Eco-Fundamentalists 1: Joseph Benson, Tom Robinson, Willie Horton

If you are old enough to be surprised that Nigeria is #8 in the world in people connected to the Internet, then you are old enough to know who Tom Robinson was (the accused in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee) and old enough to know who Willie Horton was (scary escaped inmate in anti- Democratic ads run in the south in 1988 elections).

New FBI Director James Comey gave a very honest and provoking speech last week about "racism".  Better than any of my rants.   Two basic points stick out.

  1. The Police, historically, enforce the status quo.   That includes Jim Crow laws.   Cops were on the bad side of the firehose in civil rights marches.   That history brings with it some baggage which has to be addressed in the open.
  2. University research of human  psychology indicates that everyone has a certain distrust of the unfamiliar, probably through evolution.   Almost everyone, of all colors, has some subconscious racial distrust.   

What is unique about "e-waste" and the jailing of #FreeHurricaneBenson is that environmental police are reacting to the same kind of panicked finger-pointing described in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Eco Fundamentalists - the proponents of radical fundamentalist Basel Convention Amendment interpretations (that anything with a circuit board is "waste", even if the circuit board is being reused or repaired or electively upgraded) so believe in themselves, that their leader actually says "Joe Benson is collateral damage".  

Sure, and Tom Robinson was "collateral damage" in the war on rape.   Rape's such a horrible crime, that a "Willie Horton" description of Robinson is accepted for the protection of society.

These people say that "OECD" is sancrosanct, and that when it comes to reuse and repair and recycling, the people in the OECD must boycott people who are not in the OECD.   Recall that even Japan was not originally admitted to the OECD.

"Don't let your daughters cross the tracks of West Memphis."

I love Memphis.   It's on the front lines of integration and segregation, musically and culturally.  It also has a high murder rate, drug dealers, and sexual assault.    But damn people, don't exaggerate sh*t.  Memphis is integrated, and changing, and is something America should be proud of.

Environmentalists are generally an intelligent, educated and socially liberal bunch.   And I prefer their company to ignorance.   But as Hans Rosling points out in his TED talk, chimpanzees will better predict (randomly) the difference in electricity and progress and vaccinations and literacy in the poorest part of the world than journalists or educated westerners.

China is #1 in number of internet users, by the way.    The Eco-Fundamentalists describe China with "rice paddies", describe Africa as "shanty towns".   All the places you'd fear your laptop would go.  Just like they'd describe the neighborhood where your white daughter might go to dance in 1950's, when my relatives in the Ozark Mountains were listening to music from Memphis.

I truly loved and admired many "racists" I grew up with in the Ozarks.  That doesn't mean I admire or excuse their racism.   It means I can see people for what they can do, not for what they cannot do.  I can see scared, uneducated people.   And I can look in the mirror and imagine just how scared and uneducated I will seem to a grandchild, or great grandchild, in the future.   I can understand the generosity that the culture shared, the hard work, and understand the firehose of snobbery the hillbillies endured.   My wife is constantly asked to explain how she came to marry someone from Arkansas, and offers that I was born in Massachusetts to shut them up.   My parents moved there to marry, had me, and moved back to Missouri before I was 1 year old, but to some that allows the stigma to live on in their imaginations.

Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, INTERPOL and Blacksmith Institute are the real "collateral damage" in the #freehurricanebenson debate.   Like James Comey, they need a coming-to-Jesus moment over #e-waste accusations.   They have been following an admitted liar, who makes it up as he goes along, does not know what he's talking about, and refers to the Chinese technicians as "rice paddy" workers and to Africans nerds as "Shantytown" dwellers.  The Geeks of Color, the Tinkerers, the Fixers, are the very, very best thing about the emerging markets.   Without people like Joe Benson, Nigeria would not be #8 in internet access, and I would not be Facebook friends with Shaba Khamba, or retweeting youtube videos of Nneka's Soul is Heavy.

"Teach me lies"

Africa has very serious environmental crimes, such as endangered species poaching, illegal timbering, conflict metal mining, and dumpers like Trafigura.   Just as Memphis has serious crime problems.   False accusations against Tom Robinson and Joseph Benson must be excised immediately and cleanly, and a price must be paid by Eco Fundamentalists engaged in Environmental Malpractice and Accidental Racism.

The buck stops here.

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