More from fatigue than from consensus, the United Nation's misbegotten World Conference Against Bad Things (i.e. "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance") gave up after adopting resolutions that were far less radical than a clamoring majority wanted.
European nations that hung in after the United States and Israel walked out in disgust used the threat of their own walkout to force the delegates to abandon a weeklong effort, clearly favored by most, to declare Israel a racist, apartheid state simply for existing.
In exchange, the European Union and others apologized, de facto, for colonialism and supported a declaration that slavery and the slave trade are crimes against humanity "and always should have been."
Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Still, the resolution is harmless. No one has thought well of slavery for almost 150 years — except the few who still practice it — but if this makes some folks somehow feel better, fine.
The condemnation was specifically for the Atlantic slave trade, ignoring the concurrent involvement of Arab traders and Arab sultanates and empires in the East African slave trade. Like most U.N. posturing, the conference was an exercise in double standards and selective umbrage.
At least the conference veered off from demanding divisive individual reparations for the descendants of slavery. It is hard to imagine an enterprise more certain to fully reopen this nation's racial wounds. .
Delegates ignored the fact that Taliban Muslim extremists have reduced the women and girls of Afghanistan to gender peonage; that China is executing thousands after beating confessions out of them for crimes most of the world considers minor; that Muslims from northern Sudan are capturing and selling the Christians and animists of southern Sudan.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said ahead of time that the conference would do best to focus on preventing human rights abuses in the future rather than dwelling on old grievances.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Tom Teepen is a columnist for Cox Newspapers. He is based in Atlanta. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.