Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter: Divestment a thorny issue, students should consider new strategies, partnerships

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

To the Editor:

In an April 4 op-ed in The Herald, I was impressed with Anuj Krishnamurthy ’19 ’s debating skills regarding divestment in support of Palestinian civil rights. Although he is critical of Brown Divest, his arguments challenge the group to rethink some of their arguments on this vital issue. Having been involved as an alumnus in a similar divestment effort a few years ago over Brown’s endowment investments in fossil fuel and gas companies, I learned that divestment is a thorny issue with no clear answers.

A strategy bridging the divided positions that was suggested at that time has not been mentioned, as far as I can tell, in the current articles I have read in The Herald. Today, comments present Brown as standing alone on the issue, which minimizes any impact Brown might have even if it did divest.  On the fossil fuel campaign, the student leaders worked hard to connect Brown with scores of other universities considering divestment, which is how the campaign against tobacco succeeded at an earlier time. Unfortunately, President Christina Paxson P’19 and the Corporation rejected that partnership as a viable strategy with regard to fossil fuels.

Further, the recent forceful faculty letter in support of Brown Divest argues that the group should be welcomed into a discussion with the administration and others rather than dismissed, as it has been. The theme of inclusiveness promoted vigorously by Brown should include controversial political issues as well. One can be skeptical about divestment and yet encourage the students involved to join the administration, faculty and alums to find ways for Brown to support concerns about civil rights abuses in Palestine and Israel, and wherever they exist.

Tom Bale ’63

10 Comments

  1. We often hear these days from the campus left complaints about performative activism, which I take to mean a kind of virtue signaling without any real meaning or hope of making a change. What fits this description more than dedicating one’s college years to getting Brown University to sell its investments that support companies doing business in the West Bank. If ever there was a strategy that amounted to less than a grain of sand in the Negev it is this one. By all means get Brown to divest and then wait for the Palestinians to get what they deserve (which is probably not what you think).

    • Is that why they fight BDS so hard ?

      • It is not the divestment that motivates the fight. Who cares what Brown University invests in? Rather, it is the public relations campaign to vilify Israel, which because it has become a component of the whole left-wing project, including BLM, climate change, trans-rights, and the like. As the left holds more and more sway on college campuses, the woke are not allowed to deviate from the orthodoxy on any of these issues. If you tell me that someone supports two of these, I can predict with great confidence how he feels about the others.

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