Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II is my kind of Christian (not that I am anywhere close to his moral stature – I mean he is the kind of Christian I can trust.) As the saying goes, he walks the talk. One of his favorite sayings is “Preaching is more than words,” meaning that the way we live our lives is the best kind of demonstration of what we believe; and he shows that in his own life by, just as Jesus did, spending it with the poor and the disenfranchised, and working to lift them up. So, when Dr. Barber speaks, I do my best to listen.
One thing which differentiates Dr. Barber from too many others claiming to be Christians is his deep respect for people’s faith, including the faith of those who worship differently from the way he does, and his ability to discuss that in terms which speak to those who don’t quite grasp it. At times it shames me that so many Americans care so little about Native Americans, and their faith, and in particular their religious attachment to their land. Not Dr. Barber. He “gets it.”
If a mining company wanted to tear down the Vatican to harvest the minerals underneath its soil, there would be a public outcry around the world. If an oil company wanted to build a drilling rig in the middle of Jerusalem, there would be protests far and wide. So why are these sacred tribal lands any different?
That quote is from an article about a battle which the San Carlos Apache tribe in Arizona has been fighting for three years, and in which time is running out. The land in question, in the Oak Flat area, includes places like Apache Leap and Devil’s Canyon. Time and time again, we – the United States – having made treaties with native Americans granting them land have tried to renege on the treaty, offering them land instead of “equal economic value.” The land we are offering is never of equal economic value to the land we are stealing in the first place, and, if it were, how would that justify destroying sacred places? But, here we go again:
In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated Oak Flat as an area off-limits to mining. However, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act authorized Resolution [Copper Co.] to use the land in Oak Flat in exchange for other lands in Arizona. This was supported by former Arizona senators, Jeff Flake and the late John McCain. The land Resolution wants to trade is scattered across the state and wouldn’t offer half the environmental and touristic value that Oak Flat currently holds. In addition to being sacred tribal land, Oak Flat is also a prime destination for climbers, hikers, and campers.
Resolution (a project of Rio Tinto) has been salivating over this project, as has Wilbur Ross, who has killing the regulations slowing down the project at the top of his “hit list.”
“A company shouldn’t have to be hundreds of millions of dollars into risk money without knowing whether there is a real chance it is going to get approved,” Ross told Reuters in a May 9[, 2017] interview, referring to [this] mine.
The project itself:
“There are mines this deep; there are mines this hot; and there are mines this big; but there are no other mines this deep, this hot and this big all together,” said Carl Hehnke, a geologist for Resolution.
At the time the article including those quotes (along with additional, terrifying statistics) was published, 130,000 comments from concerned citizens had been received by the government. But the comment period closed, and since then, as Dr. Barber points out, no one is talking about it. There’s just the San Carlos Apache tribe, the Arizona Mine Reform Coalition, and the Poor People’s Project of Repairers of the Breach – that’s all. There’s no petition (the comment period was supposed to take care of that), and who would be the petitionee? Wilbur Ross? Pffft.
There is the US Forest Service, of course –
If Resolution’s copper deposit had been discovered under private land – and not a national forest – Rio Tinto might have been spared the federal review and faced only state regulators. Instead, the U.S. Forest Service is leading the study, which will consider jobs, recreation, public health and wildlife.
It used to take seven to ten years for a mine to be approved. However, in January 2017, Republicans introduced a bill which would limit regulators to two and a half years to approve of reject a mine proposal. I’m guessing, since Dr. Barber says time is running out, that it passed.
Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, it looks like it will take a miracle to get this stopped. I hope you are well rested from your two weeks off, because you’ll need all the energy you can get.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 HERE.