January 15, 2021
CEO Note: Condemning the lethal attack on the rule of law in the United States
BY: Andy Sharpless
Oceana’s job is to save the oceans to help feed the world. Our teams fight for sensible policies in a wide range of countries: Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We campaign in those carefully chosen places not only because their natural systems give them an outsized role in the overall health of the global ocean, but also because they are democracies. In a democracy, the people’s will, which in every case supports protecting and restoring a robust and highly productive ocean, has a chance to prevail. We help it do so.
For that reason, we are obligated to add our voice to the many condemning the lethal attack on the rule of law in the United States last week. It is a serious threat to America’s core democratic principles, practices, and institutions. It is therefore also a threat to Oceana’s conservation mission. The future health of the ocean requires a vigorous bringing to justice of the violent and racist seditionists who attacked the Capitol. Their abettors must be held to account. President Trump’s role in promoting the lie that the election was stolen from him, his leadership at the rally of the mob in the hour before the assault, and his slow and entirely inadequate response to his duty to order immediate and forceful assistance to the law officers attempting to protect Congress and the Vice President are unforgivable.
Democracy is fragile. We have long known that from our campaign teams’ experiences around the world. It is again evident that the United States is no exception. The remedy is the same everywhere. When violent anti-democratic forces seek to intimidate elected leaders and their staffs, justice must be served. To do this, personal, as well as political courage is essential to confronting and beating back these bullies. We are grateful to the leaders – both in government and in non-governmental organizations – all over the world who have stepped up to this challenge. Personal and political courage is rare. It is essential to our liberty. We are relieved to see it demonstrated this week in Congress by members of both parties.
Populism is a legitimate democratic force so long as it is not violent, racist, or contemptuous of the rule of law and of the truth. Strong democratic societies embrace an active citizenry, and respect grassroots activism. They are strongly anti-racist and do not enforce the law differently for people of different races or ethnicities. Oceana’s policies are often won in close alliance with grassroots coalitions that include small scale family fishers who bring passion to the cause of protecting their rights. We honor the lawful and inclusive expression of grassroots passion as an entirely necessary part of the engaged, participatory citizenry that sustains a vital and successful democracy. Those democracies are helping to rebuild an abundant ocean that can feed a billion people every single day, forever.