The Geneva Show on (anti-)Racism

Once upon a time… on the birthday of Hitler (oh, the irony…)…

It was written like a crafty Hollywood script… Enter the Iranian president, under the applause of part of the room. The speech starts. Cue unplanned protesters wearing a clown’s attire and who threw a red nose on stage (probably all participants had been asked to take off their shoes to avoid any assault on the speakers…). A few shouts later, they are dragged away by the security team of the conference. And then, to the utmost suprise of the audience, Ahmadinejad starts ranting about the immigrants sent by Europe to create a racist State in the Middle East. Faced with this unforeseen speach from a usually so moderate world leader, some representatives, mostly from European countries, recovered fast from the suprise and improvised a courageous walkout to show their opposition. Following this, despite the short notice, all these countries manage to issue in a suprinsingly coordinated way strong press releases condeming this attack on Israel… The UN expresses dismay at the Iranian president’s outbreak. This is a perfect storyline, full of unexpected drama and…

oh come on! Who are we kidding? This whole joke was as predictable as an episode of Mission Impossible (did anybody ever really believe that they might not save the day?). Everybody wins from this theatrically staged farce in Geneva for the second conference against Racism, after the one organised in Durban in 2001.
It was obvious that the bearded leader of Iran would say something that could create outrage. But a walkout looks so much better on TV than not showing up at all. Like that, the Europeans can show their voters, sorry, citizens, their strong rejection of racism. Ahmadinejad also wins, by looking like a courageous martyr who has the balls to stand up to the Western-capitalist-zionist-freemason-aliens-from-outer-space conspiracy.

The Durban Conference in 2001, despite its good intentions, was hijacked by those wanting to single out Israel as a racist State. Very few countries actually reacted when at the time some “NGOs” distributed anti-semitic material. Only the USA and Israel left the conference back then. And even if the final declaration was mild in its language, most of the debates were focusing on Israel. As for the “Durban II” conference, the signs were not good. A document circulating some weeks before the start of the event, drafted by the Preparatory Commission, headed by Libya with an Iranian Vice-President, contained strong language against Israel and called for the “criticism of religions” to be included as Racism, basically preventing blasphemy. And what did this lead to? How did most countries respond to that? Some States actually decided to boycott the conference (USA, Israel, but also Italy, the Netherlands and Germany). But most apparently learned from the previous event… that they had to have better communication!

Which brings us back to today. The only lesson to draw from this is that it is an artful operation in political PR. All the participants might not agree on the content. But they can all meet up in the dressing room afterwards and congratulate each other on the success of the performance, and get ready for the next show…

… or go back to hone their skills at the permanent rehearsal stage for this type of mascarade that is the UN Human Rights Council… but let’s keep this for another time, shall we?

One response to “The Geneva Show on (anti-)Racism

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