By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- Alongside the real UN there is a parallel one, based on careful editing and relying on the sweat equity of 68 years of idealists, some of whom left or remained disillusioned.
This parallel UN was on display on Wednesday night six blocks from the UN in the Gabarron Carriage House Center for the Arts on 38th Street. There was photographs from Korea, the Sinai and Eastern Congo; there were posters about Haiti and by Keith Haring.
There was Ban Ki-moon, returned only earlier in the day from the Nelson Mandela memorial in South Africa, with a detour through the Group of 77. There was former Group of 77 leader Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt, now Ban's Special Adviser on Africa.
Ban in his prepared remarks did pay tribute to the unknown people who build up the UN's name. But what about the ranks of bigger name people who tear it down? Okay there was no mention of Kurt Waldheim -- as noted, that gets edited out.
But it must be said: Ban posed under a poster about Haiti, the UN's response to the earthquake there. Yes, many idealists were there, some died. But the UN brought cholera to the island, and has yet to admit it, or to apologize.
By Inner City Press' last report, the UN's Office of Legal Affairs refused to even accept service of legal papers on behalf of the victims. No amount of stunning archive photos can make this go away.
Or take for example the photo of Eastern Congo, or one tweeted by Gabarron that UN Peacekeepers only use force in self defense. The latter is no longer true: the UN now deploys attack helicopters in the Congo, and recently participated as the Malian Army fired at unarmed protesters in Kidal.
There has been a change, but this parallel UN doesn't acknowledge it. Nor even answer questions: the current head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous openly refuses to answer Press questions, video here, UK coverage here. The UN allows this to continue.
Le Monde ran a puff piece about the exhibition, noting that at Gabarron "the sessions are sometimes followed by a projection of a Stevie Wonder concert at the UN, or a radio program with, among others, Audrey Hepburn and Michael Douglas."
Two of these are set to be honored a week from now, along with Ban Ki-moon, by the United Nations Correspondents Association, collaborators in the falseness of this parallel world, and at times spies for it (click here for that.) They preach freedom of the press -- but their leaders tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, based onreporting about Sri Lanka and conflict of interest. They've yet to institute any rule that they won't do it again.
They say TV equipment from Samsung "doesn't involve any mission" -- when even the UN admits that it does. As one UN official at the Gabarron on Wednesday night, one from the real not parallel UN, said the UN would do better answering all questions, not hiding and stonewalling. But they have to choose: real world or its parallel?
Footnote: cursory research after the event found that the carriage house itself was put on the market last year for $8.25 million dollars. Apparently there were no takers, as the show is on there. But like some the UN increasingly seems to be, it is for sale. Watch this site.