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Enter Stage Gabbing

Sending a signal

By Steven Martinovich

(August 6, 2001) - For those nations that wish to protest racism, the best thing they can do is to boycott a $21 million conference that runs August 31 to September 7 in Durban, South Africa. The purpose of this United Nations meeting is ostensibly to form a plan of action to combat racism across the planet. In reality, this meeting promises to unleash a torrent of anti-Western and anti-Semitic sentiment.

Earlier this year, the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was essentially hijacked by Asian - which includes Middle Eastern nations, African, Latin American and Caribbean groups which rejected a draft U.N. plan of action to combat racism in favour of their agenda. That agenda is to press rich western nations for reparations for slavery and colonialism and to revive the notion that Zionism is racism. For good measure, the groups also want to equate globalization with racism.

As an example of the one-sidedness of their proposals, the African group is demanding the West pay massive compensation for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, during which 14 million black Africans were transported to the Americas in the 16th to 19th centuries. Often captured, it must be noted, with the assistance of other black Africans, a reality conveniently ignored by the newly sanctimonious leaders of Sudan and Mauritania where slavery of Christians and animists is still practiced. Their call for compensation also conveniently ignores the millions of black Africans that were captured and sold into slavery to Islamic nations for hundreds of years, reportedly into the early part of the last century, well past the date slavery officially ended in the United States.

Naturally, talk of reparations and anti-Israel policies have some nations concerned, mostly notably the United States. The Bush Administration, in keeping with its welcome policy of not agreeing for the sake of agreeing, is opposed to any discussions of reparations or Zionism. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer stated July 27 that the U.S. "is fully engaged and ready to participate" in the conference, but only if participants are willing to discuss what is presumably its goal: finding ways of combating racism. While the Americans will send delegates, they will only participate if the meeting isn't derailed by talk of reparations and Zionism.

As a democracy - defined by the delegates earlier this year as "a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity ... a form of genocide" - which participated in the high-tech leveling of Yugoslavia in 1999 ostensibly to protect the rights of one group of people from another, it's a stand that Canada should also take. This is especially true given our shameful coddling of dictators around the world. As an example, Canada is a nation that regularly praises Fidel Castro while only half-heartedly rebuking him for his nation's systemic bigotry towards homosexuals and black Cubans.

The South African government stated this week that it would not try and persuade any nation, including the United States and Israel, to attend the Durban meeting. Sipho Pityana, director-general of the South African Department of Foreign Affairs stated that, "Any country's absence will speak for itself."

"If they don't come, people will read into it that they don't see it as important. It will send a signal to their own constituencies and the rest of the world."

It would, but not the message that Pityana thinks will be sent. Rather, if Canada decided not to show, it would say out loud that this country will not have its taxpayer dollars support conferences which promote that which they are ostensibly opposed to. It's time for Canada to drop its unconditional support of the United Nations and take stand against racism, even when a majority at a posh conference approves it.

Well, the first month's results of our fundraising drive are in. I'd like to thank the five people who contributed this month - a total of $140 - which went towards the rather large annual fee associated with hosting Enter Stage Right. It didn't cover the whole amount, the rest had to come out of my pocket, but it certainly took the pressure off and I'd like to thank Charles Bloomer, Douglas Biggs, Andy Clement, Robert Loeb and David Matthews for their kindness (Michael Miller, the sixth person on our sponsors page, donated money earlier this year and deserves no less thanks!).

In a way, the campaign was a failure. As you may remember from last month's editorial, I calculated that if one-half of one per cent (0.005 per cent) of the 50 000 or so monthly readers donated $5, it would cover ESR's expenses for a year. Instead, the rate of donations was actually 0.0001 per cent. It's hard not to take that as a referendum of the value that is placed on ESR and the hard work of every one associated with this effort. It also makes it difficult to justify moving to an increased schedule (my thought was to move to twice weekly initially, then daily at some future point) if the magazine can't sustain itself financially.

That said, I'm committed to delivering ESR for another year. We seem to be picking up some traction by the recent attention the magazine has received from television, radio and other online venues so hopefully our profile increases greatly this year. According to some preliminary statistics I cobbled together, over half a million different people visited the web site over the past year and looked at over 1.25 million web pages. They aren't Yahoo! numbers...heck, they aren't even Salon numbers...but for an effort which began as a one man operation a few years ago I like to think it's an impressive achievement.

One change will be felt because of the lack of financial resources. Advertising will make its return on the front page as it simply costs me too much not to have it appear there. I don't like banner ads as much as you but it has to be done. The front page has been significantly lightened over the past few months so the performance hit shouldn't be too bad.

Thanks for reading,

Steven Martinovich


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