Protecting ‘sacred’ lands as part of ‘managed decline’

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By Duggan Flanakin 

It is increasingly clear that the Biden Administration’s minerals policy will tighten China and Russia’s grip on America’s declining future. On August 8, Biden permanently banned new uranium mining claims on nearly a million acres of the nation’s largest deposits of uranium ore by creating the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona.

The move follows Biden’s creation in March of the Avi Kwa Ame National Park in Nevada, an action that removed 514,000 acres of lithium-rich public lands. Both these actions are touted as honoring Native American sacred sites in a nation that claims not to have a state religion. But we must assuage our guilt over centuries of slavery and genocide long in our past – and at the expense of our common future.

Only about 240 members of the 640-member Havasupai Tribe, the chief advocates for creating the monument, live on the 188,000-acre Havasupai Reservation in the Grand Canyon region. A number of small tribal groups claim the Avi Kwa Ame area as among the most sacred places on Earth. The national park and national monument designations may bring more tourists but bar any exploitation of the areas’ vital mineral resources.

Meanwhile, China “honors” its Uyghurs and other ethnically Turkic Muslim peoples by forcing them into hard labor at its own lithium mines that dishonor Uyghur “sacred sites.” Genocide is just fine when it is half a planet away. None of our business (remember the South Africa boycotts?).

According to the BBC, “Human rights groups believe China has detained more than one million Uyghurs against their will over the past few years in a large network of what the state calls “re-education camps” and sentenced hundreds of thousands to prison terms.” Uyghur women are reportedly sterilized and raped.

The BBC also reports that China had (as of 2021) had detained over a thousand mostly Uyghur clerics and thrown over 300 of them into prison, banned religious practices in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, destroyed mosques and tombs, and taken other steps to erase Uyghur culture.

Chinese companies are also “honoring” the presumed “sacred sites” of the mostly Christian Congolese and their ancestral faiths by forcing children as young as eight years old to work in horrific conditions to extract cobalt for Chinese-made electric vehicles. But perhaps African never had any “sacred sites.”

The British newspaper The Guardian reports that, over the past 15 years, Chinese companies have gained control of the majority of DRC cobalt and copper mines – and that, “with this change, Congolese workers, say, has come abuse, discrimination and racism.”

One Congolese worker complained that, “We feel humiliated and embarrassed. The way they are treating our people, you can’t believe. We are just expecting them to have respect for human life, instead of using people like slaves.”

Neither the Uyghurs nor the Congolese have seen any share of the massive profits the Chinese are extracting from these “stolen lands.” Instead, the Uyghurs are demeaned, their schools and institutions assaulted, and their families abased.

In the DRC, CDM, the Chinese-owned company that supplies cobalt to Renault and Daimler claims it is building and renovating schools and providing water and electricity to local villages. But one villager who dared speak up scoffed that, “There is no drinking water, no electricity, no school, no healthcare. Our community is right next to CDM, but they don’t do anything for us.”

In Zimbabwe, a Chinese company earlier this year began a campaign to displace hundreds of Mutoko villagers from their ancestral lands to facilitate construction of yet another lithium mine.

In a 2021 report, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in London reported 181 accusations of human rights violations related to Chinese investments in Africa from 2013 to 2020, mostly in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the DRC. Africans commonly complain about the paltry wages and lack of safety equipment on Chinese-run construction sites.

But it gets worse.

After learning that a shocking video of Namibian children chanting “I am a black monster and my IQ is low” appeared on a popular Chinese social media site, BBC Africa Eye reporters Runako Celina and Henry Mhango uncovered a growing industry of Chinese “poverty porn” videos showing African children as “commodities that could be made to sing and dance for profit.”

China, they learned, has its own version of “Stepin Fetchit.”

None of these revelations seems to bother the Biden Administration, which “rewarded” China by ceding control of Afghanistan’s Bagram Airport in 2021 to the Taliban, which recently announced it would turn the airport into a special economic zone likely dominated by its Chinese neighbors.

Biden had earlier canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, imposed mandates for China-dominated electric vehicles, and taken numerous other actions that weaken America’s energy and manufacturing sectors.

scathing report in Thte Hill announced that “Biden is quietly dismantling, brick by brick, the Trump Administration’s (tough on) China policy without drawing attention to it.” While many of the Trump-imposed tariffs continue, Biden’s response to the Chinese spy balloons, purchases of land near U.S. military bases, and other adversarial actions (notably in the South China Sea) indicate an apparent ceding of world hegemony to Xi Jinpeng and the Chinese Communist Party.

As Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed in a recent speech, China “poses the most serious long-term challenge to the international order … [and] … is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it.” So why not hasten that day along?

After all, the Biden family has reportedly been well paid by Chinese (and other) “influencers” for unknown services rendered. But perhaps China’s ascendancy is but a byproduct of following the Obama Administration’s “perfect plan for the economic decline of America,” as Peter Ferrara wrote in a 2012 op-ed in Forbes.

A year earlier, Eric Laursen, in the HuffPost, had defined “managed decline” as “the devolution of a society into a starkly divided hierarchy of elites and dead-enders, even as more and more of that society’s treasure is expended on propping up a doomed imperial regime inside and outside its borders.”

Such domestic policies – that increase debt, strangle entrepreneurship, and focus on trivia to distract from declining educational, ethical, and other standards necessary for high-performing societies – often need to create “feel good” moments to survive reality.

Thus, to Joe Biden and the so-called “green” movement (much of which embraces decline), protecting Native American “sacred” sites (which likely cover the entirety of the North and South American continents) is far more important than protecting the lives of millions of living people from the same kinds of torment that Americans once unleashed on its own indigenous (and enslaved) populations.

After all, saving the world is no longer part of the American agenda. America today is hardly the “shining city u[on a hill” President Reagan described in his farewell address.

Neither is ensuring the long-term prosperity of this nation and its children, who today (like those in Namibia) are seen more as commodities to be exploited for short-term gain and pleasure.

May as well bankrupt this country and return it to the Native Americans — and surrender our future to the “far superior” Chinese.


This article originally appeared at Town Hall


Duggan Flanakin is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.

A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas.

A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, “Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout.”