The Most Inclusive Day Ever

August 08, 2009

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I just found out that on August 9th I should observe the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. In light of this event, Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized the poor living conditions of this apparently long-disadvantaged group. I don’t always follow the advice graciously shoved down my throat by enthusiastic globalist organizations. However, this time I got a bit curious: Pillay’s lengthy press release failed to define what exactly constitutes an indigene.

According to the High Commissioner, after centuries of oppression, these peoples, all 370 million of them, have truly earned the international and state-based protection of their rights and way of life. Her statements imply that “indigenous” exclusively refers to ethnic minority groups such as the native tribes in the Amazon. In fact, Pillay asserts, the tribes practice environmentally sustainable forestry, contribute to saving the planet, and thus deserve recognition.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does not seem to offer any more explicit clues. This document was accepted by the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2007.  My Motherland, Russia, abstained, my Adoptedland, Canada, voted against it, as did the United States.

Bad Canada! Not very friendly, now, are you? Very bad United States! (By default.) Moderately crappy Russian Federation!

The Declaration’s FAQ synopsis, for example, uses standard language, promising to allow the indigenous peoples to “live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures, and traditions” and requires “new approaches to global issues, such as development, decentralization and multicultural democracy”. Grammar and syntax are, as always, interchangeable. How about “multicultural approaches to new developmental issues, such as decentralization and global democracy”?

I am going to slip into snooty academic mode for a second here: I don’t think those signifiers ever met their signified.

Okay, I’m done.

Evidently, this document does not refer to large indigenous populations in places like India and China. These two surely exceed 370 million! Is this the case because they are majority groups, or because they are growing? Then why not call this agreement the “Declaration on the Rights of Declining Indigenous Minorities”?

What about the rapidly declining local populations in multiple European countries and their consequent replacement by non-European migrants? (Oh no, I didn’t!) Do they not qualify because of their fairly high standard of living? Then why not call the August-9th event the “International Day of the World’s Declining and Economically Disadvantaged Indigenous Minorities”?

Since I was unable to find adequate clarification on the United Nations’ own website, I typed the entire title of the Day, first established in 1994, into the search engine. The automatic form filler suggested other top hitters. Apparently, Google did not know much about this event either, so I didn’t feel all that bad about my own ignorance. Instead, the engine wanted me to take a look at the International Day against 1) Racial Discrimination; 2) Homophobia; 3) Police Brutality; 4) Bullying; 5) ...

In a true spirit of equality, I did not list these web search items hierarchically. And wouldn’t it be more inclusive to create a single, superior International, no, Universal ?ber-Day against Commonly Established Massively Bad Keywords? Maybe we’d even earn the respect of aboriginal foresters in the Amazon by saving on all print-based public service advertising…

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