WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his merry minions of global statecraft have done it again! Last month, they offered to sacrifice the Second Amendment on the altar of "International Cooperation" at their "United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects." Having failed in their efforts to relieve Americans of their right to self-defense, the nice folks at the big blue building on the East River in New York are now poised to strip us of our self-respect.
Kofi and his cronies are calling for a "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" (Do U.S. taxes finance the U.N. bureaucrats who dream up these titles?). The organizers want Secretary of State Colin Powell to represent us at what promises to be a full-scale, America-bashing, Israel-baiting, global gab-fest. The Bush administration has threatened to boycott the conference, which is scheduled for Aug. 31 in Durban, South Africa. They should, no pun intended, stick to their guns.
The problem with this conference -- like so much the U.N. does today -- is that it is just one more forum for attacking the United States and our only democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel. Conferees gathered in Geneva have been trying to draft a Durban agenda, but have been "unable to resolve two contentious issues" in the conference's 30 page declaration: a statement equating "Zionism with racism" and the issue of "reparations for slavery and colonization."
Unwilling to let the White House establish U.S. foreign policy, Congress has gotten into the act. On July 31, a hearing in the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights began with praise for President Bush's boycott threat -- and then denigrated into a racial fracas. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., a Holocaust survivor, stated that "if the final UN document ... fails to remove references to Zionists as racists," the United States should send either a "low level delegation or no delegation whatsoever."
Apparently forgetting that it took us 16 years to convince the U.N. to reverse its shameful 1975 Resolution 3379 condemning Zionism as racist and a "threat to world peace and security," Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., who has spoken warmly of using U.S. tax dollars to pay reparations to descendents of slavery in the United States, retorted that "the two issues were a smokescreen for the president's desire to avoid the subject of race."
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., stated that, "136 years after the abolishment of slavery, African-Americans still suffer the effects. ... Our government should apologize and then look at various strategies for compensation." Lee and other members of the Black Caucus have asked to be included in the conference's official U.S. delegation.
Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League, told the civil rights group, before President Bush addressed their annual gathering on Aug. 1, that the administration "should not dodge debate over whether the United States owes compensation to blacks because of slavery." He also said that the United States must be "present and accounted for in Durban."
U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson has been telling Arab countries to cool it and not let the conference look like the anti-Israel, anti-U.S. conclave it really is. You may remember Mary. Her U.N. commission recently booted the United States and left those staunch defenders of human rights Libya, Cuba, Communist China and Vietnam in good standing. Arab delegates in Geneva have responded to her gentle prodding by insisting that any U.N. document on racism coming out of Durban must criticize Israel's treatment of Palestinians, even if language equating Zionism with racism is dropped.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to salvage his conference, Kofi "Can't We All Just Get Along?" Annan wants world leaders to "find common ground on the divisive issues of Zionism and slavery reparations." It's an ironic appeal coming from a man whose home country, Ghana, is known as the "cradle of slavery" and, today, boasts about its coastal "slave castles" as major tourist attractions.
Unfortunately, in their zeal to punish the United States and Israel, the U.N. Durban Conference organizers are missing a great opportunity to deal with the serious problem of slavery -- not two centuries ago, but today. The U.S. State Department's February 2001 Annual Report on Human Rights cites the ongoing practice of Trokosi in Ghana, wherein nearly 12,000 young girls are enslaved. In Sudan, Islamic warlords routinely buy and sell Christians while the government turns a blind eye. And elsewhere in Africa, racial, religious, and tribal bondage and servitude -- sometimes for life -- are commonplace.
But these aren't the matters that will get center-stage at the end of the month. Instead, the international media will gather for a frontal assault on the United States -- the freest, most diverse and prosperous place on the planet -- and our tiny democratic ally, Israel.
One can just imagine the spectacle when all of the opposing forces collide in Durban. It will be almost worth the price of admission if it weren't so serious. President Bush can spare our country a lot of embarrassment on this one by keeping our people home.