On February 18, UN Secretary General António Guterres graced the world with another of his many uplifting speeches.
Of the limited range of topics that are routinely broached – climate change, discrimination, the pandemic and racism – he chose to focus on the last of the mentioned. It went something like this: Ladies and gentlemen, in case you have not noticed (which is even absurd to assume but never mind), racism plagues our world. Then António Guterres – in Alfred Hitchcock style: first an earthquake, then the tension rises – hyperbolised this breathtaking gambit with the usual adjectives to the tune of “abhorrent”, “ugly”, and the noun “repudiation”. Racism – despite decades of reeducating humanity and despite the Charter of the United Nations – is everywhere! and so it will take a long time to combat it. The top representative of humanity went on to appeal to his worldwide audience that it must – without reservation, without hesitation, without qualification – reject and condemn racism, which still permeates institutions, social structures and everyday life. Furthermore, António Guterres said that although racism, a repudiation of our common humanity, is deeply entrenched in centuries of colonialism and slavery and is a complex cultural phenomenon, especially because our world is letting go of the primacy of reason, tolerance and mutual respect, leaving place for – yes, of course – growing anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred (some undefined minority Christian groups have also been thrown in), intolerance and – yes, again an easy guess – xenophobia, which, again is everywhere, around the world. António Guterres coupled the above-mentioned phenomena with the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the inequalities, systematic prejudice and discrimination against marginalized, racial and ethnic groups, against – surprise, surprise – gender, age, class, caste, religion, disability, sexual orientation as if we all did not know this string of adjectives by heart by now.
The solution? There you have it. António Guterres says that we must build a better world (since the dawn of history we are nothing but engaged in building a better world), forge a new social contract (is António Guterres another embodiment of Jean-Jacques Rousseau?) based on – now the usual fashionable buzz words – inclusivity and sustainability; we must invest in social cohesion (obviously by) making societies more and more diverse, more and more multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural. People must be made to see the benefits of diversity rather than perceiving it as a threat.
Why does the secretary general deign to approach this theme now while the pandemic is in full swing? Why do we always hear about – roughly – three problems: climate change, discrimination of minority groups and racism? Why do discrimination of all kinds and racism persist and stubbornly refuse to recede despite all the many measures undertaken by supra-, inter- and national organisations, by governments signing the many compacts, charters, agreements and pacts to the effect of eliminating these repulsive phenomena? Why is it so that nationalism, populism, xenophobia, white supremacy (that’s also the term that António Guterres used in his momentous speech) and Neo-Nazism are growing? Hey, is it not because of the agency of the said supra-, inter- and national organisations, is it not because of the activities of the governments signing the many compacts, charters, agreements and pacts? Is it not because the misty-eyed do-gooders, rather than reckon with reality, with human biology and psyche, enforce an egalitarian world upon all manner of ethnicities and social groups? Is it not because nationalism, xenophobia and racism are natural phenomena? How can we achieve social cohesion by mixing diverse races, nations, religions and cultures? Hey, are we still in our right senses? Spouses that are averse to each other are separated and never forced to live together, but here, on the social plane, people of different races, nations, religions and cultures who are suspicious of each other to put it mildly are invited, nay, forced to share the same territory, and this agency on the part of the United Nations and governments is praised as a measure aiming at bringing peace, stability and cohesion?
Does the speech of António Guterres not remind one of the many speeches of former communist leaders of East Germany or the Soviet Union, of China or Cuba, as they would constantly talk about class struggle, class distinction, class enemies, class this, class that, time and time again?
Hey, is it not about time to start reckoning with reality as it is, with human biology, psyche, evolutionary hardwired mechanisms rather than combating them?
Since time immemorial we have had racism, xenophobia, nationalism, social castes and exclusive religious communities – generally – the in- and out-group division, and they are here to stay for all eternity. Does the UN secretary general not see that he himself and people of his ilk position themselves in the in-group of anti-racists as opposed to the out-group of racists (xenophobes, nationalists)?
Does he not see that he is creating a division, a fault line between the good and the bad?
Can he not see that it is HE who defines those who belong to polite, accepted society and who are repulsive outcasts?
Is it beyond his mental capabilities to realise that members of the out-group think the same about him and his company?
Is it really beyond his mental capabilities to picture to himself his opponent delivering a speech to his followers in which he says:
Ladies and gentlemen, abhorrent, ugly multiculturalism plagues our world! Ladies and gentlemen, diversity is raising its ugly head and tearing down our ethnicity! We must combat the Migration Compact which envisages the dilution of our ethnicity in the flood of immigrants. Is António Guterres really not able to view things in this light? Whence his moral high ground? Whence his moral superiority?
It may be that António Guterres understands all this, it may be that he and the ones whose mouthpiece he is only want to cast light on a selected range of topics for the world public to focus on and digest. It may be that António Guterres and those who put him in the capacity of the United Nations Secretary General want to keep humanity busy combating now racism, now climate change; now discrimination, now fake news. When people are given a noble goal, when people are following spotlights, the powers that be are busy setting the props, doing backstage deals. If that is the case, they are cunning manipulators.
It may as well be that the movers and shakers really believe in creating a heavenly kingdom on earth, without conflicts, without privation, without animosities. If that is the case, they had better consult a specialist. Urgently.
António Guterres, Remarks to 2021 ECOSOC Meeting on “Reimagining Equality: Eliminating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination for All in the Decade of Action for the SDGs,” 18 February 2021, United Nations Secretary General website.
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