Who do you love? Who do you trust? Wam, bam, here we go ’round and round on the mud slingin’ over diamond awareness in the wake of the flick The Blood Diamond hitting cinemas last week. As we’ve reported, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons has been out and about visiting diamond mines and promoting awareness on the issue of conflict bling. Simmons has claimed that ‘conditions have improved and the sale of diamonds to fund war has dropped to just one percent since a new process was established in 2003.’ However, Blood Diamond director, Ed Zwick isn’t buying it:
“I find it embarrassing for Russell Simmons. That number comes from diamonds that are mined in countries that are ‘war-declared.’ Conflict diamonds are also mined in countries where there is not a ‘declared war.’ If you want to know about conflict diamonds, you don’t go to Botswana and South Africa. You go to Sierra Leone and Angola. Russell Simmons is being embarrassed.”
“To suggest I’m a sellout is wrong. I’m not here to defend the past of these companies. I’m here to talk about the current reality. Diamonds pay for education and medical treatment in Africa.”
True, but at what cost? I’m not so sure we can accept Simmons rosy-colored assessment of the diamond trade and relax. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story that someone so involved with De Beers and others would probably reveal. Still, he is making the effort. Zwick is just wondering if Simmons is focusing on the right place. Agreed. Good thing bling is dead.