The Washington Post isn’t afraid to denounce racism, when it suits it. For example:
- Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.
- Donald Trump is a racist conspiracy theorist. Don’t let him lie his way out of it.
- Yes, half of Trump supporters are racist.
This morning, the front page of their website admirably guilt-tripped all of its readers: “This is where your smartphone battery begins“.
Thousands of miners in this remote landscape in southern Africa dig by hand. Children, too. They’re searching for cobalt, a key mineral in lithium-ion batteries. In many ways, the current Silicon Valley gold rush — from mobile devices to laptops to driverless cars — is built on the power of these batteries. But it comes at an exceptional cost.
It’s strange, though. The story has more than 5000 words, and not one of them is “racism”. This is the closest it comes to saying “colonialism”:
Yet 60 percent of the world’s cobalt originates in Congo — a chaotic country rife with corruption and a long history of foreign exploitation of its natural resources. A century ago, companies plundered Congo’s rubber sap and elephant tusks while the country was a Belgian colony. Today, more than five decades after Congo gained its independence, it is minerals that attract foreign companies.
It’s worded so that the chaos and corruption are somehow distinct from the plunder (niggers can’t self-govern). It’s not that our companies do evil things to people, it’s that minerals attract foreign companies (it’s like magnetism). It’s not that we send nigger children into the bowels of the Earth so that we can play Pokemon Go at the Holocaust Museum. Really, it’s the Chinese people. They promised our companies the cobalt was sourced from the land of unicorns and rainbows, nowhere else. Who can blame our companies for believing those wily Asians?
Most Tesla models use batteries from Panasonic, which buys cobalt from Southeast Asia and Congo. Replacement batteries for Tesla are manufactured by LG Chem. Tesla told The Post it knows LG Chem’s Tesla batteries do not contain Congolese cobalt, but it did not say how it knows this.
Tesla, more than any other automaker, has staked its reputation on “ethically sourcing” every piece of its celebrated vehicles.
“It is something we do take very seriously,” Kurt Kelty, Tesla’s director of battery technology, said in March at a battery conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “And we need to take it even more seriously. So we are going to send one of our guys there.”
Six months later, Tesla told The Post it is still working on sending someone to Congo.
That’s Todd Frankel’s hard-hitting reporting on Tesla. Their vehicles are celebrated, also by him in the Washington Post:
This freewheeling approach is what has made Tesla the favored brand of technologists. Sebastian Thrun, the former co-creator of Google’s self-driving car program, drives a Tesla. He told me he enjoys autopilot when I caught up with him in San Francisco last fall. But, he said, clearly autopilot is a work in progress.
“It’s a beautiful feature,” Thrun said. “I love it. It’s just not quite as good as the Google feature.”
But at least Tesla’s you can drive today – and drive it almost anywhere.
And it feels like magic.
That comes from the 12 ultrasonic sensors circling the Tesla Model S P90D, plus a front-facing radar and a camera mounted by the rearview mirror. These are the driver’s substitute. They allow the car to automatically follow traffic and avoid accidents, stay in its lane, even change lanes. The Tesla also can park itself in parallel or perpendicular parking spaces, in addition to the Summon feature.
If Tesla is more responsible than most for the ultra-violence capitalism does to Congo, Todd Frankel is more responsible than most, as a member of their PR team. However, Todd Frankel’s cell phone is more innocent than Donald Trump’s.
— Todd C. Frankel (@tcfrankel) September 30, 2016
He goes out of his way not to reach the obvious conclusion: all of us are racist, because our actions endorse child slavery in Congo (but not here). We’re hurting people.
As expected, white “progressives” like Jill Stein think better batteries (“renewable energy storage”) are an important part of the Green New Economy we need for social justice.
This type of reporting is insidious. Deeply disturbing information is presented to the reader, but somehow they’re spared any guilt feelings. The corporations will figure out their arcane engineering problems and live up to their press releases, and we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about it. Isn’t it great that we’re not black and we don’t live in Africa?
Frankel’s Facebook page calls the story a “stunning presentation,” in the sense that the web designers did a good job. I started the day reading the story on my phone, then moved to my laptop to write this post. I was personally a little bit annoyed at the auto-playing audio/video. I’m trying to listen to music here!