The Voice of the Geeks of Export

I'm young enough to remember Malcolm X and the people inspired by him.   I remember when labelling people "the Malcom X" of gay rights, or "the Malcom X of" some other cause meant "extreme and turning people off, but admired for their persistence in defending people who have been without a public defender."

More important lightning rod
The danger of being a "Malcolm X" is that you are baited (like some believe Reverend Al Sharpton was, in the Tawana Brawley case) into defending someone of unconfirmed integrity.   People have no idea who the person is that you are defending, the third party news sources seem to indicate something may not be right.  The fact that you loudly protest in the defense of someone appears to be based on what they are rather than who they are.

In calculating whether the role of Malcolm X needs to be filled, or whether it's better to recreate the role to be a more nuanced and balanced authority, you kind of need to imagine the world without that "lightning rod" role.   The lighting rod is both scary because it gets struck by lightning... yet we value it, because the lighting would otherwise strike someone less able to defend themselves.

The image of the lightning rod being struck again and again makes lightning not just less dangerous, but less scary.

So... the danger about blogging in defense of used computer exports:

1) We accidentally rush to the defense of someone of questionable integrity.
2) We are afraid to be a lighting rod, and write pansey drivel
3) We become a monotone, single-issue advocate speaking about boring buggy whips, rather than people
4) We fail to adapt, and the crusade becomes a path we don't have courage to change

Malcom X is in part respected because (as his legend goes), he demonstrated his awareness of these pitfalls, and sought during his final weeks (in his pilgrimage to Mecca) to transcend them.  The fact he made this attempt is in part what establishes him as a cultural martyr worth writing about decades after his assassination.   We don't know for sure how much more meaningful the change would have been, say compared to Bob Dylan's Christian conversion.  If Bob Dylan had been assassinated weeks after his discovery of Jesus Christ, (as a personal savior) he may have occupied a different role in our history than he does today.  And if Malcolm X had continued, we don't know how different he'd be from Bob Dylan today.

What the Malcolm X lightning rod does, in the end, is make it feel safer to be black.    If someone that outspoken lives and continues, all of us feel a little bit safer from the Holocausts of our nightmares.  When I defend the overseas export markets, the "Techs of Color", I'm fully aware there may be a Tawana (and by that I mean I have no idea), rather than the Morgan Freedman character of Unforgiven.   But when I say to the Anti-Export Watchdogs, who plea that they are small non-profit organizations and sniff that they are underdogs in my attacks, I quote Clint Eastwood again, as William Munny.

Little Bill Daggett: Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man!

Will Munny: Well, he should have armed himself if he's going to decorate his saloon with my friend.

The nice thing about e-waste blogging is that you can write so much as tongue in cheek.  The importance of the field has been exaggerated (compared to mining).  Yet recycling as an environmental endeavor has been under-sold, if you count the carbon, the avoided toxics from virgin smelting, the impact on species extinction, and the other harms of extraction.   The challenge of the lightning rod is not to become derivative, one-noted, and boring.

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