Sunday, August 10, 2008

Against Moral Inversion: Petition to reject Durban II

"Many of these NGO’s espouse the universalist language of human rights but
actually use it to defend highly particularist causes: the rights of particular
national groups or minorities or classes or persons…
The problem is that particularism conflicts with universalism at the point at which one’s commitmentto a group leads one to countenance human rightsviolations towards another group.”

(Michael Ignatieff: “Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry”)

The preparations for Durban II are picking up steam. Here are two of its objectives being outlined:

To re-define antisemitism

To limit our freedom of speech:

More than 30 journalists, authors, scientists and artists in Europe, the United States and the Middle East have now joined a petition urging European governments to reject UN World Conference against Racism, Durban II, slated to take place in Geneva, in April 2009:

While the "official aim of the event was the public recognition of slavery and colonialism as crimes" the conference promiscuously "mutated into an outright tribunal against Israel and its right to exist as well as defense for unfree states and dictators." Furthermore, the unbridled anti-Israel invective gave rise to a celebration of classical antisemitic tropes and intimidation.

There can be no legitimacy conferred upon an event that inspires people to read "Mein Kampf" and adulate Hitler's projects.

Pascal Bruckner wrote a few weeks ago on Sigh and Sight:

"Anti-Semitic cartoons were circulated, copies of "Mein Kampf" and the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" were handed out. Beneath a photo of Hitler were the words that Israel would never have existed and the Palestinians would never have had to spill their blood if he had been victorious. A number of delegates were physically threatened, there were calls of "Death to Jews". This farce came to a head when the Sudanese Minister of Justice, Ali Mohamed Osman Yasin, demanded reparations for slavery, while in his own country, people were being shamelessly thrown into slavery. It was like a cannibal suddenly calling for vegetarianism.


In a nutshell: Anti-racism in the UN has become the ideology of totalitarian regimes who use it in their own interests. Dictatorships or notorious half-dictatorships co-opt democratic language and instrumentalise legal standards, to position themselves against democracies without ever turning the questions on themselves. A new Inquisition is establishing itself, which brandishes "defamation of religion" to quash any impulses of doubt, particularly in Islamic countries. And this at a time when millions of Muslims, particularly in Europe, want to distance themselves from bigotry and fundamentalism. In a reversal of values, anti-racism is being propagated ... to justify precisely the things which it was formulated to fight: suppression, prejudice, inequality .... the UN is becoming an instrument of retrogression in the world, when it was created to promote justice, peace, and human dignity.

Europe must take a firm stand against this buffoonery: boycott it, plain and simple. Just as Canada has done. Perhaps we should also think about dissolving the Human Rights Commission or only letting truly democratic countries in. It is intolerable that in the year 2008 - like in the thirties - nations which recognise justice, the multi-party state and freedom of expression are being brought before the tribunal of history by the lobbies of fanatics and tyrants."

The disintegration of the first Durban conference into this boundless spree of hatred was acknowledged by none other than the former UN High commissioner, Mary Robinson, who chaired the conference:

Unfortunately, some participants, both inside and outside the Conference, wanted to make the conflict in the Middle East, which at the time had entered a new phase of violence, the principal focus of Durban. At the Non-Governmental Forum, a parallel meeting which, as is common practice at UN conferences, was also held in Durban to coincide with the inter-governmental discussions, some participants resorted to blatant anti-Semitic speech and activities to convey their message.

And so, at a Conference in which we were supposed to be defending human rights values, we found ourselves faced with appalling bigotry and intolerance. I and many others condemned such language and, in the circumstances, I refused to recommend the final NGO document to the Conference.

The New Centrist blogged about another initiative, sponsored by Eye on the UN .

About Canada's welcome decision to absent itself from Durban II, I opined here.


At 2:14 PM EDT, Anonymous TNC said...

Thanks for the link.


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