With the recent news of Newmont Chair Wayne ‘Dirty’ Murdy getting a humanitarian award despite the mining company’s numerous human rights violations, and the outrage it has generated, in some of this coverage our own blog has received attention.
From the blog of Al Lewis, who wrote an article giving fair time to activist criticisms of Newmont:
Some of these activist complaining about Newmont are reasonable. Some are not. Like the Anti-Imperialist Movement of Denver (sic), which refers to Albright as a “mass murdering lunatic hiding behind the ‘legitimacy’ of the United Snakes.”…(I guess, being a proud American, this makes me a snake, too. Slither. Slither.) (1)
First of all, Lewis can’t even get the name of the group right, the “Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement of Denver.” For making an accusation that we are “unreasonable” he should at least get our name right! And in being unreasonable about Newmont, he focuses on what we said about Madeleine Albright.
This is in reference to when she was UN Ambassador, in a widely quoted remark on 60 minutes, where she responded that even though the sanctions killed 500,000 children they were ultimately “worth it.” A year later she was confirmed as Secretary of State under Clinton, which continued genocidal sanctions imposed on the people of Iraq. She sort-of apologized for the statement in her memoir “Madam Secretary”, but that apology was hardly adequate.(2)
Two days after Al Lewis’ snide comment, the main Public Relations guy of Newmont wrote in, and here’s what he had to say:
Deserving of DU award?
Re: “Not all that glitters is good,” Aug. 5 Al Lewis column
I believe your readers should judge for themselves if Newmont Chairman Wayne Murdy is deserving of the University of Denver’s International Bridge Builders Award. The stated purpose of the award is to recognize people who have “distinguished themselves as builders of ties between Colorado and the world beyond our national frontiers.”
As such, I invite your readers to visit our 2006 sustainability report at: http://www.BeyondTheMine.com. This report is compiled as part of our ongoing obligations under the United Nations’ Global Compact (www.unglobalcompact.org) and in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative’s guidelines(www.globalreporting.org). In addition, World
Monitors Inc. (www.worldmonitors.com) provides independent assurance of the objectivity, materiality and credibility of the report.
Also, I invite your readers to visit the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement of Denver’s Web page describing why they think Wayne Murdy should not receive the award: http://raimd.wordpress.com/2007/08/05/pre-tcd-2-for-1/
Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations
Newmont Mining Corporation
Mr Jabara urges people to judge for themselves whether Wayne Murdy should be honored for “building bridges,” while he gives a link to Newmont’s whitewash website and at the same time he urges people to visit RAIM-D on what we think about Wayne Murdy.
It would be a great stretch to think that Newmont’s PR department would want people to get into revolutionary politics. Rather both Lewis and Jabara are engaged in classic PR tactics against radical activists. Here is an article from Covert Action Quarterly(4) that describes these tactics:
Ronald Duchin, senior vice-president of another PR spy firm Mongoven, Biscoe, and Duchin …. A graduate of the US Army War College, Duchin worked as a special assistant to the secretary of defense and director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars before becoming a flack. Activists, he explained, fall into four categories: radicals, opportunists, idealists, and realists. He follows a three-step strategy to neutralize them: 1) isolate the radicals; 2) cultivate the idealists and educate them into becoming realists; then 3) co-opt the realists into agreeing with industry.
According to Duchin, radical activists:
want to change the system; have underlying socio/political motives [and] see multinational corporations as inherently evil….These organizations do not trust the… federal, state and local governments to protect them and to safeguard the environment. They believe, rather, that individuals and local groups should have direct power over industry. … I would categorize their principal aims right now as social justice and political empowerment.
The article continues:
“Idealists are also hard to deal with. They want a perfect world and find it easy to brand any product or practice which can be shown to mar that perfection as evil. Because of their intrinsic altruism, however, and because they have nothing perceptible to be gained by holding their position, they are easily believed by both the media and the public, and sometimes even politicians. However, idealists have a vulnerable point. If they can be shown that their position in opposition to an industry or its products causes harm to others and cannot be ethically justified, they are forced to change their position…. Thus, while a realist must be negotiated with, an idealist must be educated. Generally this education process requires great sensitivity and understanding on the part of the educator.”
Opportunists and realists, says Duchin, are easier to manipulate. Opportunists engage in activism seeking visibility, power, followers and, perhaps, even employment. … The key to dealing with [them] is to provide them with at least the perception of a partial victory. And realists are able to live with trade-offs; willing to work within the system; not interested in radical change; pragmatic. [They] should always receive the highest priority in any strategy dealing with a public policy issue. … If your industry can successfully bring about these relationships, the credibility of the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be counted on to share in the final policy solution.
By bringing attention to RAIM-D and labeling us “unreasonable,” they are first attempting to isolate the radicals. The rest of the strategy dealing with the idealists and realists is with their “social responsibility” facade.
Newmont Mining and companies like it exploit the resources of the Third World for profit. Newmont itself has left a trail of ecological destruction in places like Peru(5), Indonesia(6), Ghana(7) and in the Western Shoshone nation(8) Despite how badly Al Lewis and Newmont’s Public Relations hack would like to portray this as a RAIM-Denver vs. Newmont issue, those with brains know that it is not the real issue. The real issue is between Newmont and the affected populations. While Newmont enriches itself and raises its credibility amongst amerikans, the people of Peru, Indonesia, Ghana and the Shoshone nation remain in poverty and are often times poisoned by such operations.
The main opposition to Newmont Mining and companies like it are not First World radicals but rather the people they oppress. RAIM-Denver isn’t going to chase Wayne Murdy down with sticks and rocks, but Newmont employees have met similar opposition from the local population of places where they do business. (9) Radicals, on the other hand, whole heartedly stand up with and lend support to the struggles of oppressed peoples.
In the case of this particular protest, even without Al Lewis and Omar Jabara mentioning RAIM-Denver, it is unlikely many “realists” or “opportunists” will show up. Instead, Lewis and Newmont’s PR puppet gave more publicity to us and this protest than otherwise would have been received. For our part, we’re going to be working overtime to promote this protest and we’ll be putting in an extra effort to radicalize the idealists once they are there.