Congo's Conflict Minerals: Protestors Mixed Messages


". . .boycotting Apple is apparently the protester's call to action."

The DC-based advocacy group Enough! Project is calling on consumers to raise awareness around the fact that their beloved electronics contain the "3Ts" (tin, tungsten, and tantalum) as well as gold, all rare earth minerals that are illegally mined in the Congo, where profits go to "armed groups…that regularly commit conscious-shocking atrocities as they jockey to control the region's most valuable mines." A worthy cause? Of course. One only has to watch videos such as this to realize how heartbreaking and dire the situation is. But the Enough! Project's public face and actions are quite different from what their actual research report promotes, and our question is: what's the real message here?

When I first read Nicholas Kristof's article The New York Times, entitled Death by Gadget, I have to admit that I was skeptical. While I in absolutely no way wish to diminish the horrendous situation in the Congo surrounding the mining and exportation of conflict minerals, I do feel that some members of our society have a tendency to jump onto a bandwagon or latch onto a cause for the sake of having an opinion rather than actually caring about or fully researching the issue in question. Taking this into consideration, look at this video where this side of Enough! Project is prevalent. Forgive the stereotype, but this video to me represents a bunch of "hippie-dippie" kids who are working their first job out of college in DC and acting as conduits for a garbled message—largely blowing hot air to a crowd that vaguely listens, but isn't dissuaded into boycotting Apple products, which is the apparently the call to action by the protesters. These kids seem to have no real knowledge or insight about the corporations on the other side, how deeply their supply chains would be affected by a flat-out boycott, and how exceedingly difficult it would be to re-source their entire metals base.

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