Grassroot Perspective – July 15, 2003-Eco-Colonialists (and Tsetse Flies) Out of Africa; The New York Times Syndrome; Enron and the SAT

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Eco-Colonialists (and Tsetse Flies) Out of Africa

In the decades since they won independence from European colonial
powers, Africans have been subjected to a subtle form of
neo-colonialism from an overlooked source: the conservation movement.
Under the banner of saving the African environment, local populations
have been displaced and impoverished — in large part because Western
conservationists misunderstand African wildlife management practices
and problems.

In an outstanding article in the new summer issue of THE INDEPENDENT
REVIEW, Robert H. Nelson examines eco-colonialism in Africa and makes
some startling discoveries.

For example, in 1988 in Tanzania — a nation often considered to be
among Africa’s most enlightened — the Department of Wildlife
forcibly removed livestock and settlers from the Mkomazi Game
Reserve, although the area had been used by humans as a livestock
range for perhaps centuries or millennia. World conservation
organizations claimed that the Mkomazi area was one of the
zoologically richest savannas in Africa. In reality, its mammal
populations were not extraordinary, and its wild mammals seemed to
share habitat with domesticated livestock successfully.

However, the conservation groups’ “wild Africa” campaign for the
Mkomazi reserve — which drew heavily on the myth of an Eden
“unspoiled” by human hands — did manage to raise lots of money and
force out most of the area’s long-standing human populations.

Similarly, much of Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, a national park
half the size of Ohio, had also been largely cleared of settlers and
livestock. What conservationists failed to appreciate was that the
livestock had continuously cleared the area’s thick brush, making it
more hospitable to a variety of flora and fauna. After the area was
cleared, not only did the thick brush return, so did the deadly
tsetse fly.

“If the Selous appears today to be ‘wild Africa,’ it is really the
product of extermination and removal of its peoples by deliberate
European strategy in the twentieth century,” writes Nelson.

Fortunately, there are signs of a more humane — and effective —
wildlife policy on the horizon. “Indeed, for at least a decade
international conservationists based for the most part in southern
and eastern Africa have led a strong movement for community-based
natural resource management (CBNRM),” according to Nelson.

“The CBNRM advocates have argued that successful wildlife
conservation requires the assistance of local African populations and
have emphasized the importance of local economic benefits in order to
create positive incentives for the protection of wildlife. The
efforts of such African conservationists, however, have often been
undermined by their European and American counterparts.”

See “Environmental Colonialism: ‘Saving’ Africa from Africans,” by
Robert H. Nelson (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 2003)

For more on environmental policy, see

– The New York Times Syndrome

The Jayson Blair scandal may be just the tip of the politically
correct iceberg at the NEW YORK TIMES. For years, the TIMES “has been
a vehicle for political correctness in both subtle and blatant ways,”
writes Independent Institute research fellow Wendy McElroy in her
latest column at

McElroy charges the TIMES with ideological bias at three levels:

1) Hiring and retention. Apart from Blair, hiring decisions at the
TIMES took “diversity” not to mean ideological diversity, or
diversity of expertise, but diversity within politically correct
victims groups, often at the expense of males.

2) Story selection. The TIMES ran a long, admiring article
identifying Los Angeles plastic surgeon Patrick Chavis, an
African-American, as a good example of the benefit of affirmative
action, but it never reported later cases of Chavis botching
operations and losing his license.

3) Books reviewed. The TIMES reviews every book by Marilyn French and
Andrea Dworkin, whom one former NOW speaker, Warren Farrell, calls
“man-haters,” but it systematically ignores books taking an opposite

“The TIMES is no longer a player on any team that values truth,
accuracy, or men,” McElroy concludes. “The Old Gray Lady is like the
Old Gray Mare … she ain’t what she used to be. Putting her to pasture
would be a kindness.”

See “The Anti-Male New York Times,” by Wendy McElroy (

LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century,
edited by Wendy McElroy

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

Below are excerpts from David Lebedoff’s upcoming book, The Red and the
Blue, that appear in the Spring issue of American Experiment Quarterly.
The book examines the effects on our society of what he calls the “New
Elite.” These excerpts deal with the impact of the New Elite on
traditional concepts of morality. David Lebedoff is a Minneapolis
attorney and writer. The complete excerpt can be found at

Enron and the SAT

By David M. Lebedoff

“McKinsey [& Company] is in the business of hiring the best of the
brightest, those intrepid climbers who dwell atop Everest and have
nowhere left to look but down. The largest corporations in the land from
their base camps send for help and from on high the most gifted descend
to advise, to solve, to awe, to heal, and then to ascend again to the
lofty peak that lesser mortals will never attain.

“Writing in The New Yorker (July 22, 2002), Malcolm Gladwell, in an
article correctly titled ‘The Talent Myth: Are Smart People Overrated?’
notes that ‘of all [McKinsey’s] clients, one firm took the talent
mind-set closest to heart. It was a company where McKinsey conducted
twenty separate projects, where McKinsey’s billings topped $10 million a
year, where a McKinsey director regularly attended board meetings, and
where the CEO himself was a former McKinsey partner. The company, of
course, was Enron.

“‘The one Enron partner that has escaped largely unscathed is McKinsey,
which is odd, given that it essentially created the blueprint for the
Enron culture. Enron was the ultimate “talent” company…During the
’90s, Enron was bringing in two hundred and fifty newly minted M.B.A.’s
a year. “We had these things called Super Saturdays,” one former Enron
manager recalls. I’d interview some of these guys who were fresh out of
Harvard, and these kids could blow me out of the water. They knew things
I’d never heard of”….

“‘The management of Enron, in other words, did exactly what the
consultants at McKinsey said that companies had to do in order to
succeed in the modern economy. It hired and rewarded the very best and
the very brightest — and it is now in bankruptcy.'”

“One of the highpoints of Gladwell’s excellent article is his
description of an experiment conducted by Carol Dweck, a psychologist at
Columbia University. ‘Dweck gave a class of preadolescent students a
test filled with challenging problems. After they were finished, one
group was praised for its effort and another group was praised for its
intelligence. Those praised for their intelligence were reluctant to
tackle difficult tasks, and their performance on subsequent tests soon
began to suffer. Then Dweck asked the children to write a letter to
students at another school, describing their experience in the study.
She discovered something remarkable: 40 percent of those students who
were praised for their intelligence lied about how they had scored on
the test, adjusting their grade upward. They weren’t naturally deceptive
people, and they weren’t any less intelligent or self-confident that
anyone else. They simply did what people do when they are immersed in an
environment that celebrates them solely for their innate “talent.” They
began to define themselves by that description, and when times get tough
and that self-image is threatened they have difficulty with the
consequences. They will not take the remedial course. They will not
stand up to investors and the public and admit that they were wrong.
They’d sooner lie.’ (Emphasis added.)

“With very few exceptions, brilliant people, particularly the
consultants and watchdogs, failed to do their jobs. They failed not
because they lacked the technical skills for supervision. Their failure
was moral. The problem was not lack of regulation but rather the moral
vacuity of the regulators.

“Put as simply as possible, they cared only about what technically was
legal or illegal, and never thought about what was right or wrong.
Because unless they were lucky in their parentage, no one had ever
taught them right from wrong. After all, it isn’t something you can
quantify. It isn’t something you can memorize.

“Because the thing about right and wrong is that the distinction between
them is (in their view) subjective. And an entire generation has been
taught to give a pass to subjectivity. They’ve been trained to suspend
judgment. Often they’ve been told that there is no such thing as right
or wrong — it’s all subjective. Different people have different views,
and all must be respected. Respect for other people’s views is one
thing. Saying that all views are morally equal is another. There is such
a thing as objective morality, but that’s out of fashion now. Instead,
students are taught the really frightening doctrine of moral relativism,
which has caused them to believe that concepts of right and wrong have
little or no meaning.”

“At this point, various educators and college admissions officers are
indignant. Of course they think morality is important. They demand it of
students. But what they really demand is evidence of morality.
Quantitative evidence: how many hours per week did you spend helping
those less fortunate than yourself? Everybody who answers this question
turns out to be very, very moral. Their high schools, with an eye to
college admissions officers, require a certain number of hours of worthy
work among the needy, and the students, with the same but far more
zealous competitive motive, serve coffee in the old-folks home (though
many wouldn’t think of phoning their own grandparents — you don’t get
admissions points for that, and anyway there’s always a big exam to be
studied for). Presumably some of those who overlooked Enron’s failings
had also accumulated a zillion hours of well-documented community
service. And had written essays in which they declared their role model
to be Mother Theresa. They were just doing what they’ve always done:

“So, once again, what happened with Enron? What happened is that you
can’t test virtue.

“But you can teach it. At least you can try. If not in the classroom, at
least in the home, and surely by public example. Reasonable people
sometimes will differ over what is right and what is wrong, but surely
they should be informed that there are such concepts as right or wrong,
and that just because something might be arguably legal doesn’t mean it
should be done. We can’t have a law for every problem, but we can have
one moral code that covers all problems.”

Moral relativism permitted very smart people to overlook very bad
things. We must be careful not to impose our moral views on others, but
we should stop assuming, and sometimes promoting, that whatever works
for you is great. There is a higher standard.

“There is no SAT test for predicting good citizenship — and never can or
should be. You can’t quantitatively test character and decency. The most
effective way to serve your community is consistently to do the right
thing for the right reason. Whatever we’re testing our brightest
students for now, we’re not producing enough good citizens — or even
those who care to be. We don’t need to change the tests. We surely need
to raise our values.”


Lebedoff is a Minneapolis attorney and writer. Among his books are The
New Elite and, most recently, Cleaning Up, which won the Minnesota book
award for best non-fiction. He is a former member of the board of Center
of the American Experiment.

Above article is quoted from American Experiment, American Experiment
Quarterly Vol.6 No.1 Spring 2003

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Government Can Do No Wrong. Consider the antitrust laws. If you charge
the same price as everyone else, you are guilty of collusion. If you
charge a higher price than the competition, you are price gouging. If
you charge less, you are guilty of cutthroat competition. Government
price-fixing, in contrast, is always just right.” — Linda Gorman,
Englewood, CO

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’