Queen Elizabeth II went to New York last week—amid triple digit temperatures. Her visit was described everywhere as “low key.” One diplomat, Sir Brian Urquart, churlishly said: “I suppose the British monarchy was a bigger deal in 1957 [when she last addressed the UN] than it is now.” Sir Brian is a former top-ranking official at the UN, which was also a bigger deal then.
The Queen bypassed the UN when she visited New York City in 1976. Then, she came to help us celebrate our Bicentennial. She did not apologize at that time for the thousands of American soldiers who died in rotting prison hulks during the American War of Independence. Those British ships were tied up in Manhattan when the redcoat army occupied the city. Americans were happy to see her in 1976 and more than willing to let bygones be bygones.
In the seventies, the Queen was popular not just with happy natives here, but she was also toasted by the “Fab Four,” the Beatles, at home. British songsters John Lennon and Paul McCartney treated their sovereign to these cheeky lyrics: “Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl / But she doesn't have a lot to say / Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl / But she changes from day to day.”
One reason she changes from day to day is that Britain’s elected governments change from day to day. Her address to the UN General Assembly this week, therefore, was doubtless written for her by the new Conservative-Liberal coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron.
If that “Conservative-Liberal” bit sounds like a political pushme-pullyou, it is. The legendary pushme-pullyou was a hybrid llama-like animal that had its heads going in opposite directions. That would explain the Queen’s praising the UN for adapting to changing times. Like Her Majesty, the UN also changes from day to day.
She did not mention, of course, that part of the UN record that has not changed: Its 65-year history of ignoring and covering up mass murders around the world. The UN symbol shows the earth wreathed in olive branches. Nice. But the earth could be wreathed in flames for all the UN General Assembly might notice.
For example, those parts of the UN’s record Her Majesty neglected to mention include:
· UN complicity in silence about slave labor and death of millions in the Gulag Archipelago of the old USSR.
· UN never exploring the horrors of Chinese Communist famines and death for millions under the Great Leap Forward and the Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
· UN ignoring genocide in Rwanda.