Is US Right to Boycott Racism Conference?

It’s the first UN conference on racism in eight years, and the US has its first black president. Yet President Obama has elected to boycott the conference convening in Geneva Monday, albeit “with regret”. That means no US delegation to the conference, and Canada, German, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia have followed suit.
UN Conference on Racism
UN Conference on Racism

US opposition is centered on the belief that the conference will be used as a platform to criticize Israel. This issue shattered the last conference in Durban, South Africa back in 2001. Both Israel and the US walked out of that one.

How in the world does a conference on racism end up focusing on the Middle East in the first place? One of Monday’s headline speakers at the conference is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who has vowed to destroy Israel.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Racism is a deep and pervasive problem worldwide, and to focus the discussion on the Middle East, which, quiet as it’s kept, has its own history of racism, trivializes it.

Just take a look at the nations boycotting the conference, and ask yourselves what their history regarding race has been. Australia? How about the treatment of aborigines? Italy, the Netherlands, Germany? Doesn’t anyone want to discuss the legacy of colonialism? And then there’s the US. It seems strange that a black president would pull the plug on US participation in a conference on the biggest stain on his own country’s legacy.

If we are the only remaining superpower left on earth, why haven’t we taken on a greater role in fashioning the racism conference’s agenda? How about Secretary of State Clinton standing up and saying no, this won’t be about Israel, it will be about racism? In America, reaction to the boycott has already fallen along political lines. Supporters of Israel hail it, black organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus, aren’t happy.

In the end, President Obama has made a mistake here. He should have sent a delegation of “heavy hitters” to the conference, and used American influence to re-fashion the conference’s agenda. The argument that any gathering trying to address racism should have Israel as a primary agenda gives aid and comfort to racist groups all over this planet.

Shouldn’t we know better than this by now?

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Disgusting Dominos Pizza

Disgusting Dominos? What with teabag parties and the Obama’s new dog dominating the news, we thought maybe it’s time to let people know again of the dangers of stupid social media use. Kids have already been busted for posting nude and semi-nude pictures of themselves on the Internet.

Now comes the story of two (former) workers at Dominos Pizza, whose YouTube prank has them facing felony charges.

This pair of dummies, Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer, posted a video on YouTube showing Setzer making sandwiches.

Problem is, he shoved cheese up his nose and then put it on one sandwich, than blew nasal mucus onto another. All with what I guess they thought was cute commentary from Hammonds.

Comments from the more than a million hits the video got led both Dominos officials and police to the pair, who worked in Conover, North Carolina. However, their discovery was the least of the pizza chain’s problems. It turned out the video was referenced in five of the 12 results on Google’s first page when Dominos was plugged in.

It became a hot topic on Twitter as well. From there, it was all downhill for Dominos. In less than a week, the video appears to have seriously damaged the company’s reputation. In fact, Dominos is considering a civil lawsuit against the pair. That, however, won’t undo the damage already done. Neither will the apology from Hammonds that said the whole thing was fake. As one media maven told the New York Times, when it comes to social media “if you think it’s not going to spread, that’s when it gets bigger.”

Who knows how many people either saw or heard about the video, then had second thoughts about ordering from Dominos?

Beyond that, it’s a testament to the power of social media, a term that wasn’t even used much at the turn of the century. YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook have all changed the way we deal with each other and, some say, the way we see ourselves.

What would you do with Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer? Would you lock them up? How can Dominos make this go away? You tell me.

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Mark Riley : News, Views and Progressive Opinions

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