|Montreal, September 15, 2001 / No 88|
by Ralph Maddocks
Some weeks ago, I wrote of an impending UN meeting in South Africa which was scheduled to discuss racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (see POLITICALLY CORRECT BLACKMAIL, le QL,
Doubtless the cost per attendee at these regional conferences was, with
the exception of Geneva, considerably more than the GDP per capita of most
of the countries hosting those events; Warsaw ($3,230 US), Bangkok ($3,020),
Addis Abada ($103) and Santiago de Chile ($4,860). The conference host
country, South Africa itself, has a per capita GDP of $3,130 and provided
four fifths of the estimated $25 million cost. Monies that might have been
better applied to improving the lives of the millions of untreated AIDS
patients residing there. However, the ego of South Africa’s President Mbeki
must be pandered to, and the lobby groups given, in the words of one commentator,
The conference, held in the beautiful city of Durban, under the auspices of the doubtless well-intentioned Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, was attended by a few thousands of posturing politicians, parasitical state employees and NGO representatives. Many of the latter being doubtless supported by the charitable donations of the unwary. Noisy and replete with mis-statements of fact, the conference was abandoned in mid-course by the delegations of both the USA and Israel. Some 168 nations sent mainly low-level representatives, and Canada was represented not by our Minister for External Affairs but by that determined opponent of mythical cross burning, the Minister of Multiculturalism, Hedy Fry.
Two main themes seem to have dominated the conference. Firstly, trying to get resolutions passed equating Zionism with racism and condemning Israel as a racist and Apartheid State. Secondly, to extract money from western states as compensation for two to five hundred year old acts of slavery.
Like of most of these gatherings, held allegedly for the benefit of mankind, numerous motions were passed; the majority of which were platitudinous and meaningless, having no legal standing whatsoever. Even so, it did provide an excuse for the assembled parasites and freeloaders to fulminate against the White race in general, and the Jewish people in particular. In case there is any doubt, only white people appear to qualify as racists.
The anti-Israeli rhetoric was quite nauseating, the cartoon – equating the Star of David with the swastika – handed out to conference delegates by the Arab Lawyers' Union ought to have led to that group’s instant banishment. All attempts to have this group's UN accreditation revoked though were refused; a clear sign of the underlying motivations of many of the groups present.
Perhaps much of this rhetoric was not too surprising, if one considers Israel’s close and mutually beneficial relationship with the former government of South Africa. Parenthetically though, one might reflect on how those paranoid anti-Semites – who asserted without proof that the ANC is somehow
There was though one outstanding irony – along with a scent of moral bankruptcy – the address by Fidel Castro to an adoring, ostensibly pro-human rights crowd. They roared at his typical anti-Western rant, while studiously ignoring his repression of domestic dissent in Cuba.
The call for
It should be remembered too that the original impulse to condemn xenophobia and slavery came from the western nations, being specifically a product of English-speaking civilization, and of white and black people in English-speaking countries. Slavery and slave codes were an integral part of Continental Civil Law, which originated in the Roman Empire, an empire built largely on slavery. Slavery was maintained continuously in the Mediterranean world, both on the Christian north shore and the Islamic southern shore, from classical times, through the Dark and Middle Ages and the Renaissance into modern times.
The Spanish and Portuguese adventurers who sailed down the coast of Africa in the early 15th Century bought slaves from existing slave dealers in existing slave markets, and brought them to existing slave markets in Lisbon where they were sold. They extended the slave-plantation system from southern Iberia, where it had continued since the days of the Roman latifundia, to the Canaries and Madeira, and then eventually to Brazil and the Caribbean.
The English-speaking civilization, which was establishing itself in the New World, did so with free labour and indentured labour – workers under contract to pay off the cost of their passages. When ships from the Caribbean called on Virginia or Maryland, they sold small numbers of African slaves into the indentured-labour markets. Common Law though had no provision for slavery, and the Africans were treated at first as indentured servants, with many being set free after some time.
When the planters from places like Barbados began to run short of the land needed to expand their plantations, they established the colony of South Carolina on the American mainland. They brought with them their slaves and slave codes. They obtained a separate charter from the Crown because Virginia law did not permit them enough control over their slaves. Slowly, Virginia and Maryland planters began adopting more and more of these Iberian slave codes from South Carolina, making the conditions of slavery even more disagreeable.
However, slavery and slave law was a foreign import at odds with Common Law. So, from the revolutionary factions of the English Civil War there began to evolve criticism of the whole concept. Firstly the Quakers in the 17th Century, followed by the Congregationalists and Presbyterians, the Methodists in the 18th Century, and the Unitarians in the 19th, all developed theologies of equality and liberation. Those religions were centred in those parts of Britain and America, which were also the places of origin of the Industrial Revolution – the North of England, the Lowlands of Scotland, New England, and Pennsylvania.
Those same Non-Conformist industrialists that financed the Industrial Revolution also financed the British Liberal and American Republican Parties. Their wealth, in turn, was derived from the successful Agricultural Revolution that swept England in the 18th Century. The application of knowledge from the emerging Scientific – Technological Revolution greatly increased agricultural profits. The slave-trading profits in England and America were a rather insignificant percentage part of the investment capital that fueled the Industrial Revolution, being quite a small percentage of the whole. In any event, the great majority of all slaves in the Atlantic trade went to Brazil and the Spanish part of the Caribbean.
Gradually, the abolitionists went to court, applying Common Law principles, and eliminating slavery first in England and then by legislative action in the Northern US states. The end of slave importation in 1808 though caused a demographic crisis in the Deep South. The South Carolinians used Lincoln’s election to push other Southerners into secession hoping perhaps to restart the slave trade. Indeed, if the Industrial Revolution and the wealth of the West were based on slavery, then Spain and Portugal would have been the leaders of the Industrial Revolution. Instead, it was the freethinking minds of the British and Americans that invented the Industrial Revolution and then used their wealth and power to abolish slavery worldwide. Those same peoples are unique not in practicing slavery, but in leading the way to abolishing it.
It is not that these nations were never guilty of any of these practices, but it was indubitably there where they were first condemned. That one's own group, religion, ethnicity, etc., was superior to everyone else's was a concept taken for granted throughout the world until some of these ideas evolved exclusively in the West. That countries such as Syria or Zimbabwe – which practise xenophobic intolerance actively – should have the effrontery to condemn the West, which not only stopped such practices but provided the rationale for the Third World's view that these things are wrong, is grossly hypocritical. Many will recall that the soldiers sent to fight for Saudi Arabia in the Gulf War were admonished not to hang Christmas decorations outside their quarters in order not to offend their hosts. This exemplifies both the sensitivity of Westerners and the intolerance of the people they were sent to assist.
The conference was notable too for the matters that were not discussed. A British reporter, interviewing one of the UK delegates sent there at taxpayer’s expense to tell the world how nasty the British taxpayers are, was told that the conference had been a success but that there was still much to do, so great was the religious intolerance and discrimination. One could be forgiven for thinking that the UK delegate would then refer to the Taliban for their persecution of non-Muslims. Or perhaps to Pakistan for imposing death sentences on Christians or to Nigeria for flogging young girls who have been raped or even make mention of Algerian rebels slitting the throats of young girls. Not a chance, he went on about British racism, how Britain was anti-Muslim, how Western Europe was intolerant, how America was nasty and discriminating, etc.
Then it dawned on me. When he spoke of
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