by Richard S. Ehrlich / Scoop (New Zealand) –
” and “more powerful than religions.”BANGKOK, Thailand (March 2, 2004) — President George W. Bush is a war criminal, businesses are “more powerful than religion” and Wal-Mart is evil, according to The Body Shop’s founder, Dame Anita Roddick.
“War criminals are called ‘leaders’,” Ms. Roddick told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand during her Tuesday (March 2) news conference on corporate social responsibility and community trade.
In today’s globalized world, business is “more powerful than any other social institutions,” she said. “It is more powerful than governments [because] governments are ‘economic governments’. It is more powerful than religion.”
When asked in a recorded interview afterwards to name war criminals who are leaders, Ms. Roddick quickly replied with disdain: “Bloody Bush. I think this whole Iraqi war is one of the biggest disgraces of our time,” she said.
“I tried to get the company, The Body Shop, to stand up in every country, to oppose the war in Iraq. And [Body Shop] America wouldn’t do it. Britain wouldn’t do it. The only country that stood up against the war in Iraq was [Body Shop] Australia,” she said.
Wal-Mart as an Axis of Evil
US-based Wal-Mart is another target of her ire. “If you really want to know about the evils inherit in Wal-Mart, go to the National Labor Committee in New York,” she said in the interview.
“I just don’t want to break bread with them [Wal-Mart] because of their conditions, their sweatshop practices in Bangladesh. They don’t want to give any living wages, they don’t support any living wages. I don’t like them. End of story.”
She also opposes the World Trade Organization, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Monsanto, the Disney Corporation and a slew of other businesses because of the methods they use to maximize profits. “Corporations run the world. They control it,” she said.
Roddick’s New Role: ‘A Moral Force’
Born in England in 1942, Ms. Roddick opened her first Body Shop in 1976. Today, the retailer offers nearly 2,000 trendy stores throughout the world, including Thailand, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia.
After years of developing cosmetics, salves, cleansers and other products to sooth and rescue people’s bodies, Ms. Roddick described her current role by saying, “I’m just a moral force.”
She insisted local co-ops, tribes, families and other small-scale workforces need to be nurtured and protected from exploitation, enslavement, imprisonment and other human rights abuses.
It “deeply, deeply, deeply pisses me off… the way businesses run roughshod over indigenous communities,” she told the news conference.
The Dame, however, worried her opinions were not always welcomed, especially in America, after she wrote about the terrorist attacks of September 11, intrusive Homeland Security laws, and the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
On her website, Ms. Roddick wrote an “open letter to George W. Bush,” denouncing him for “rank imperialism and war-mongering” and “the danger you pose to the world, which you have molded into a place where it is all too easy for leaders to commit egregious crimes under international law — including the crime of aggression — without the price tag that the Nazi leaders paid at Nuremberg.”
Emphasizing “my love for America and Americans,” The Body Shop founder also wrote:
“I fear for citizens in a country [America] where suspicion of terrorist activity alone is grounds for detention without legal counsel and without benefit of knowing the evidence against you.
I worry for people who now again live in a country in which their own government has given itself the privilege to tap private telephone lines and intercept email, and which recruits its own citizens to spy on their neighbors.
I am concerned for the vibrancy of a nation whose citizens are told to fall in line behind the government without question, or to be branded terrorists.
Richard S. Ehrlich is a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 25 years. His web page is www.geocities.com/glossograph/