Bill Murchison
All you really need to know about the United Nations "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance" -- now missing the U.S. and Israeli delegations, which decamped on Monday -- you can learn by directing your gaze away from the conference itself. Look up the road, 700 miles or so, from the conference site, in Durban, South Africa (named for a distinguished 19th century British governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban). There lies Zimbabwe, the former Southern Rhodesia. You might not know from exposure to the U.S. media, which have been scandalously inattentive to the story, that terrible events are afoot in Zimbabwe. The regime of President Robert Mugabe is endeavoring to expel from the country -- first taking care to seize their lands without compensation -- the thousands of white farmers whose know-how and energy are the backbone of the country's economy. If the farmers were black, such tactics, such an objective, would be called "genocide," but, well, you know how it goes these days ... The regime sends mobs of young squatters to seize the farms. No use calling the police, who invariably take the squatters' side. Some weeks ago, about 20 farmers who ran to the aid of elderly neighbors under mob attack were hauled off to jail by the police. Mugabe has silenced judges disinclined to put up with such tyranny and has all but silenced Zimbabwe's independent newspapers. Yet, at the World Conference Against Blah, Blah, how often does one hear of Robert Mugabe? Oh, about as often as one hears of the Peloponnesian War or the Defenestration of Prague -- not a syllable of indignation; not the faintest tintinnabulation of dismay. Mugabe, who stayed home due to "security" concerns, is Third World. He gets a pass. Who doesn't get one? Israel doesn't. Yasser Arafat denounces Israel as a racist colonial power. The conference gets ready to OK a statement eviscerating the Israelis. Their stomachs too weak for bilge; U.S. and Israeli delegates pull out. And then there's slavery, which exists today chiefly in the Sudan, but don't let that confuse you, because at the World Blah, Blah, the Sudanese, like Mugabe, get a pass for being Third World. In fact, it turns out that the First World owes Africa a lot of bucks in "reparations" for importing slaves (whose descendants for some reason haven't elected to return to the Old Country), even though it was the British, not the Africans, who suppressed the slave trade, and even though the president of Senegal wonders aloud at Durban whether he might be asked to pay reparations, too, given that his ancestors helped round up and sell those slaves in the first place. Jesse Jackson, the noted adulterer, and the Congressional Black Caucus are also there, lobbying for "understanding" and First World concessions -- making the whole thing even more gruesome. Race, seemingly the modern world's leading preoccupation, is its most intractable, due to the dishonesty that infects virtually every attempt to discuss the topic. Discussions about race are rarely about race. They turn out, as at Durban, mostly to concern power -- who's got it, who wants it. "Race" is mainly a club for pummeling the Israelis, wielded by people who want what the Israelis have got. "Race," as with "reparations," is a pretext for rattling the tin cup -- how about some dough, Bro? You won't get any by not trying, that's for sure! The real "victims of racism" are those who, with indulgent smiles on their faces, must sit and listen to all this tommyrot, with never a thought for Robert Mugabe: the highway robbery he licenses, the human-rights crimes the perpetrates, the smile on his own face as he contemplates -- how could he not? -- the joy of being a Third World despot in the age of Yasser Arafat and Jesse Jackson.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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