Diamonds aren't forever?

Anyone seen "Blood Diamond"?

I haven't, but something about the timing of the film (Christmas, Kanye West) makes me suspect it's a thinly disguised attack on the diamond industry. Not that I'm an advocate for the DeBeers family any more than I'm an advocate for WAL-MART, but there's always something about piecemeal activist attacks on certain targets or industries that tends to fool people into giving into "just this" demand, which leads activists to make another demand. (As if removing the Robert E. Lee street signs will not lead to bolder demands -- like taking the "slaveowner" off our currency.) The apparent focus on "single issues" is misleading, but that's the way activism works. (And why activists win.)

It didn't take me long to discover that coalitions of leftists are calling for a boycott of all diamonds (with some on the right replying). The attempt to make diamonds "unfashionable" strikes me as manipulative, and reminds me of the animal rights activists campaign against mink coats. Considering that Israel is the leading producer of cut diamonds, I suspect a built in appeal to smug leftist cheapskates who harbor a carefully dissembled dislike of Jews.

Or for that matter, a not so carefully dissembled dislike:

Many people are angry about Israel's crimes but feel helpless and don't know what to do. One important thing to do is to never buy a diamond. Israel is the world's leading exporter of cut, polished diamonds. They import the rough diamonds from countries like South Africa, Sierra Leone, Angola, and cut them by machine in Tel Aviv or other parts of Israel. These polished diamonds are then sold to the rest of the world, mainly to the U.S., and they make up a huge portion of Israel's economy from exports, estimated by some to make up one third of their total exports.

From a local (Philadelphia) demonstration called "Day of Action Against Diamond Industry," here's a picture of someone who's so, so right on!


What a pity that she's hiding her hand behind the sign, because I can't see whether there's a diamond on her finger.

But the ironies abound. Not all black Africans are happy as you might think. I enjoyed Nelson Mandela's take:

[Mandela] sent a letter to Alan F. Horn, the president of Warner Brothers, and the director Edward Zwick, saying it would be "deeply regrettable" if "Blood Diamond" led to the "destabilization of African diamond producing countries."
I think I'll defend capitalism by boycotting the film.

"Casino Royale" might be a better choice.

posted by Eric on 12.05.06 at 09:52 AM


While I've never been a big fan of vanity in general, I hope these people do realize that diamonds serve an important purpose in industry...

bellisaurius   ·  December 5, 2006 10:45 AM

Are you kidding? The blood diamonds movement has very little to do with Israel and everything to do with allowing Africans to retain the profits from the suffering they go through to cultivate their natural resources. Companies like DeBeers will have you believe that in allowing Africans to retain a majority of the control in how diamonds are polished and cut (this being where the real profit lies) is an attack on Israel or Belgium, another major polisher/cutter. The fact is this business practice is exploitation in the name of commerce.

nappywun   ·  December 5, 2006 11:21 AM

The question I have is how these people have managed to twist the issue from the inhumane and unscrupulous practices of 'revolutionaries' to the legitimate industry. The issue is not that Africans are forbidden from cutting diamonds, but that some Africans use diamonds and terror in the furtherance of political and military conflicts. Small-minded activism does here what it always does, namely imagines the problem to lie with 'the West.'

If Western greed were the real issue, if all diamonds really were 'blood diamonds,' then it wouldn't matter whether Africans or Israelis cut them.

If the 'revolutionaries' were allowed to mine and cut their own diamonds they'd be better able to fuel their genocidal war machines. Is that what the activists really want?

I doubt it. They seem to see the issue, as most activists do, through a very distorting lens.

Dennis   ·  December 5, 2006 12:51 PM

actually, blood diamonds refer to the diamonds that were sold to fund the murderous civil war in Sierra Leone.
I have no idea if the movie is about that war, however.
This is not the same as South African diamonds, which are mined by fairly well paid miners, often who come from neighboring countries to make money to support their poor families.
De Beer's only "sin" is to artificially keep the price of diamonds high by restricting the number of diamonds they release to the market each year.

Nancy Reyes   ·  December 6, 2006 6:49 AM

I was trying to decide what to buy my wife for Christmas this year, and now I know. She's getting a diamond!

Occasional Lurker   ·  December 7, 2006 6:56 AM

You don't have to just suspect, Eric. Those behind the movie are stating that is the entire point:

I had zero interest in seeing this film before I knew this. The trailer is so melodramatic and self-serious as to be laughable. Now that I know this is purely a "message movie" that does not actually exist for the sake of its own story or drama, I have less than zero interest, i.e., I will actively discourage others from trying to see it.

Scott   ·  December 8, 2006 1:58 PM

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