Durban II and Race in America

30 Apr 2009

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Laura Flanders of GRITtv talks to Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report about the implications for racism in America with regard to the Obama administration's decision to "boycott" the United Nation's Racism Conference, also known as Durban II, which took place in Geneva last week.

What follows below is a transcript of the interview.

LAURA FLANDERS: Glen to you. I mean after this brouhaha and President Ahmedinejad's speech, Robert Gibbs of the US administration said that it proved it was a good decision not to attend . It is, quote "I think one of the reasons why you saw the administration, the president, determine that part taking in this conference was not a wise thing to do.

Now you wrote about these things, what do you say?

GLEN FORD: Well, certainly if you set out to sabotage the event and I think the word "sabotage" is actually more descriptive of what happened, rather than boycott. The Obama administration decided that they would sabotage and subvert this event and then in the end they could say, you see we shouldn't have gone because It was really a crock, not something we should be associated with. They actively - this was not a passive boycott. They actively eviscerated the document that the conference was supposed to act upon.

They subverted the conference while at the same time making it clear that they wouldn't go there.

LAURA FLANDERS: Because originally their critique was of the document that had been produced by the Durban conference, the original conference in 2001 in South Africa and changes were made to that document. It was our understanding that if those changes were made, then the US would go, but that didn't happen.

GLENN FORD: It was clear that the US would not not be satisfied. It is clear in the conversations that the United States was having with these Zionist groups that it kept informed at every stage in the process that they had every intention of never showing up. The document would never be good enough. That the whole purpose was to sabotage the conference so that in the end they could say we shouldn't have gone anyway.

But one of the things that's not been made clear enough is that by sabotaging or boycotting this conference, they were also subverting the human rights, civil rights agenda of black America, because that conference was looking at how the United States was going to report as called for in Durban I on the problems of lingering racism here. Problems of mass incarceration, problems of residential segregation and police brutality and post-Katrina.

LAURA FLANDERS: Do you think that Barack Obama doesn't care about those things?

GLEN FORD: I think that Barack Obama indicated that he cares more about what Zionists think than he cares about those things

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