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The World Conference Against Whitey
Mark Steyn National Post There is no great issue facing the world today that can't be made worse by having a UN conference on it. But even so the grand comedy at Durban this week has effortlessly surpassed all expectations.
There was Mary Robinson doing her "Ich bin ein Juden" routine to quiet down the noisier Jew-haters. There was the Norwegian delegation soberly negotiating into the small hours with the world's pre-eminent dictators over the degree and number of vile slurs the final communiqué could accommodate ("OK, you can have two 'bloodsucking Zionists' but take out the 'Jew Fascists' "). There were the Syrians, who denounced the Holocaust as "a Jewish lie." There was the unmatched ovation for Fidel Castro, hailed by South Africa's Foreign Minister as leader of "the most democratic country in the world." There was the Organisation of African Unity's demand that reparations for the Hutu slaughter of the Tutsis should be paid -- by the Americans, naturally. There were major disagreements on the more general reparations front between the African-American bloviators, who wanted whitey's payments to go to individuals, and African Presidents, who thought it would be more convenient if the West just dropped off one big cheque at the Presidential Palace. There was Robert Mugabe's government, taking time out of its hectic schedule of terrorizing white farmers to call on Britain and the U.S. to "apologize unreservedly for their crimes against humanity."
But, most importantly, a useful spotlight was beamed on the most wicked racist societies on earth -- like Canada. Matthew Coon Come, national chief of the "First Nations," told delegates that he and his fellow natives were victims of a "racist and colonial syndrome of dispossession and discrimination" and that only last year his people were savagely attacked by "white mobs." The crowd applauded wildly. Things got so lively that as accomplished a demagogue as Canada's chief delegate, Hedy ("C'mon, Baby, Light My Fire") Fry, was obliged to concede that some of these chaps were a tad strong meat even for her.
At the time of writing, Ottawa's official position seems to be that it would like to bail out, but the timing is awkward: If they go too soon, it'll look as if they're just tagging along with the Americans; but if they wait too long the EU will have ankled and it'll look as if Canada's just tagging along with the Europeans. Our fearless Dominion's agonizing nicely distills the essence of these confabs: Whatever you do, don't make it look as if you agree with America or Europe.
Meanwhile, back home, progressive opinion, while acknowledging certain problematic aspects, is urging Canada to stay. Only by remaining at the table can we "influence the debate." Take the Syrians, whose position is that the Holocaust is "a Jewish lie." Okay, we can probably never get them to accept that six million Jews were murdered but, if we join the Norwegians in all-night negotiations we might be able to persuade the Syrians to accept a compromise position acknowledging that, oh, eight or nine hundred may have died, mostly troublemakers who were asking for it. This would represent what dear old Mary Robinson, the Rev Jesse Jackson and Norway would call "progress."
As a conference on "Racism, Racial Intolerance, Xenophobia and/or Related Intolerance," it was perhaps misnamed, though it's exhibited large quantities of all four. But as a UN Conference Against Whitey, Jews And Capitalism -- or, in the preferred formulation, "techno-racism" -- it's a roaring success, and an important milestone for those who think the world could use fewer Canadas and more Zimbabwes.
Like a bank manager hanging upside down in a bondage dungeon, the West is paying for the delicious frisson of being flayed by the world's thugs. Twenty-five per cent of the cost of the Durban conference is being borne by the Americans alone. Along with Britain and Europe, they're also expected to pick up the tab for slavery, even though they were last to get into the game and first to get out. The UN and its conventioneers are not really interested in actual, specific, here-and-now "intolerance" -- like the Taleban's recent introduction of that retro fashion accessory, yellow identifying patches for Hindus -- or even in slavery, which today is alive and well in the Sudan, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, etc, etc. What they're interested in is the grand historical reckoning -- in putting the white man in the dock, getting him convicted and fined, and thus enabling what the OAU calls a "massive injection of new capital into places from Harare to Harlem, from Trinidad to Tanzania, from black Brazil to Burundi."
There is, of course, no point whatsoever to a massive injection of capital into Harare, unless you feel Robert Mugabe's pension plan is in urgent need of topping up. But the pointlessness is its own point. The further the colonial era recedes into the past, the more it's to blame. The West's current leaders -- Messrs. Blair, Jospin, Chrétien et al. -- are ill-placed to resist the charge: In essence they agree with their chastisers about the sins of their fathers, but feel that, as reformed multiculturalists, they themselves should be cut some slack.
What no one in their delegations will say is this -- that the West has nothing to apologize or pay for, least of all Britain. London abolished slavery in the British Isles in 1772 and within the Empire in 1833, in the teeth of fierce opposition from Arab and West African traders. If one had to single out one institution that did more to end the trade in human beings than any other, it would be the Royal Navy, whose ships enforced the ban at great risk to themselves. Yet the reflexive shame in their inheritance is such that no British -- or Canadian -- delegate in Durban would dream of standing up for the historical record.
If Colin Powell wanted to he could, for as the child of British subjects from the Caribbean -- he's sort of the Bush Administration's Hedy Fry -- he regards his family as a beneficiary of British imperialism. "American blacks sometimes regard Americans of West Indian origin as uppity and arrogant," he writes in his autobiography. "The feeling, I imagine, grows out of an impressive record of accomplishment by West Indians. What explains that success? For one thing, the British ended slavery in the Caribbean in 1833, well over a generation before America did ... They told my ancestors that they were now British citizens with all the rights of any subject of the Crown. That was an exaggeration: still, the British did establish good schools and made attendance mandatory. They filled the lower ranks of the civil service with blacks. Consequently, West Indians had an opportunity to develop attitudes of independence, self-responsibility and self-worth." And so the most prominent black man in American life today is the son of British subjects, raised outside the festering grievance culture of the Jesse Jackofied African-American community.
But even in Jesseland things aren't so bad. Life expectancy for American blacks is 69.6 years; for Ugandans it's 45 years, and falling. If the Ugandan comparison's a little too easy, consider this: For all their problems, the approximately 30 million American blacks have a greater combined wealth than the 30 million Canadians. Blacks don't need reparations to prosper, just the civic freedom and economic integrity of democratic society. If, on the other hand, they take seriously Castro, Mugabe and the other Durban pin-up boys, you can pretty much guarantee which way their income, life expectancy and other social indicators will be heading.
That's why Colin Powell's analysis is right in a broader sense, too. The institutions the British brought with them -- most importantly, the rule of law and the law of contract -- more than compensated for any of the "evils" of colonialism. In fact, the only thing the West has to apologize for is that it was too indulgent of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and post-colonial Africa's other founding frauds, and simply stood by as they beggared the continent with their uniquely virulent strain of Afro-Marxism. Those Commonwealth countries which have prospered are those that have deviated least from their Britannic inheritance. There's the real lesson for Africa, if only the guilt-ridden wimps of the Western delegations had the guts to point it out.
-- libs are idiots (email@example.com), September 06, 2001
Link or attribution?
-- Lars (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 06, 2001.
OK, Mark Steyn, National Post. Missed it.
-- Lars (email@example.com), September 06, 2001.
-- (Sargeant Preston@Yukon.futon), September 06, 2001.
"Twenty-five per cent of the cost of the Durban conference is being borne by the Americans alone. Along with Britain and Europe, they're also expected to pick up the tab for slavery, even though they were last to get into the game and first to get out."
The above line (in bold) refers to America, correct? But the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves wasn't until 1863. Is this guy stating there was legal slavery in Europe after 1863? Then he states that Britain halted slavery throughout their empire in 1833. And since when is Britain not part of Europe? Was my public school education THAT bad?
Another peach: "The institutions the British brought with them -- most importantly, the rule of law and the law of contract -- more than compensated for any of the "evils" of colonialism."
Surely he jests. "Evils" delivered in quotation marks leads me to believe the author wears unusually thick rose-colored glasses. I realize much of what is described as having taken place at this conference is enough to raise the bile in even my dullard dog Frankie. But for the author to trumpet colonialism as a good thing for those who were dominated and their cultures, raises just as much bile in me. Yechhh!
-- Rich (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 06, 2001.
Rich: I've followed the conference fairly carefully, and I've got to believe this is satire.
-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), September 06, 2001.
Maybe "colonialism" was an evil, but that's besides the points. If a bunch of African and Caribbean two-bit dictators are going to start arguing about how much the American taxpayers owe their sorry butts, they can go to hell.
-- libs are idiots (email@example.com), September 06, 2001.
''he who is without sin,cast the 1st stone'' slavery goes wayyyyyyyyy back. i,m still waiting for the $$$$$ for the missionaries-eaten by the cannibal's.***wink***
-- al-d. (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 06, 2001.
Anita, Mark Steyn is one of the wittiest writers around and his sharp tongue rarely misses a deserving target. There is no satire here, just his rapier wit cutting away to the chase and ‘telling it like it is’! Naturally, his fan base will be limited to those who demand that truth and facts rule over politically correct mumbo-jumbo. Here’s another example of Mark’s willingness to stare reality in the face while others stick their head in the sand:
'A Funeral To Die For" declared the front page of the New York Post, as Aaliyah departed this mortal coil in a traffic-snarling horse- drawn cortege with silver casket and ceremonial release of 22 doves, one for each year of her brief life. Like almost everybody else, I'd never heard of the bestselling r'n'b'n'movie star until her Cessna crashed just after takeoff a week ago. But that's okay. Nobody's that popular any more: Popular culture is more accurately characterized these days as a lot of mutually hostile unpopular cultures.
So let us take Rochelle Riley, writing in Saturday's National Post, at her word, and agree that "Aaliyah was Mercury rising. She was Saturn with brilliant rings of movies, songs and laughter getting brighter and hotter."
"But she was more," adds Miss Riley, hastily, just in case you're getting blasé. "Unlike others on the verge of greatness, Aaliyah's success had already mounted the horizon and was coming at her like a sunrise in a hurry ... For her, the what-might-have-beens weren't untouchable."
The trouble was, unlike others on the verge on the Street of Dreams, Aaliyah's gold-plated Cadillac had already mounted the sidewalk and was coming at her like a Rochelle Riley sentence careering toward a multi-metaphor pile-up. Dying young can be a good career move, but not too young. Though her Web site has declared her "the Princess Diana of hip-hop," Aaliyah is a household name for the briefest of moments.
The family evidently took their cue for the funeral arrangements from the Princess Di reference, a comparison Rod Dreher, the New York Post's splendid columnist, found preposterous. This in turn provoked the Reverend Al Sharpton, New York's pre-eminent bloviating charlatan, to accuse Dreher of "racial profiling." "We will bring down anybody who tells us how to mourn our own," he told attenders of an Aaliyah mourn-in at his Harlem HQ. "What do you mean horse carriages shouldn't be used, doves shouldn't fly? What you really mean is you should have a nice little Negro funeral." Warming to his theme, he rejected suggestions that Aaliyah was no Princess of Wails. "To say that she was less than someone else is abysmal, insulting and racist," he declared. "She wasn't born into royalty, she earned royalty."
I hate to intrude in this squabble, but I have to agree with Rev Al. Aaliyah is the Princess Di of hip-hop at least in this respect: She's dead because she was in the company of jerks. I'm aware Mohammed Fayed believes the Princess was killed by an elaborate conspiracy led by the Duke of Edinburgh and MI5, but the weight of the evidence supports the alternative theory that she died because she fell in with Fayed's flashy, trashy son and entrusted herself to his boozed- up chauffeur. A Buckingham Palace driver would not have been drunk, would not have tried to outrun the paparazzi, would not have been speeding through a tunnel. The cultural difference is exemplified by the only one of the four people in the car to survive: her dutiful, Welsh, Palace-provided bodyguard, who did the dull, sensible, British thing and wore his seatbelt.
Aaliyah, in the Bahamas to make a video, seems to have been keeping pretty much the same company. The pilot pleaded no contest two weeks earlier to crack cocaine possession and dealing in stolen property; he does not seem to have been licensed to fly the Cessna; in the last two years, the charter company has been cited four times for safety violations; and the plane took off way overloaded. A Bahamian baggage handler warned the pilot they were putting too much on board, but Aaliyah's entourage told 'em to quit being so picky, they needed to get back to Miami. Then her 300-lb bodyguard and another man of similar weight boarded the Cessna and finding themselves unable to squeeze up the narrow aisle lowered themselves into the two rear seats by the door. With skinny Aaliyah up the front and the two heavy dudes and all the bags at the rear, the Cessna wobbled up into the air and came down almost immediately. Unlike the deaths of Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, Lynyrd Skynyrd or John Denver, this is one pop-star rendezvous with destiny you can't put down to mechanical malfunction or poor weather conditions. Instead, as London's Daily Mirror headlined it, "Fat Guard Caused Air Crash." He was Aaliyah's bodyguard, but in the end the only thing she needed guarding from was his body.
Whether Aaliyah herself would have chosen to take off with a crack- convicted pilot on an overloaded plane he wasn't supposed to be flying we will never know, but it's doubtful anyone asked her opinion. One of the sadder aspects of becoming a "celebrity" -- in the Aaliyah sense -- is the certain knowledge that you'll be spending your life surrounded by awful, third-rate people -- the entourage that's supposed to keep the world from getting at you and instead keeps you from getting at the world. I was once at a songwriters' gala at Radio City Music Hall and, milling on the sidewalk afterwards, was asked if I'd mind helping Whitney Houston over to the big dinner at the Hilton just across the street. Whitney had become separated from her entourage and a mutual pal evidently thought that, in my lumpy ill-fitting airline-crushed tux, I was the nearest thing to a professional heavy. So I accompanied Whitney across Sixth Avenue. It was a lovely, balmy evening, any New Yorkers who recognized her were too cool to care. The only person who seemed to be having a bad time was Whitney. Ah, you say, that's because she was with you. Well, it's true that not being in the hands of a professional accompanist seemed to add to her discomfort, but what was noticeable was that the entire manoeuver of crossing the road seemed to stress her out. I believe they had streets in the neighbourhood where she grew up, but, though it wasn't that long ago, it was a lost world to her.
As it happens, she was much safer crossing Sixth Avenue with me than with the kind of hired help the music biz provides. This summer, in the Hamptons, the talk has been of Lizzie Grubman, an entertainment publicist and daughter of Allen Grubman, attorney for among others Bruce Springsteen, who's made a very nice living singing songs professing solidarity with blue-collar people, an affinity that, alas, hasn't rubbed off on his lawyer's daughter. In July, Miss Grubman was at the amusingly named Conscience Point Inn, when the club's bouncer asked her if she'd mind moving her daddy's Mercedes SUV from the fire lane. Miss Grubman replied, "Fuck you, white trash!" and reversed the Merc at speed into the bouncer and some 15 other people. Sadly, Lizzie's eye for socio-economic classification isn't as keen as she fancies, since some of those injured were not white trash but, according to New York magazine, "A-listers". Poor Lizzie, a publicist whose publicity is now out of control.
This is what you get when you decide you can no longer cross the street without an entourage. Instead of the normal exchanges of daily life -- with the waitress and the greengrocer and the guy at the newsstand -- the modern celebrity gets to hang out with paralytic chauffeurs, bonehead pilots, lardbutt bodyguards, homicidal publicists -- in a heady world where none of the rules apply -- not the one about wearing seatbelts, or about observing load limits, or about not reversing over the citizenry. Rules are for "them," not "us." The hangers-on get the benefits of proximity to fame: I once called on the great Latin heartthrob Julio Iglesias in his hotel and, while I was waiting, asked the guy from the entourage how the tour was going. "Terrific," he said. "Julio's getting on a bit so we get most of the girls." But what does the star get? Being walled up with losers all day long doesn't even qualify as a Faustian bargain.
But sometimes sadly even the greatest star discovers that some rules apply universally -- when you're in a tunnel hurtling towards the concrete, when you lift off the runway and that little lurch gives you just a second to realize something's not right. Let's not begrudge Aaliyah her doves. They soared so beautifully, so easily. Freighted with the excess baggage of celebrity, her little Cessna was unable to do the same.
-- So (email@example.com), September 06, 2001.
Mark Steyn tells it like it is? No. Perhaps he tells it as he (and you) thinks it is. Otherwise known as an opinion piece. Truth and facts, Soc? Is Britain considered part of Europe by most breathing humans? Was America last in and first out of the unspeakable practice of slavery in the Western Hemisphere? (I got the impression the author stated this with the hope of claiming some semblance of moral high ground) "The rule of law and the law of contract" served as just compensation for the evils of colonialism? OMG.
I read the piece and chuckled a time or three. I nodded in basic agreement with the author here and there (I.E. on reparations). And also cringed repeatedly at his use of so-called 'rapier wit'. Cutting people down repeatedly with a 'sharp tongue' is, IMO, childish, insensitive, destructive, and a terrible waste of creativity and intelligence.
I understand the sophomoric desire to strike out at others, having succumbed to the impulse more times than I care to think about when I was a little boy. I am not inclined to support acting on such a desire, and certainly do not applaud those who do so as a matter of common practice.
-- Rich (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 06, 2001.
I must confess to never having had the pleasure of assimilating the words of Mr. Steyn. While approving in principle to his ‘take’ on things, I suspect his caustic manner turns off the middle-of-the-road reader who is looking for something a little more mainstream. But then, it is often the smartass that gets the message across when others fail to communicate. Not being an overly sensitive person myself, I find this stuff to be great material.
Good information that makes me laugh……love it!
Just My Opinion.
-- Just (email@example.com), September 06, 2001.
UN webpage about this conference
-- David L (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 06, 2001.
Clearly, someone is whanging away at your knees, which are jerking in spasmodic enthusiasm.
First, Steyn did NOT say America was "last in and first out" in Western Hemisphere slavery. He is talking about the practice of slavery in history. And he is quite correct that in comparison with where it is most commonly practiced (much of Africa), it was going on long before America adopted it, and it continues today.
Second, I suppose there are many ways to define "standard of living", but Steyn is quite correct that in those ex-colonies, this standard has been in decline since the end of colonialism by any normal definition -- public health, life expectancy, income, and so on. You may consider colonialism evil by definition and therefore worse than anything else, but Steyn isn't being sophomoric when he points out that to those a bit freer of the rigid political-correctness you seem addicted to, everyone but the dictators (pre-coup, anyways) was better off as a colonist throughout Africa.
If you're just complaining that Steyn is less tactful than you'd prefer, then say so. He's certainly far more tactful than those he criticizes, whom you seem to hold to far more, uh, *flexible* standards.
-- Flint (email@example.com), September 06, 2001.
Let's try a thought-experiment. Imagine that today a new continent is discovered. This continent is populated by exotic flora and fauna and numerous tribes of blue humans that lived intimately close to nature, savagery and all.
These tribes of blue humans routinely fought to death among themselves. They routinely plundered, enslaved, tortured, raped and/or ate each other. These tribes of blue humans had no written language, no philosophy, no technology (not even the wheel), no medicine except herbal "cures" and their average lifespan was 34.7 years. They had no classic music, no literature, or art beyond folk level; ie, they had no civilization.
Yet they were humans. They had the native intelligence and ability to live better. They just weren't culturally acclimated to do so.
How should the enlightened, progressive, civilized black, white, brown and yellow humans treat these "noble savages"? Should we back away and let them continue to live as always or should we bring them into modernity and its corruptions? (ie, a contemporary colonialism). Let's not complicate the thought-experiment by imaginining that this lost continent was rich with natural resources.
-- Lars (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 06, 2001.
The 'last in first out' the author wrote about was in comparison with Britain and Europe, as I read it. Of course he mentions the current ongoing slavery in Africa and the conference attendees notable avoidance of acknowledging this horror. As I stated above, I did not and do not disagree with the author on some of his points.
Do I wish to pin the label 'tactless' on Steyn based on this piece? Sure. Isn't it obvious from my prior post? Guess it wasn't to you, Flint. And yes, the author places his sophomoric sense of humor clearly on display, IMO. Conceit coupled with immaturity spills forth from the page.
When I read the word 'colonialism' British-style, I first think of India. I think of their cultural achievements prior to British rule and after. There's no comparison. The country has been split apart thanks in no small way to the British practice of playing Moslems against Hindus. Get the subjects fighting in factions against each other. Divide and conquer. I'm sorry I don't have time to elaborate further on this tonight.
Finally, your statement ...rigid political-correctness you seem addicted to is completely preposterous! You had me ROTFLMAO on that one, buddy. Perhaps my failure to comment on the goings-on at the conference led you to guess I am in agreement with selective racism and bigotry. You guessed wrong, Flint. I haven't followed the conference at all. And I was not about to take Steyn's word on the proceedings as gold, nor was I going to research it. It was simply easier for me to comment on what was in front of me, what moved me - namely the author's spew - in the time I had allotted for posting.
Never do I engage you in debate Flint. My day is too short and my mind too slow, as this post reveals quite plainly.
-- Rich (email@example.com), September 06, 2001.
When reflecting on India, I see a nation like most of the others at the so-called ‘Conference on Racism’, that don’t practice what they preach. You want to talk about racism? OK, let’s examine the hideous Caste system of this lovely country. Racial profiling to the max.
Many of the other countries that are screaming for money from the Brits and the U.S. are far worse. This collection of extortionist nations gathered in Durban has among them the finest racial scam artists of all time and they still couldn’t manage to put together ONE productive day on their agenda.
Big time joke!
-- So (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 07, 2001.
The point is that this conference is about money and power for the few and powerful, not racism and social injustices. The leaders of these thrid world countries don't give a whit about anything but lining their own pockets off the coffers of the first world's governments. If you think the poor in the 3rd world would ever see a penny of the so-called "reparations" you are blind fool. Besides the fact that nothing is due those countries anyway.
-- libs are idiots (email@example.com), September 07, 2001.
The Hindu caste system was and is an abomination. Not based on race, Soc. It is not 'racial profiling to the max', but instead a twisted interpretation of karma and reincarnation in which social status is fixed, based solely on the class of the family into which one is born. For example, One cannot become a Brahmin unless one is born a Brahmin. One born into the family of an untouchable remains an untouchable until death.
Fortunately, thanks in large measure to Mahatma Gandhi during the first half of the 20th Century, the Hindu caste system no longer has a complete stranglehold on Hindu society. As with the institution of slavery and then the separate but equal charade which combined destroyed countless lives and polluted the U.S. for two centuries, it takes many generations for a culture to change deeply ingrained beliefs and traditions.
We ARE making progress. This is something which so many who scream the loudest about racism/bigotry today fail to see and understand. We are an impulsive species, and when one ends up on the short side of racism and bigotry, as many that I've known over the years have been from time to time (myself included), I do my best to listen, empathize and drive hate for those who use this weapon from my heart.
-- Rich (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 07, 2001.
Caste is defined as a rigid social system in which a social hierarchy is maintained generation after generation and allows little mobility out of the position to which a person is born (Encarta Encyclopedia). The word caste was first used by 16th century Portuguese traders; it is taken from the Portuguese word casta. Varna, the word for caste, means color and referring to the old racial differences between conquerors and conquered. The concept of the current caste system was forged from the ideals of racial supremecy issues.
-- Fact (email@example.com), September 07, 2001.
Eh? FF, if you are talking about "caste" as in India, it is not racial, as Rich points out. Indeed much of the bloodiest oppression in today's world has nothing to do with race. In Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Israel/Palestine the combatants are the same "race". Altho it is easy to see the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi, that difference is not racial. The genocide in Cambodia was not racial.
Political, religio-cultural, ethnic and economic issues seem to be more than enough reason to justify slaughter and oppression.
-- Lars (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 07, 2001.
Barry: Do you find this "tellin g it like it is?"
Even *I* realize sensationalism, exaggeration, and embellishment when I see it.
-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), September 10, 2001.