Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I guess diamonds ARE forever

Thank you Fritz for that enlightening article.

Mr. Oppenheimer says "With the way the world is changing, with the growing awareness of the vulnerability of human beings, there is an increased desire to show a commitment to one's loved ones, and diamonds are uniquely placed among products that are able to capture that feeling." Does anyone take him seriously knowing that he views the world so shallowly? Perhaps he doesn't view the world this way...perhaps it's cleverly placed self-promotion that plays upon our fears of terrorism and uncertainty. Now either view leaves a particularly bad taste in my mouth.

To think I almost bought his sincerity concerning Apartheid too, with this line:

""To cause those who used to be disadvantaged to have a competitive advantage over those who are currently advantaged - it really is at the heart of what we are doing in South Africa"

But then he goes on to say:

It is "more about sticks and carrots," he says in the interview. "As long as you have sticks you will have people trying to work out how to comply at the minimum cost." Rather, he says, there should be corporate tax breaks as a reward for empowerment.

Are you kidding me? The audacity. White priveledge in that country has caused so much harm to black communities, and he thinks companies should be rewarded for empowering? Lest he (and we) forget how well "carrot and stick" incentives worked in South Africa, we can be reminded here:

http://brookings.nap.edu/books/0815733550/html/95.html

or even here:

http://www.boston.com/globe/search/stories/nobel/1984/1984c.html

Oppenheimer's comments show that the same mind set which supported Apartheid is alive and well.

I loved this quote too:

After initial resistance, De Beers played a prominent part in a campaign to outlaw "blood diamonds" - as conflict diamonds are sometimes called - and insists its new strategy is a departure from its cartel-like practices.

The campaign against blood diamonds, Oppenheimer says, is "nothing but good for the diamond industry" because it "identifies and drives out" tainted stones.

How convinient that fighting againts blood diamonds also happens to reduce De Beers competition. Yes, I know that's terribly cynical, but the history of white power in South Africa demands a much greater body of proof that its intentions are just and good.

As a final note, I rather enjoyed the little asides about Oppenheimer's family life, his kids, his struggle to play cricket. Nice touch. It almost gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, like he was just a regular joe.




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