Our politically correct social activists are at it again. During the last week in April
of this year, while rightly organizing and protesting against the Sudan-sponsored genocide in Darfur, they staged
a ‘die-in’ on the Boston Common to urge everyone to pressure Fidelity Investments to “end its relationship with
companies working in Sudan [i.e., Chinese owned oil companies]” (Ref. 1) and for
American individuals and organizations to divest from Fidelity.
Beyond Boston, “A national activist group [the Save Dafur Coalition] is planning to launch
a media blitz against Fidelity investments and Berkshire-Hathaway for their investments in companies doing business
with Sudan (Ref. 2).
Fidelity has investments in PetroChina [a Chinese company] which does business in Sudan.
A fidelity spokesman has stated that, “the firm is complying with all U.S. laws in regard to Sudan.”
First, let’s get something straight. I vigorously support the efforts to “save Dafur” and
I believe the way to do this is to destroy the Janjaweed and to vigorously punish the government of Sudan which
is supporting the murderers, rapists, and torturers that they have unleashed and continue to support in Dafur
(Ref. 3). In the last three years, an estimated 2 million people have been displaced, and reportedly between
200,000 and 400,000 people have died. In 2004, the U.S. Congress declared the trouble a “genocide”.
But I am totally turned off by the above-mentioned idealistic social activists who have opted for the simple
minded, but totally ineffective actions they are proposing. In point of fact, their position is counter-productive
and results in a total turn-off for me, similar to the outrageous and unacceptable actions or other radical
activist groups such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The current actions by the Save Dafur
Coalition constitute a blind “feel-good” desire to “do something” without any consideration of the possible
consequences or effectiveness of their actions.
These activists have focused their misguided actions on one American corporation that is
four or five times removed from the actual perpetrators of the crimes in Darfur. Let’s see where Fidelity fits in
the order of things.
The efforts of groups like the Save Dafur Coalition should be focused on those directly
responsible for the tragedy in Darfur. Why is it that radical Islamic fundamentalists can take up weapons for their
cause and go off to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq while these American egg-heads can only lie down on the Boston
Common or take out ads urging everyone to punish a reputable American company that is, at best, marginally
connected to the problem?
- the Janjaweed murderers,
- the Sudan government that supports the Janjaweed,
- the companies/governments that do business in/with Sudan and provide the money and arms for the Sudan
government to support the Janjaweed,
- organizations like Fidelity, college endowment funds, company pension funds, and union retirement funds
that may have investments in some of the companies that do business in/with Sudan and provide the money for
the Sudan government to support the Janjaweed.
Secondary Boycotts and Boycotts of Third and Fourth Parties
The actions of the Save Dafur Coalition in calling for a fourth party boycott of Fidelity
can be compared to the actions of a labor union that carries out a secondary boycott against a company.
According to Ref. 4:
“A secondary labor boycott is group's refusal to work for, purchase from, or handle the
products of a business with which the group has no dispute.
“A secondary boycott is an attempt to influence the actions of one business by exerting
pressure on another business. Labor unions are the most common practitioners of secondary boycotts. Typically a
labor union involved in a dispute with an employer will arrange a secondary boycott if less drastic measures to
reach a satisfactory accord with the employer have been ineffective. Secondary boycotts have two main forms: a
secondary consumer boycott, in which the union appeals to consumers to withhold patronage of a business, and a
secondary employee boycott, in which the union dissuades employees from working for a particular business.
“Generally a secondary boycott is considered an unfair labor practice when it is
organized by a labor union. Congress limits the right of labor unions to conduct secondary boycotts because such
activity is considered basically unfair and because it can have a devastating effect on . . . the general state of
“On the federal level, the right of a labor union to arrange a secondary boycott is
limited by the National Labor Relations Act. Under the National Labor Relations Act, no labor union may threaten,
coerce, or restrain any person engaged in commerce in order to force that person to cease doing business with any
Secondary boycotts by labor unions are illegal. What can we say about a fourth party
boycott by the Save Dafur Coalition ? If the supposed defenders of Darfur want to do something really productive,
let them get the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, China, Russia, the countries of Africa and
others to a) stop providing arms to Sudan, b) stop selling goods and services to Sudan, c) stop buying anything
from Sudan, d) intervene militarily to defeat and destroy the Janjaweed, and e) get the needed relief supplies and
humanitarian services into Darfur. While the crusade against Fidelity assuages the consciences of these arm-chair
do-gooders, it takes the focus away from real solutions and diverts attention from the real Dafur problem.
Some practical steps are being taken (but not by the Save Dafur Coalition). Calling the
human rights abuses in Sudan “intolerable,” Howard University’s Board of Trustees voted recently to cut off all
ties with companies doing business in the war-torn African nation (Ref. 5) The
resolution says the university will “bar investments in all companies doing business in the
Sudan” This type of policy calls for the divestment of any investments in companies, banks or
governments doing business with the offending nation and not with one selected fourth party that may
peripherally be investing in these companies, banks or governments.
Fortunately, in recent years, misguided divestment campaigns similar to that against
Fidelity which have attempted to pressure Harvard to return endowment money from the Bin Laden family and to stop
all investment in companies doing business with Israel have failed. Hopefully, so will this one.
U.S. companies are not legally allowed to work in Sudan in protest of the country’s human rights abuses.
However, foreign companies rushed into Sudan to fill the void, and they are much less receptive to U.S.
divestment campaigns and global calls for human rights violations. The primary companies targeted are the
Chinese oil and natural gas company PetroChina, the Swiss engineering company ABB and the Russian oil company
Tatneft. Instead of targeting Fidelity, why not go directly after these companies?
The Law of Unintended Consequences
What if the campaign against Fidelity were to succeed? Does anybody in the save Darfur
movement care what the consequences might be? Would they care if they drove Fidelity out of business? Would they
care about the American Fidelity work force that might be affected? Would they care about the consequences of
shutting off Sudan’s oil to China? Have they even thought about the downside effects of their actions? It’s
unlikely that they’ve thought through anything.
These people are only concerned with simple-minded feel-good reflex reactions to very
complex problems and situations. But, there are almost always unintended consequences to such simplistic
Africa Malaria Day, April 25th, commemorates the 1.2 million people lost each year to a
preventable and curable disease. Malaria is the biggest killer of African kids. Half a billion people suffer from
it annually, reducing economic productivity around the world. (Ref. 6) Why does
this disease continue to exist in the 21st century? The reason - social and environmental activists got the world
to ban DDT some 30-plus years a go. The result - Some 50 million or more people, primarily in third world
countries, have died of malaria and countless more millions have been sickened and incapacitated.
Finally, in spite of the continuing opposition of many environmental activists, several
African countries are now developing indoor residual spraying programs, some with DDT, a highly effective and safe
In 2005, President Bush launched the President's Malaria Initiative which has, among
other things, helped support the use of DDT in many African countries. Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM) is a
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that helped bring DDT back in spite of the activist opposition.
“Seven months after the World Health Organization reversed its deadly 30-year ban on the
use of DDT to fight malaria, the anti-DDT movement is up to its old tricks [opposing any use of DDT]”.
The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) believes that DDT should be used
to prevent deaths from malaria in African countries. According to U.N. estimates, malaria kills one child every 30
seconds and more than a million people each year. (Ref. 7)
AAEA believes that DDT should be used in African countries as it was in the United States
for decades until malaria is eradicated. Malaria must be eliminated and DDT is the best way to eliminate the
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) held a conference in New York in January 2004 to
address this issue, among others. The conference, titled, 'Eco-Imperialism: The Global Green Movement's
War On The Developing World's Poor.' CORE supports the use of DDT in African countries. CORE
spokesmen described how the traditional environmental movement is imposing the views of mostly wealthy, Americans
and Europeans on mostly poor Africans. Paul Driessen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death,
described how traditional environmental groups are "preventing needy nations from using the very technologies that
developed countries employed to become rich, comfortable and free of disease." Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace
and Greenspirit also supports these views. Conference moderator Deroy Murdock eloquently described how traditional
environmental groups perpetuate poverty and misery in developing countries through 'eco-centric' policies.
In 2000, says the World Health Organization (WHO) and other studies, malaria infected
over 300 million people. It killed nearly 2,000,000--most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Over half of the victims
are children, who die at the rate of two per minute or 3,000 per day. Since 1972, over 50 million people have died
from this dreaded disease.
Where DDT is used, malaria deaths plummet. Where it is not used, they skyrocket. For
example, in South Africa, the most developed nation on the continent, the incidence of malaria had been kept very
low (below 10,000 cases annually) by the careful use of DDT. But in 1996, environmentalist pressure convinced
program directors to cease using DDT. One of the worst epidemics in the country's history ensued, with almost
62,000 cases in 2000. Shortly after this peak, South Africa reintroduced DDT. In one year, malaria cases plummeted
by 80 percent. Next door, in Mozambique, which doesn't use DDT, malaria rates remain stratospheric. Similar
experiences have been recorded in Zambia and other African countries.
On September 15, 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a major policy change,
stating that it would now actively back the controversial pesticide DDT as a way to control malaria.
The WHO previously approved DDT for dealing with malaria, but didn't actively support it.
While DDT repels or kills mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite, it doesn't get much good press. In 1962,
environmentalist Rachel Carson wrote a book, Silent Spring, about how it persists in the environment and
affects not just insects but the whole food chain.
In the early 1960s, several developing countries had nearly wiped out malaria. After they
stopped using DDT, malaria came raging back and other control methods have had only modest success.
Arata Kochi, head of the WHO's anti-malaria campaign, made the move to bring back DDT.
His major effort at a news conference in Washington, D.C., was not so much to announce the change, but to
deflect potential opposition from environmental groups. "We are asking these environmental
groups to join the fight to save the lives of babies in Africa," Kochi said. "This is our call to them."
But some environmental groups continue to oppose the use of DDT, saying that spraying DDT
will be harmful.
Another example of the law of unintended consequences concerns nuclear power. The end of
April, 2007 was the 30th anniversary of actions by anti-nuclear groups to stop nuclear plant construction in the
U.S. (Ref. 9) The results of the actions of these activists in the mid-1970’s have
been to make the United States dependent upon unfriendly governments for our supplies of oil, to increase the cost
of gasoline to $3 or more per gallon, to contribute to global warming, and to increase atmospheric pollution from
hydrocarbon emissions into the atmosphere. Since the demonstrations by the Clamshell Alliance at the Seabrook
Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire, only 2 more nuclear power plants have been built in the U.S., despite the
warning flags raised by the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970’s. Despite the activists’ dire warnings of death and
destruction, the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant has been operating trouble-free from 1990. Interestingly, the founder
of the Clamshell Alliance continues to live just 2 miles from the plant with no reported ill effects, except for
the production of pollution-free electrical power that introduces no greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
But, the heck with the rest of us. More power to OPEC and the rest of the American haters.
Do you wonder why Asthma rates are skyrocketing in this country?
- Darfur die-in draws droves, Neal Simpson, Boston Herald, Page 5, April 30, 2007.
- National ads to hit Fidelity on Darfur, Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, Page 25,
May 1, 2007.
- Will the World Come to the Aid of the People of Darfur?, David Burton,
www.sonofeliyahu.com, March 5, 2007.
- Secondary Boycott, Law Encyclopedia, www.answers.com, May, 3 2007.
- Howard University First HBCU to Divest From Sudan, Christina Asquith,
Current News Web Site, April 1, 2007.
- Africa Fighting Malaria, April 23, 2007.
- DDT, Use It To Stop Deaths From Malaria In African Countries,
African American Environmentalist Association Web Site, May 1, 2007.
- WHO Backs Use of DDT Against Malaria, Joanne Silberner, All Things Considered,
September 15, 2006.
- Nuclear Reaction, Steven Rosenberg, Boston Sunday Globe, Pgs No 1 & 8,
April 29, 2007.