The Report Newsmagazine
Save The Family Save The World 
by Tom McFeely 

The 1,500 delegates who gathered November 14-17 at the Second World
Congress of Families in Geneva had a message for the anti-family
activists who dominate today's international social debates. An
expanding and sophisticated alliance, rooted in a shared belief in the
importance of the natural family, is ready to contest the radicals at
every level, from the smallest community to the United Nations. And
with humanity's most basic institution now the battlefield,
conservatives believe they have finally found common ground upon which
they can unite to defeat the forces seeking to deconstruct the family.
As Congress of Families co-chairman Allan Carlson, president of the
Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, remarked
in his opening address, "This is the social engineering most needed in
our time: the kind that will protect the natural family, and allow it
to thrive."

There were lots of gloomy stories for delegates to exchange in Geneva,
ranging from France's and Ontario's recognition last month of
homosexual " spouses" to the UN-directed promotion of abortion and
artificial contraception across the societies of AIDS-ravaged Africa.
But hope, not pessimism, was the central theme. Many participants cited
an international poll conducted just before the Congress by Wirthlin
Worldwide. It found deep global support for the natural family, with
84% of respondents agreeing that "the definition of marriage is one man
and one woman," and 78% concurring that "a family created through
lawful marriage is the fundamental unit of society." Moreover, a solid
pro-family majority exists in every global region, even in socially
liberal North America and Western Europe.

Still, conservative analysts acknowledge the tide toward liberalism has
reached a critical watershed. For more than two centuries, policymakers
have been increasingly sympathetic to leftist ideologies. Such
ideologies, both in their older socialist variants and in their newer
radical-feminist and radical-environmentalist mutations, view human
nature as a purely social construct. Further, they hold that this
socially-constructed nature has been deformed by "oppressive
institutions" like the family and religion.  Consequently, leftists
have campaigned since the French Revolution to replace these voluntary
institutions with arbitrary structures through which autonomous
individuals, unencumbered by tradition, can contract with an
omnipresent state for their social rights and entitlements.

Understandably, as the basic social unit, the family has been a
particular target for radicals. During most of the 20th century, the
attack was most explicit in the Soviet Union and its satellite states
in Eastern Europe.  Michaela Freiova, the director of the family and
society program of the Civic Institute of the Czech Republic and a
former anti-communist activist, says that collectivization was more
pronounced in Czechoslovakia than anywhere outside of the Soviet Union
itself. Women were commonly forced to abandon mothering duties for the
workplace, and parental authority was intentionally subverted,
particularly with regard to education and religious instruction.
State-run nurseries, officially characterized as an " infant paradise,"
sprang up across the country. "The philosophy was that the child was to
be reared in the collective, by the collective, and for the
collective," Mrs. Freiova says.

However, children raised in such environments frequently suffered from
profound social pathologies, described as early as the 1960s as "
deprivation syndrome." And while communism's economic failure was the
proximate cause of the Soviet Bloc's disintegration, the newly
liberated citizenries of Eastern Europe made re-establishment of their
damaged family structures a priority.

But even the collapse of the Soviet empire, where the destructive
consequences of social radicalism were unmistakable, failed to slow its
international advance. Instead, as speaker after speaker in Geneva
noted, the promotion through UN structures of an expansive array of
novel "human rights" has dramatically enhanced the attack on the

The UN's anti-family bias is not new. In an essay entitled The Natural
Family Under Siege, Mr. Carlson ascribes its emergence to a group of
Scandinavian socialists who infiltrated UN structures in the late
1940s. The group included Gunnar and Anna Myrdal, a Swedish couple
whose 1934 book Crisis in the Population Question argued that the
traditional conceptions of marriage and parenting must be replaced by
radical sexual egalitarianism and the assumption of child-rearing by
the state.

Both of the Myrdals assumed prominent positions at the UN, but their
"progressive" marriage soon disintegrated because of Gunnar's fixation
on his professional life. Embittered by the break-up, Alva moved from
Geneva to New York to advance her own career, leaving behind her
daughters, aged 15 and 12. In 1950, she was appointed head of the
division of social science of the UN's Economic and Social Council,
despite having no social- science training. This position provided an
"unprecedented opportunity" to purge the UN bureaucracy of
traditionalists, according to Mr. Carlson, and to install an
ideological cadre "committed to Alva Myrdal's vision of the family as a
social institution requiring radical change."

That vision was detailed in the Alva Myrdal Report, commissioned in the
late 1960s by Sweden's Social Democratic Party. The report advocated
the elimination of every social, political and economic distinction
enjoyed by marriage and "more protection to other forms of
co-habitation," on the grounds that social "equality" requires
eradicating all areas "where Nature has created great and fundamental

If Scandinavians were the early UN exponents of socialism and feminism,
multimillionaire Canadian businessman-bureaucrat Maurice Strong was
equally responsible for the similarly significant entrenchment of green
activism.  Mr. Strong began brokering the unlikely UN alliance between
corporate interests and environmentalist non-governmental organizations
( NGOs) while serving as secretary-general of the 1972 Stockholm
Conference on the Human Environment.

His influence remains pervasive. One of Mr. Strong's current
initiatives, as chairman of the Earth Council, is promotion of the
"People's Earth Charter." Article 8 of the draft charter, which is to
be submitted to the UN General Assembly for ratification in 2002, calls
for "universal access to healthcare that fosters reproductive health
and responsible reproduction." "Reproductive health" is the UN's
favoured codeword for promoting on-demand abortion and artificial
contraception. "The real goal of the Earth Charter is that it will in
fact become like the Ten Commandments, like the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights," Mr. Strong explained in a March 1998 interview.

While anti-family activists have long dominated the UN apparatus, their
ability to influence world affairs remained limited until three key
events occurred: the 1989 promulgation of the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CROC); the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro;
and the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development
(ICPD). Articles 12 through 16 of CROC, the most widely ratified
international treaty ever, mandate the "rights" of minor children to
such things as freedom of association and freedom of expression. The
application of these articles, CROC's pro-family critics charge,
inevitably leads to such things as the sanctioning of unimpeded access
of young children to pornography and other destructive influences, and
more broadly to the permanent usurpation of parental authority by state

The Earth Summit, and its "Agenda 21" green manifesto, served as the
blueprint for environmental globalism. Agenda 21 rests explicitly on
the assumption that existing social institutions, including the family,
are inadequate to meet environmental challenges. It too mandates the
promotion of "reproductive health," and advocates "the sharing of
household tasks by men and women on an equal basis." Mr. Strong, who
chaired the Earth Summit, used the conference to formally unite green
activists with UN feminists through new NGOs like the Women's
Environmental and Development Organization.

Cairo was the site of another anti-family synthesis. Until 1994, the
UN's population-control movement sought to persuade Third World
governments to impose quotas on population growth. But at the ICPD,
population controllers publicly renounced coercive quotas and allied
with feminists in endorsing the "reproductive health" concept. For
population controllers, the main benefit of "reproductive health" is
that it promotes depopulation by "empowering" women to contracept or to
abort unborn children. For feminists, the benefit is the "liberation"
of women from motherhood's "oppression."

In the post-Cairo period, UN bodies, Western governments and activist
NGOs further institutionalized the feminist, green and children's
rights agendas.  Just as Canadian courts have used Canada's Charter of
Rights and Freedoms to retroactively "read" homosexual rights into
legislation that never envisioned such privileges, the UN committees
that monitor compliance with the six international human-rights
treaties have "re- interpreted" those treaties' contents. In one
notable 1994 case, the Human Rights committee ruled that an Australian
anti-sodomy law violated the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights by discriminating against homosexuals.

The committees monitoring CROC and the 1979 Convention to Eliminate All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have been equally
creative.  The CROC committee has criticized several countries,
including Canada, for allowing spanking. In 1995, the same committee
attacked Great Britain for allowing parents to withdraw their childrens
from sex-ed programs. As for the CEDAW committee, in recent years it
has criticized countries which have failed to legalize abortion,
attacked Slovenia for having less than 30% of children under three in
daycare, instructed Libya to re-interpret Muslim religious texts to
conform with UN perspectives, and chastised China for failing to
legalize prostitution.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), working
primarily through pro-abortion NGOs like the International Planned
Parenthood Federation, has orchestrated the implementation of
"reproductive health" programs around the world. UNICEF, under the
direction of executive director Carol Bellamy, a feminist politician
from New York, is collaborating with UNFPA and the World Health
Organization to promote sex- ed programs and other "reproductive
health" initiatives aimed at " adolescents," a group defined by UN
agencies as beginning at age ten.

Canada is intimately involved with all these efforts. Former prime
minister Brian Mulroney led the drive to ratify CROC, whose contents
were framed in substantial measure by Canadian activists. In the run-up
to the 1995 Fourth UN Conference on Women in Beijing, a Canadian
delegate introduced "sexual orientation" for the first time into a
formal UN negotiation. At the 1996 Habitat II conference in Istanbul,
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls castigated the Canadian
delegation for refusing to allow a reference to "the family" in the
conference document ( Canada demanded the alternative phrasing "various
forms of the family," code for recognition of homosexual "marriage").
More recently, Ottawa was a chief sponsor of this year's "Cairo+5"
negotiations, organized by activists in hopes of further broadening the
definition of "reproductive health."

The objectives of the UN's leftist activists vary between the developed
and developing world. In the secularized West, the chief aim is to
supplement the existing sway of liberalism over bureaucracies, courts
and other key governmental institutions by "universalizing" radical
agendas as international human rights, thereby rendering them immune to
repeal by democratically elected local or national governments.

In the predominantly Christian and Muslim societies of the Third World,
the intent is to attach a veneer of international legitimacy for
unwanted intrusions into the delicate spheres of church and family.
Kenyan pediatrician Dr. Margaret Ogola, medical director of the
Cottolenga Hospice for HIV-positive orphans, says this ideological
imperialism is especially disastrous in Africa. The promotion of condom
use by UN agencies and Western NGOs has furthered the spread of AIDS by
promoting promiscuity. At the same time, the campaign to persuade women
to have small families or no children at all is rupturing the African
extended family, which is the only social support institution available
to most of the impove-rished continent's AIDS victims. Kenya alone has
800,000 AIDS orphans. "For me," says Dr. Ogola, "that is the tragedy of
population control followed by HIV 'prevention.'"

Against this backdrop, the first World congress of Families was
convened in Prague in 1997. Last year, organizers drafted a
cross-cultural definition of the natural family. This month's second
Congress meeting in Geneva drew twice as many participants as Prague,
with the most notable shift being the increase in the number of
non-Christians. The Muslim contingent, led by Jehan Sadat, widow of
former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, was particular evident.

But while the emerging pro-family alliance is dominated by adherents to
orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, there is little dispute over
religious doctrine. The reason, explains Rabbi Daniel Lapin, is that
the family advocates share an understanding that recognizes the natural
family as the core of every durable human society, and that
acknowledges the necessary and healthy distinctions between the sexes.
As well, the virulence of the UN-driven assault is a powerful goad
toward unity. "The issue is not theological debate, the question is
whether our cultures will survive," comments Rabbi Lapin, who hosts a
nationally syndicated radio talk show in Seattle.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council of
the Family, also affirmed the transcendent character of the pro-family
arguments. Speaking on the final day of the Congress of Families, he
stressed that the nature of the family is not determined by political
debate; "it is the design of God and the basis of everything. It has
its roots in man's hearts."

Along with staking out their territory on the basis of a shared
understanding of human nature, family advocates must articulate their
claims through a new "language of democracy," according to Toronto
author and analyst William Gairdner. Currently, radicals win most
political debates by cloaking their demands in a pseudo-democratic
rhetoric, one that posits that every individual must contract
independently with government for his rights.  In reality, Mr. Gairdner
points out, a social contract made solely between individuals and the
state is a short-cut to totalitarianism. The coercive character of the
state immediately manifests itself by usurping all the authority
assigned in healthy societies to families, churches and the other
voluntary components of civil society.

Conservatives have been unable to communicate adequately their
competing vision of "organic" democracy, wherein the claims of
individuals and the state are both subordinate to the family because it
alone is the foundation of authentic community life. But that may
change, Mr. Gairdner suspects, now that social radicals are openly
targeting the family. "Is the family the one institution with which we
at least have a chance?" he muses. "I think that it is."

In keeping with Mr. Carlson's appeal for "creative social engineering,"
panellists at the World Congress identified a variety of policy thrusts
to support the family. At the national level, many cited tax cuts,
along with an end to the discrimination against single-earner families
imposed by the tax codes of Canada and other Western governments, as
being crucial. Another important element, given the sociological and
psychological evidence of the damage marital breakdown inflicts on
children, is to dispense with no-fault divorce and to re-institute
tough penalties against those who casually walk away from their spouses
and families.

A third approach, one already adopted by the Australian federal
government, is the creation of a national family strategy. Australian
MP Kevin Andrews, chairman of his government's policy committee on
family and community affairs, suggests Australia's "next step" will be
to emulate the Alberta government's "Family Policy Grid," which
requires all government departments and agencies to formally review the
impact of their policies and programs on families.

At the international level, pro-family advocates are ready to get "
creative" against the UN itself. Many seminal UN documents, most
notably the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirm the
family as "the natural and fundamental unit" of society, and can be
used to trump the newer and less authoritative pronouncements being
made by UN agencies and committees in favour of things like homosexual
unions and state interference with parental oversight. Toronto lawyer
Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada and a
veteran pro-family lobbyist at UN social-policy conferences, suggests
that national governments should simply ignore the "phony provisions"
that UN monitoring committees are reading into treaties.

Another approach is to insist that national delegations to UN
negotiations be subject to rigorous parliamentary oversight. Roy Beyer,
president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, says this would help
rectify the democratic deficit that so often characterizes UN-driven
policymaking. " The most important thing is creating an awareness of
the actions of our UN delegates, who are actually catalysts of the
radical agenda," he says.

Such suggestions may appear sadly inadequate to forestall further
advances by the well-funded and deeply entrenched anti-family forces at
the UN. But Cardinal Trujillo, speaking to reporters at a press
conference, pointed out that many observers had considered the Soviet
empire to be even more impregnable. But it had been built on a lie, and
hence was quickly swept away, almost without a hand being raised. So
too, the Vatican prelate confidently predicted, would the profound
truth of the family's worth triumph over the false claims of its
radical opponents.

Results of the kiddie-rights vote

Few issues in recent years have so galvanized Canadian parents against
UN-sponsored activism as did last month's UNICEF-sponsored and
taxpayer- funded "National Election for the Rights of Youth." The
election, which was co-sponsored by Elections Canada and timed to
coincide with the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child, asked students to pick from 10 "rights," ranging from
"Rest & Play" to "Share Opinions."

The final turnout of 3.8% of total students was far below the 10% to
15% predicted by UNICEF Canada president Harry Black. The kids'
favourite choice was probably another disappointment to children's
rights activists: 24.9% plumped for "Family," with "Food & Shelter" and
"Health" finishing second and third.

For drugs, a radically different prescription

Speaking in Geneva, Dr. Joe Santamaria, an Australian specialist on
addiction and the family, singled out Canada as one of the countries
that is succumbing to the arguments in favour of decriminalizing drug
use. A more fruitful approach, Dr. Santamaria insisted, is to
strengthen families.

Faced with the seemingly intractable drug scenes in cities like
Vancouver, even some Canadian conservatives have accepted the "harm
reduction" arguments of drug liberals. However, the experience of
Zurich, home of some of the world's laxest hard-drug policies, provides
little support for the "harm reduction" case.

The city first experimented with drug liberalization in 1980, according
to Diethelm Raff, a Zurich psychologist and drug-policy analyst. A few
leftist doctors working at the "Autonomous Youth Centre" began covertly
distributing heroin to addicts. They stopped a year later, Mr. Raff
says, but not before Zurich had developed a substantial drug scene for
the first time.

The drive for decriminalization accelerated in the late 1980s, after a
" Red-Green" coalition of leftists and environmentalists won control of
city council. Police were ordered to stop prosecuting addicts and
dealers, triggering a wild drug scene in a park dubbed "Platzspitz," or
"Needle Park."

Authorities eventually closed down Needle Park, but the drug scene
merely gravitated to a deserted train station. There, dealers set up
tables where addicts openly bought and injected heroin, with civic
workers on hand to supply needles.

Zurich's "progressive" council finally instructed police to shut down
the station facility in 1995, after city residents had sanctioned a
comprehensive regime of "harm reduction" policies. The regime features
such things as city-operated "shooting galleries," where junkies can
enjoy a cup of coffee while injecting themselves, and "accompanied
living" apartment buildings, where they are housed at city expense and
serviced by social workers who attend to all their addiction-induced
difficulties. A massive needle distribution program, which includes
street vending machines that dispense "flashpacks" containing needles
and condoms, is another component.

The most controversial element of all is an experimental heroin
distribution program, implemented after trials were approved in a
national referendum.  When the program came up for review this spring,
proponents claimed it would be vindicated by a report about to be
released by the World Health Organization. A narrow majority of voters
supported the trials' continuation, but when the WHO report was later
released, it stated the trials were too methodologically flawed to
prove anything.

Dr. Raff says other "harm reduction" claims, such as an alleged
reduction in the transmission of HIV, are equally flimsy. Moreover,
courtesy of liberalization, Zurich has a population of addicts several
times larger than when it followed an abstinence-based enforcement and
treatment policy.

Analysts like Dr. Raff and Dr. Santamaria don't claim their preferred
alternatives, such as building healthy families, are a panacea. But,
they stress, it is well documented that children from intact families
have far lower rates of drug abuse, and that the intervention of
families can be critical in the success of treatment programs. And,
they point out, similar documentation of the benefits of "harm
reduction" is notably hard to find.

Joe Clark versus the family

Last week, when Joe Clark announced his planned candidacy in the riding
of Calgary Centre, the federal Tory leader was flanked by his wife
Maureen McTeer and their daughter Caroline. But the imagery was more
than a little deceptive, if Mr. Clark's intent was to portray his PCs
as a family- friendly party. The day before his announcement, PC
national director Susan Elliott circulated a "special report" via
e-mail to party activists that characterized incumbent Calgary Centre
MP Eric Lowther as a "single issue zealot" for his unflagging support
of family issues.

Mr. Lowther, who heads Reform's family caucus, was also negatively
singled out by Ms. Elliott for being "closely affiliated with Focus on
the Family, a Christian lobby group." A third shortcoming, in Ms.
Elliott's view, was the fact that "the Family Action Coalition gave
[Mr. Lowther] a 100% rating on a range of socially conservative

The antipathy of the Joe Clark Tories towards social conservatives is
no surprise to those who have listened closely to Mr. Clark's
pronouncements since he became PC leader a year ago. But Ms. Elliott's
open hostility will surprise more casual followers of politics who have
erroneously assumed that the Tories are seeking the allegiance of
right-of-centre voters. Still, Mr.  Clark's Red Tory credentials are
hardly new; they were on constant display during his long tenure as
Brian Mulroney's foreign minister. Indeed, it was on Mr. Clark's watch
that Canada led the international campaign to draft and ratify the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of the UN documents most
frequently targeted by conservatives for undermining parental authority
and as an enemy of parents and the family.

For his part, Mr. Lowther says that Ms. Elliott's comments highlight
Mr.  Clark's continuing incapacity to grasp political, economic and
social realities. To view support for the family as "single issue
zealotry" is incomprehensible, the Reform MP adds, given that virtually
every significant political issue bears directly on the welfare of
Canadian families.

Mr. Lowther is also unapologetic about his association with issues that
concern Christians and other religious adherents. "Whether it's
Christians or Jews or anyone else, to marginalize these people in the
political process is wrong and I'm certainly not going to exclude
them," he says.

Ms. Elliott's remarks could give the United Alternative movement a
major boost as it prepares for its crucial founding convention in
Ottawa in late January. One veteran Tory activist e-mailed an angry
response to Ms. Elliott and several other senior party officials after
receiving her communique. "I fully support family values and Focus on
the Family and find this type of smear offensive!" wrote the party
member, who was identified on a leaked copy of the e-mail as a former
riding president and federal candidate in the 1993 election. "I expect
this from the media, but I cannot, nor will I support any party that
will use such anti-family slander. If you want my support and my annual
contribution, you will do something about it, and soon."

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