by Austin Bay
Oops, once again I've failed to use the festival's official name. But I've a quality excuse for my misnomer. I actually read the statements put out by the various well-coifed thieves, bananacakes, moral poseurs and shake-down artists attending the so-called "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa.
The more noxious polemics boil down to a telegram that reads: "We hate. We anger. So send money and TV cameras."
Exercising adult leadership and exhibiting backbone, the United States and Israel said bye-bye to the U.N.-sponsored hustle and walked out.
Domestic hustle artist Jesse Jackson has already weighed in with a testy critique of the U.S. departure. "The American delegation never walked in," Jackson complained.
Complaint? Call that a compliment to intellect and integrity. Secretary of State Colin Powell, much to Jackson's personal and political chagrin, knows a corrupt farce when he observes one.
Powell kept his comments cool and careful, yet sharp. "I have instructed our representatives at the World Conference Against Racism to return home," Powell said. "I have taken this decision with regret because of the importance of the international fight against racism and the contribution that this conference could have made to it."
"I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language," Powell added.
There's plenty of that. If you thought the U.N. had left the woolly days of "Zionism equals racism," you're wrong. Several Arab states insisted on labeling Israel a "racist state" bent on committing "genocide."
For the record, some of the most noxious statements haven't originated in Durban. The conference, however, serves as a "media magnet." Radical organizations leverage the militant tone and temper set by the delegates to propagate their malevolent agitprop. For example, hard-line Islamist groups in Pakistan and Malaysia have used the conference to attack Israel.
The hijacking of international multilateral organizations and multilateral forums by anti-Western bigots isn't a new phenomenon. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used similar conferences to foment anti-American discontent. With the cameras glued to the dais, angry delegates railed about Western imperialism, exploitative capitalism and the threat of American nuclear weapons.
Communism's absolute horrors, revealed after the Soviet collapse, should have shut down this form of global farce, but old habits die hard.
Hence, the Durban appearance of an ancient, wheezing, but still venting Fidel Castro demanding the United States pay reparations to African nations for "the legacy of slavery."
No commentators in Durban mention that former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, after ending his exile in Havana, said Castro's clique was one of the most racist gangs he'd ever encountered. No mention of how Cuban military shenanigans expanded local African conflicts, as Castro helped the USSR pursue its strategy of destabilization. Though those "wars of the periphery" failed to destabilize the West, the "legacy of proxy wars" continues to savage Africa.
The Durban media magnet also drew Jesse Jackson. In America, Jackson is a damaged man. Jackson's "love child" fiasco and serious questions about his financial dealings have eroded the moral authority he earned fighting Jim Crow.
In the Durban limelight, however, Jackson gets an uncritical audience that applauds his denunciation of the 17th century slave trade.
Lost in the anti-American ruckus, and missing from Jackson's condemnation, is the 21st century slave trade, which flourishes in West Africa, in Sudan and in low spots across Asia.
What's truly sad is that multilateral human rights conferences could serve useful ends.
The forum for debating armed crises, however, is the Security Council. If you want to decry the Israeli-Palestinian War, go there. Unfortunately, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appears to lack the spine to enforce that diplomatic discipline.
Carefully airing historical grievances can serve to defuse tensions, but it is a heinous fraud when history is used to mask contemporary evils. Slavery is unjust, but the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended two centuries ago. The historical responsibility lies as much with the slave-dealing kingdoms of West Africa as they do with long-dead Western slave shippers and slave owners.
Focusing on slaving in the Sudan or caste-related discrimination (which affects perhaps 250 million people in Asia and Africa) would bring attention to contemporary injustice.
However, that would implicate Third World elites and reveal how damn few of them really care about justice.