Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Pack Just Yet for the Racism Conference

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Edith M. Lederer reported in the Associated Press: "The United States has decided not to participate in a U.N. conference on racism in April unless the final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion." Apparently the draft resolution, being crafted in Geneva, "singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism – the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state – to racism," causing the U.S. and Israel to walk out midway through the eight-day meeting.

Um . . . okay . . . mondo points to the United States for being such a good friend to Israel. But after stomping out into the hallway in a huff, the Israeli Representative – being a good friend in return – should have said to the American, "Dude, good looking out. I appreciate it. But seriously, you’ve gotta go back in there."

Given our nation’s history, we don’t get to walk out of a conference on racism. On this subject, we can’t opt out of a phone call, an email or even a water cooler conversation. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal couldn’t opt out of giving the Republican rebuttal after President Obama’s address last week to Congress; although I’m sure he wished he had. Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner couldn’t opt out of paying his taxes, at least not for long. Tom Daschle couldn’t opt out of being a registered lobbyist. Well, actually, he did and look what happened.

America doesn’t have a corner on racism, but historically we have had two separate but equal houses on the block. After electing our first Black President there is an over whelming urge to say mission accomplished, but even I haven’t drunk that much Kool Aid. We’ve taken one giant step toward the mountain top, but we still have a little climbing left to do, not just as a nation, but as a species.

The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance – called Durban II – is in real trouble of being boycotted by several nations. The fear is that the event will degenerate into a bash Israel fest. Apparently the Conference on Racism is mired in racism. All the more reason to stay in the room and work it out. Standing on the outside throwing rocks doesn’t work. Just ask the Palestinians.

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