A Global Disgrace

It was billed as a United Nations conference on racism, but few thoughtful people were fooled by the packaging. What’s going on in Geneva this week is nothing less than a forum for Israel’s enemies, who soil the noble efforts of legitimate anti-racists with their hated-filled screeds.

It goes without saying that the United States was right to boycott this celebration of bigotry, this parade of strutting dictators, misogynists, thieves and liars. It is comforting to know that so many European delegates walked out during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s racist tirade on Monday. It is disturbing to realize that the United Nations believes that the conference remains “on track,” as spokesman Ramu Damodaran said on Tuesday.

On track? Clearly, then, the worst suspicions of right-thinking people are confirmed. This alleged conference on racism was designed to be, as the U.S. argued all along, nothing more than a rhetorical pogrom. That is the only conclusion one can draw from assurances that the proceedings are “on track.”

Some European delegates have remained in Geneva in an attempt to prevent the Iranians and other haters from dictating the convention’s outcome, as Britain’s Peter Gooderham said. Ambassador Gooderham may have the best of intentions, but he is fooling himself. The convention’s outcome already is tainted. Better to pack up and leave Geneva than to be associated with the tirades of religious fanatics and tin-pot dictators who presume to lecture the West and Israel about toleration and freedom.

In some ways, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech was an important moment in international relations. It reminded us that nothing really has changed since the United Nations last attempted to discuss racism, during a conference in South Africa in 2001. That, too, became little more than a forum to beat up on Israel. Diplomats tried for years to make sure that nothing similar happened this time around. But Mr. Ahmadinejad did us the favor of showing us that the enemies of Israel and the West simply cannot help themselves. They live to hate, and no amount of diplomatic double-speak can hide that simple, brutal fact.

Tragically, the nations of the world will miss another opportunity to discuss the ongoing curse of racism—a curse that afflicts all corners of the globe, not just the United States and the West. Of course, it may be that any international conference on racism is destined to become a harangue against America and its allies, including Israel. If so, future administrations should follow the example of the Obama administration and simply stay away.

But there is at least a glimmer of hope on the horizon. In the aftermath of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s hate screed, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said she had hoped to hear from the Iranian president how his country was dealing with “racial discrimination and intolerance in his country.” It’s hard to believe that she really thought she would hear such a speech. But the fact that a U.N. official acknowledged the presence of racism in Iran suggests that the convention’s organizers are perhaps not nearly as foolish and naïve as we might think.

Commissioner Pillay should speak up more often.