Everyone has their pet peeves, a list of seemingly minor irritations that can serve as major annoyances. We can all think of things that belong on this list – crying babies on a airplane, loud talkers on the phone, attention hogs, rude drivers, leaving chewing gum on a seat, a customer who continues talking on their mobile while ordering at the counter….you get the idea.
Well, in that spirit of unburdening, I wish to tell you my pet peeve, the one that irritates me to heights of homicidal rage. The offending behaviour is purportedly a joke. When seeing a group of migrants, random strangers walking on the street, who come from various ethnic backgrounds, one very clever Anglo Australian will make the comment – ‘looks like the United Nations around here!’
Do you get it…see? A multiethnic or multicultural environment, with people from Asian, Arabic, African or other ethnic backgrounds, it reminds us Aussies of the United Nations? Isn’t that clever? Wonderful comedy. This highly intelligent joke, a shallow statement hiding an ignorant ugly sentiment underneath, has all the wit and charm of a putrefying corpse.
I have heard this alleged observation a million times, and it still grinds my gears. While the person who said it grins with smug self-satisfaction, I manage a half-smile, projecting an air of mild amusement at their oh-so-clever witticism. All the while, I am contemplating the most effective way to put my fist through their face. This ‘joke’ ranks in the same category of irritations as footpath hogging, chewing food loudly, and asking questions during a movie.
Immigration, multiculturalism, the United Nations, and ethnic minorities are entirely separate entities. Yes, of course the United Nations deals with, among other things, disputes between nation states, and with the movement of refugees across and within nation states. The only time that Australian audiences hear about the UN is in news reports about wars and conflicts overseas. However, the UN and its branches perform more work than we are aware of.
Unesco, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is dedicated to the preservation of world historic sites. These places have scientific, cultural and educational value of inestimable quality, and are listed as protected under the UNESCO charter. One of those protected sites is in Sydney – Cockatoo Island. Australian authorities, as signatories to the UN, are compelled to maintain the historical significance of this site. The convict heritage of Sydney as a former British penal colony is being preserved under the auspices of UNESCO.
There is no socialist conspiracy to deprive Australians of their individual liberties; there is no Beijing-inspired Communist plot to impose totalitarian rules over the world. No, Australians are not being lectured to by ‘UN bureaucrats’. There is a shared commitment by the nations of the world, through the mechanism of UNESCO, to maintain sites of cultural and scientific importance.
To be sure, there is no shortage of leftist criticisms of the UN – with which I agree – that it is a thieves’ kitchen. Subject to the balance of forces among the imperialist nations, the UN flag has been deployed as a fig leaf to provide a legitimate cover for imperialist interests. The 1991 Gulf War, more appropriately called the first attack on Iraq, had the imprimatur of the UN.
It was still a criminal, predatory war designed to implement the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States. The latter, which had long criticised the UN for its supposed bias towards poorer nations, began singing praises for the UN in the lead up to the 1991 attack.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of a UN resolution which still has consequences until today. The UN resolution on the partition of Palestine was a momentous decision, the implications of which still reverberate today. The British Mandate authorities left behind a divided state, and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Zionist forces proceeded apace. The Palestinians have been denied the pledge of an independent state ever since.
This resolution was a diplomatic victory for Zionism and its imperialist supporters. The UN’s role as an instrument for imperialist diplomacy was exposed by this episode. The wrong conclusion to draw, which sometimes the left does, is complete indifference or hostility to the UN. The solution is to democratise the UN, so that it becomes truly representative of the will of the world’s majority population.
Perhaps I am taking this ‘joke’ too seriously. Well, if that is the case, and I should just ‘lighten up’, here is my suggested storage location for that advice. Actually, the Australian government does take the UN seriously. The Australian authorities denied permission to a UN delegation investigating torture access to prisons, immigration detention centres, and youth detention compounds.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about the use of torture in Australian detention facilities. It appears the authorities are a bit sensitive about the UN poking around, potentially uncovering all sorts of breaches of UN protocols.
Let’s understand the nature and role of the UN in the modern world, and leave the juvenile jokes in the dustbin.