Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Politically, I’m independent and moderate. So when conservative commentators characterize the climate change juggernaut as a United Nations plot to control our lives, my first instinct is to arch an eyebrow and murmur: Really?
To my ears, that sounds far-fetched. But as I become more familiar with the UN’s approach to climate matters, the harder it is for me to regard this organization as benign. Pernicious sounds more like it.
This week I heard about a speech delivered in Cancun in connection with the climate change summit. The speaker was Ted Turner, the media mogul who founded CNN and spent the 1990s married to actress Jane Fonda.
According to the Globe and Mail newspaper:
Mr. Turner – a long-time advocate of population control – said the environmental stress on the Earth requires radical solutions, suggesting countries should follow China’s lead in instituting a one-child policy to reduce global population over time. [bold added]
Turner is one of the UN’s most prominent faces. Which means what he says matters. A 1997 pledge on his part to donate a total of $1 billion resulted in the establishment of the United Nations Foundation. Turner is its chairman.
It so happens Marie Claire, the women’s magazine, has a story about China’s one-child policy in its current issue. It tells us about 35-year-old Wei Laojin. In April, her husband’s brother was dragged from his home by a dozen government goons. Spend a second thinking about how terrifying that would be. The mother of two sons, aged four and six, told the magazine:
The officials said there was only one way to get my brother-in-law released: I had to undergo forced sterilization.
She wasn’t alone. During that month, an Iron Fist Campaign targeted 10,000 people in her part of China. In some cases, grandparents or siblings were taken hostage and confined to holding areas described as damp and over-crowded. Sureally, Chinese law forbids the taking of hostages in these situations, but this appears to be window-dressing designed to deflect critics. (See other sources here, here, and here.)
Believing she had no choice, Laojin tearfully reported to a medical clinic. It displays a sign that reads:
Have Fewer Children. Eugenics for a Happy Life, a Happy Family, and a Harmonious Society.
She was sterilized in a room in which three other women were also undergoing the procedure. A doctor reportedly told a television station that surgeries were conducted non-stop from eight in the morning until 4 am the next day. Which suggests that the safety and well-being of the women involved wasn’t anyone’s top concern.
Since introducing the one-child policy in 1979, Chinese officials have also coerced women into having abortions (including late-term ones). Families are fined for unsanctioned births, and such offspring are denied residency documents – which must be produced in order to qualify for health care and education.
Ted Turner – who has himself fathered five children – wants to see more women in more countries subject to this grim reproductive regime.
Surely that’s not OK. Surely decent people are outraged. Surely family size is a private – not a government – decision.
What are we supposed to think when a prominent UN official advocates exporting China’s one-child misery abroad? What are we to conclude when other UN officials fail to distance themselves from these remarks?
See a 2008 interview with Turner here. At 48 minutes, 44 seconds he says he’s proud of how well all five of his kids have turned out.