Rather than concentrate on human rights abuses, racial injustices and impediments to wealth creation and economic progress happening today, there will be much focus on wrongs committed hundreds of years ago. This is because many convention delegates adhere to an ideological viewpoint that the Western world, rather than having achieved a degree of material progress and individual liberty that should be emulated elsewhere, is instead an agent of unrelenting oppression of women and minorities. Never mind that bashing the West rather than learning lessons from Western civilization will yield no tangible benefit to anyone this conference is ostensibly supposed to help.

The focus is thus likely to be on calls for wealthy Western nations to pay the Third World (and presumably their own minority populations) reparations for slavery and colonialism. There will be hearty denunciations of corporations, international trade and that favorite bogeyman of the world's perpetually aggrieved community, globalization. The United States will likely be particularly singled out as a pernicious force for oppression and imperialism on the world scene. For good measure, when attacking the US and Western Europe grows stale, the delegates will take up their cudgels against Israel and attempt once again to equate Zionism with racism.

To President Bush's credit, he has stated that the US will participate in this $21 million boondoggle only to the extent that it is not a UN-sponsored rally for reparations and anti-Zionism. If the assortment of thugs and dictators who always represent a disproportionate share of those present at UN gatherings to denounce the human rights records of everyone else persists in this ranting, US delegates will boycott meetings. Predictably, this will be cited as evidence that the US in general and the Bush administration in particular is indifferent to racism at best and inescapably racist at worst.

Balance is one thing that will be missing from the UN conference on racism. While there is likely to be much airing of the historical wrongs committed by the US and Western Europe, non-Western participation in the international slave trade will almost certainly be ignored. Preliminary reports show an almost exclusive focus is planned on the transatlantic slave trade, which glosses over the roles of non-Westerners in slavery. Of course, to allow anything else to enter the discussion would complicate the case for reparations, wouldn't it?

Young Sudanese boys waiting to be sold into slavery
Young Sudanese boys waiting to be sold into slavery

There is also the hypocrisy of Sudan and Mauritania, where slavery still is practiced, lecturing the United States, which abolished slavery in 1865, on this subject. Similarly, Great Britain became a leading force in the international movement for abolition after William Wilberforce's bill to end the English slave trade was adopted by Parliament in 1807. A month after Wilberforce's death in 1833, Parliament passed a bill that emancipated all the slaves in the British Empire and banned slavery. The historical fact that Western nations enslaved Africans should not be ignored, but neither should the unique leadership role the West played in the abolition of slavery throughout the world.

It is of course not fashionable to credit Western civilization with anything other than a legacy of oppression, which is presumed to be the source of its wealth rather than a climate of relative liberty. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East with foundations in Western institutions, so naturally its existence must be questioned as well. Yet those who wish to label Zionism as racism are oddly silent on the subject of anti-Semitism, with some Arab delegates reportedly opposing the inclusion of anti-Semitism among the intolerance this conference is meeting to condemn. It goes without saying that some of the most virulently anti-Israel forces condone anti-Semitism and rely on media reports and school textbooks that defame Jews and either deny or downplay the Holocaust. Arnold Beichman, Hoover Institution senior fellow and able debunker of globalist America-bashers, notes that some of this material "would make Joseph Goebbels proud."

Also typical of UN "solutions" to social and economic problems, the creation of new wealth will not feature prominently as an agenda item. Instead, the world's wealth will be treated as a finite quantity to be redistributed from the greedy colonialists and imperialists of the West to the Third World poor. Nowhere in this talk about reparations, foreign aid, debt forgiveness and other statist schemes is there any recognition of the need for real wealth to be created in the Third World by the residents of those countries themselves. Where the free market has been tried, including in Africa, it has produced greater material benefits and personal freedom. This dependency on global largess will not ultimately benefit anyone other than socialist ideologues seeking power.

Little more can be expected of an international body that already demonstrated earlier this year that it believes Libya, Sudan, Cuba and Communist China are more dedicated to the advancement of human rights than the United States. There will be much rhetoric critical of the West's human rights record.

George Mason University economics professor Walter Williams puts this notion into perspective wonderfully. Williams recently asked in his syndicated column: "Think about it. If you are a feminist, where would you prefer to live: Iran, Saudi Arabia, China or a country in Africa? If you are a criminal, where would you prefer to be tried and imprisoned: Turkey, Mexico, China or Russia? If you are a minority, where would you prefer to live: Burundi, Albania, Malaysia or Liberia? If you were an unborn spirit condemned to live a life of poverty, but permitted to choose a country for that life, what country would you choose: Chad, Romania, North Korea or Kenya?"

Obviously, when the question is framed in this manner, the superiority of Western human rights protections stands in stark contrast to what is enjoyed by much of the rest of the world. Yet it is precisely those countries that are the targets of these international conferences, while many dictatorships not only are free of criticism but join in the condemnations. It quickly becomes clear that genuine concern about human rights and racism take a back seat when an agenda is being served.

The victims of racism would not suffer in the slightest if the United States refused to participate in this charade. Let the politically correct hordes and international bureaucrats talk themselves blue without us. ESR

W. James Antle III is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right and can be reached at wjantle@enterstageright.com.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Bracing for more United Nations' race baiting by Tom DeWeese (August 13, 2001)
    Tom DeWeese says a U.N. conference later this month will simply act as a venue to demand reparations for slavery
  • Sending a signal by Steven Martinovich (August 6, 2001)
    Steve Martinovich urges Canada to stay away from the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
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