Race Summit In Durban

The United Nations will open its "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (let's call it WCAR) on August 31st in Durban, South Africa. Already there are threats to pull out by the U.S. unless agenda proposals that seek to condemn Israel by equating Zionism with racism are removed. The U.S., Britain, and other former colonial powers, object to the "Declaration of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as a Crime Against Humanity" document prepared by WCAR's African delegation that seeks reparations for slavery. The WCAR will amount to nothing more than demagoguery, accusations and begging. President Bush shouldn't send U.S. representatives. Let's look at it.

According to Dr. Arnold Beichman, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, while representatives of Arab nations demand that Zionism be equated to racism, they seek to bar from the conference agenda any references to anti-Semitism as examples of intolerance. For the conference to condemn anti-Semitism means condemning Arab media and school textbooks that routinely publish and teach the kind of anti-Semitic libel Dr. Beichman says "would make Josef Goebbels proud."

The African delegation's "Declaration of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as a Crime Against Humanity" and demands for reparations suggest more demagoguery. One might get the impression that black slave trade was only transatlantic, but not so. It turns out that Arab countries pioneered in African slave trade before there was a United States. In fact Arabs continue to trade in black slaves today in the Sudan and Mauritania. The American Anti-Slavery Group documents this modern day slavery at their web site (www.iabolish.com). The African delegation, while demanding reparations from European nations and the United States, will also be demanding apologies as well. One wonders whether they will also demand apologies from the African countries, who along with the Arabs, sold slaves to western slave traders, not to mention apologies from the Sudan and Mauritania.

Respect for human rights is something that should be cherished and nowhere on earth are they fully respected but some countries and cultures have a far better record than others. The western world and its culture has a far superior record of human rights protections than anywhere else. 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, and 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? A moment's reflection to any of these questions would yield an answer: United States or a European country. That's not to say that the United States and European countries are Utopias, but by observing who's trying to flee to where suggests they are superior alternatives to other places.

History is one of those immutable facts of life; there is absolutely nothing any of us can do to change it. We can change the future. If the "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" is going to yield any fruits at all it must focus upon and try to change human rights violations in the non-Western World. The non-Western world must adopt some of the culturally-superior characteristics of Europe and United States. In the process not only will greater human rights protections be produced but greater wealth as well. Liberty is a necessary ingredient for wealth.

Walter E. Williams
August 13, 2001
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