Pascal Bruckner is one of my favorite French intellectuals, someone who cuts through the maze of post-modern morality like a lazer through butter. So I was pleased to find that he’s taken on Durban II.
Boycott Durban II
Sign and Sight, 16/06/2008
At the 2001 UN Conference against Racism in Durban, anti-colonialism bared its anti-Semitic face. Democracies should stay away from a repeat performance next year in Geneva. By Pascal Bruckner
In September 2001 the South African city of Durban played host to the third United Nations World Conference against Racism, which was aimed at achieving recognition for crimes related to slavery and colonialism. The event’s organisers hoped that the whole of mankind would use this ceremonious occasion to face up to its history and chronicle events with equanimity.
It was billed as a conference against racism, and had a “soft” millennial quality of hoping that the world would enter a new era where it left racism behind.
These good intentions rapidly degenerated into one-upmanship among victims and bloodlust directed at Israeli organisations and anyone else suspected of being Jewish. The original intent, which was to heal the wounds of the past through a sort of collective therapy and arrive at new standards for human rights, twisted into an outburst of hatred which, in the wake of the September 11 attacks that followed only days later, disappeared from the public eye.
It was an orgy of hatred aimed at Israel and the USA, and offers perhaps the single most concentrated example of demopathy available. Led by Arab nations, it excoriated the USA for her slavery (almost a century and a half ago) and Israel for her racism and genocide (with al Durah as poster boy and patron saint), when Arab states are currently the only ones actually engaged in both genocide and slavery (specifically of sub-Saharan Africans). The hypocrisy was suffocating, and the participation of “human rights NGOS’s” one of the most astounding expressions of the moral corruption of the “progressive” left on record.
It’s time we had another look. Against the wishes of the organisers, Durban became an arena where people screamed and hurled insults at each other in a re-enactment of the comedy of damned, in the face of the white exploiter. “The pain and anger are still felt. The dead, through their descendants, cry out for justice”, Kofi Annan said on August 31 of the same year – an astounding choice of words for a UN secretary general and more a call for revenge than reconciliation. The delegates at the conference, particularly those from the Arab-Muslim states, also understood it as such and, together with the African group, they transformed the conference into a stage for anti-colonialist revenge. The West, which is genocidal by nature, should recognise its crimes, beg for forgiveness and pay symbolic and financial reparations to the victims of its oppression. Emotions ran high and anger was brought to the boil by coverage of the second Intifada which was being violently quashed by the Israeli army.
Zionism was condemned outright as the contemporary form of Nazism and apartheid, but so was “white viciousness”, which had caused “one Holocaust after the other in Africa” through human trafficking, slavery and colonialism. Israel should disappear, its politicians should be brought before an international tribunal similar to the one in Nuremberg. 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 historical slavery, while in his own country, people were being shamelessly thrown into slavery as he spoke. It was like a cannibal suddenly calling for vegetarianism.
… as the blood still drips from his teeth and the next victim is on the spit. Nice metaphor for demopathy. (Let’s not mention that, at the time, his government was pursuing a genocidal policy in the south of Sudan (where blacks, Christian and animist live) that had killed over a million people and had gone largely unnoticed because the human rights NGOs — Amnesty, HRW — had no room for it on their agendas.)
One might think that this sinister comedy would give the UN second thoughts about repeating its mistake. But there is no underestimating the extraordinary determination of dictators and fundamentalists, who have transformed the UN Human Rights Commission into a platform for their demands. A Durban II (The Durban Review Conference) is due to take place in Geneva 20 to 24 April 2009, and it promises to be a repeat of Durban 1 (more information here).
“Dictators and fundamentalists…” I’d have said dictators and religious fascists rather than fundamentalists. But the overall point is critical. If you don’t understand how grotesque it is to have Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China, Russia, and Senegal, on the “human rights council” of the UN, then you haven’t yet caught up to the pathetic “realities” of the 21st century. If the UN still has some glow of idealism for you, then you don’t realize how far the moral collapse of the “human rights” progressives has progressed (and you probably think the New York Times is a reliable newspaper).
The reports and projects which have been mounting up over the past six years reports do not encourage optimism. On September 14, 2007, Doudou Diene, UN Special Rapporteur for racism, xenophobia and discrimination held a speech in front of the United Nations in Geneva (available here as pdf). In it he repeatedly blames Western countries for using September 11 to encourage the most perfidious forms of Islamophobia. He defines this Islamophobia as a form of racism which has its roots in the first contact between Islam and Christianity, notably the Crusades and the Spanish Reconquista. He does make mention of anti-Semitism, anti-Christian sentiment and other forms of religious suppression, but his main focus is “anti-Muslim racism”. Throughout Europe and the United States intellectuals and politicians of all stripes are guilty of a wide array of offences against the religion of the prophet.
This initiative is crucial in understand the Jihadis demopathic strategy: forbid criticism of Islam as racism, thereby making it illegal for Europeans and non-Muslims everywhere to identify the enemy of democratic civilization. The demopaths creed: “Use democracy to destroy democracy.”
These include the principle of laicism, as championed by the French, the “ban on religious symbols in public schools”, the “threatened ban on the burqa in England’s public buildings” and stigmatisation of the veil and the headscarf: all signs of a resurgence of intolerance. Diene regrets that laicism has lead “to a general suspicion of religious belief” and he believes that “dogmatic secularism” is being used to “manipulate the freedom of religion”. So it comes as no surprise to him that the West, as a “pillar of slavery and colonialism”, is leading the way in a “systematic denigration of Muslim intellectuals” (here he is thinking particularly of Tariq Ramadan) and the idea of a “clash of civilisations” à la Samuel Huntington.
There’s a certain bitter irony at work here. The Muslims are arguing that because of their exceptional sensitivity to criticism (classic honor-shame attitude), they should not be criticized. They have no problem saying the most vile things about others, however. For Europe to cede to this aggressive Islamic demand for exemption even as Muslims practice the most grotesque forms of demonizing, is at once to regress to pre-modern conditions of Dhimmitude, and to throw away centuries of painful emotional development in which public figures learned to endure public criticism without offing the offending parties… and hence made it possible to have a free press.
In other words, to pursue another analogy that I’ve tried to make, political correctness today operates as a form of cultural AIDS which prevents Europeans from recognizing the threat posed by Islamist ambitions to dominate the continent. Nick Cohen (not Jewish) found this out to his amazement when he denounced the unholy alliance of “Peace” demonstrators and warmongering Jihadis in London in 2003: he was immediately denounced as a Zionist tool. If this move to outlaw criticism of Islam succeeds, it will effectively make any sane discussion of the situation in Europe illegal.
By contrast, as he sees it, the persecution of Christian minorities in the Middle East, Africa and India is the unfortunate consequence of the missionary work of Evangelical groups from North America, who are letting their religious brothers suffer for their own bigotry.
Now this is particularly choice, a demopath’s delight. You Westerners can’t criticize Islam, no matter how aggressively it missionizes, or even how violently it conducts its Jihad against you, because that would be expressing prejudice against Muslims. Muslims, on the other hand, persecute Christians in their midst because their Western brethren missionize. So in the name of human rights, the West has to allow the Muslims to be as aggressive as they want, and take responsibility for the Muslim assault on religious minorities because the West is to blame for the (far less) aggressive behavior of their own religious denominations. Demopath’s motto: when it comes to human rights, heads I win, tails you lose.
As Charles Jacobs points out in his work on the “Human Rights Complex,” the underlying assumptions are racist: you don’t lecture a cat for toying with a mouse before eating it. Similarly, you don’t criticize a Muslim for torturing and persecuting infidels, or apostates, or heretics, or even fellow believers: it’s part of their nature. But let that assumption remain unspoken, otherwise you’re an Islamophobe. What’s interesting here is that this racist logic is being used by a Muslim (? Presumably, he’s from Senegal, which is 95% Muslim), to tie the hands of infidels. For him, the joke is on us. We’re the earnest fools.
All criticism of dogma, every questioning of religious belief is, Diene says, a form of racist insult and should be punished. Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius have become untouchable icons, who must be protected against criminal attacks. Should we reintroduce blasphemy as a criminal offence like the fundamentalists of the three monotheistic religions are suggesting – in a return to the Ancien Regime?
Precisely. But note, this isn’t just a return to a pre-modern, prime-divider regime where state and “church” are part of the same elite dominion of the culture, but specifically an Islamic prime-divider society, with its apartheid legal system the disadvantages other religions.
Unsurprisingly, Diene’s report has the ardent support of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the majority of the Non-Aligned Movement where you can count the democracies on one hand. Because Doudou Diene makes it his policy to refrain from all criticism of authoritarian regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America and reserves his munition for the States of Europe and North America, whom he accuses of fomenting pogroms against their minorities. It will also come as no surprise that in April 2007 Iran was nominated as vice president and Syria as rapporteur for the Disarmament Commission. This might be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic!
Which raises the question how a supposedly intelligent and sincere organization like the ACLU can present Diene and the UN in so favorable a light?
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 (Libya, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Cuba etc.) co-opt democratic language and instrumentalise legal standards, to position themselves against democracies without ever putting turning the questions on themselves.
This is the working definition of demopathy.
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 by despots in the service of obscurantism and the suppression of women! It is being used to justify precisely the things which it was formulated to fight: suppression, prejudice, inequality.
In the hands of these powerful and organised lobbies, 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.
Pascal Bruckner, born in 1948, is one of the best known French “nouveaux philosophes”. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne under Roland Barthes. His works include The Temptation of Innocence – Living in the Age of Entitlement (Algora Publishing, 2000), The Tears of the White Man: Compassion As Contempt (The Free Press, 1986) The Divine Child: A Novel of Prenatal Rebellion (Little Brown & Co, 1994) Evil Angels (Grove Press, 1987)
Wherever you are, take a stand for civil polities, human rights, and moral sanity. Inform yourself about Durban I and Durban II, and the corruption of the UN. Talk to everyone you know, and urge your government to pull out.
If 8 years after the scandal of Durban I, we’re in for a repeat, we don’t deserve to inherit the woundrous freedoms our ancestors fought so hard to acquire. God does not create all men equal; at most, we can be inspired by our understanding of God to create civic polities that do work hard to create and preserve those equal rights. And now is the time of testing.