Yesterday, Joe Malchow decided to jump on the conservative bandwagon of criticizing divestment (and activism in general). Malchow does an excellent job of proving his complete and utter ignorance, and even manages to throw in a bit of condescension. Congratulations. You, sir, are an asshole.
I have a terrible habit of smirking to myself at the flavor-of-the-month liberal causes.
Joe, you moron, this isn't a liberal cause. Stopping a genocide isn't a liberal cause. The members of the DAG are not exclusively liberal. Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has been a louder voice than Sen. Corzine (D-NJ), his democratic co-sponsor of the Darfur Accountability Act. What in god's name are you talking about? Tibet is a flavor of the month cause? Oh yes, I forgot about last December, when Dartmouth Tibetans got all up in arms about that occupation, mass murder, and cultural extinction thing thats been raging since 1959. The Save Tibet movement is as strong as it has ever been, seeking govermental pressure and relief for refugees. Hybrid cars? Who the fuck is wearing armbands (I presume you mean wristbands) about hybrid cars?
Like hybrid cars and Tibet, I can't help but presume in the back of my mind that the latest armband-birthing craze is going to disappear when the WB comes up with the next teenage drama.
Aside from the fact that the above sentence is shit, gramatically speaking, do you seriously believe that? That is incredibly insulting to the thousands of students and activists everywhere who work tirelessly and effectively towards causes. Participation in the DAG only wanes during exam periods, not during episodes of the OC. You're like an old man warning kids about the dangers of "the MTV." You don't know what activism is, you don't know what activists do.
But lets get to the point.
1) The UN should be doing something. Why won't it? Not because it hasn't officially declared genocide - that act is a legal term that would force the UN to take action, but will most likely be decided afterwards. The UN has put resolutions forth (1556 and 1564). They won't actually intervene because China would veto it (75% of Sudan's oil is exported to China), and because Khartoum refuses any non-African peacekeepers. The UN has proved vital in providing food aid, although if levels aren't increased, another 3-4 million will die by the end of the year.
Because the UN can not take action yet, the onus falls on individual nations. The US imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, and has provided food aid. The US has pitched in with the EU, which is funding the majority of the African Union peacekeeping effort. This effort has so far been ineffectual because of low numbers of troops, insufficient equipment, and a restricted mandate. We can only hope more states will take action, providing aid and perhaps even military resources for the AU or the creation of a no-fly zone.
Activism regarding Darfur is intended to help provide increasing levels of aid through NGOs, and to compel the government as well as the UN to take action.
2. The DAG wore armbands for a while, hoping to raise awareness (and yes you cynical jackass, people did take time to ask me what it was about), but primarily to raise money. The money we have raised, along with various other campuses, is a pretty significant amount, and it will be sent to the African Union. More importantly, when an NGO raises that much money, governments take notice. Bush pledged $50 million to the AU recently.
3. The DAG did not move on from awareness to divestment, and we never held one useless candlelight vigil as far as I know. The group (if you've read any of the articles or posts on us) is comprised of several sub-groups. One of these was the Responsible Investment group, which became the Divestment group.
Lets move on to Divestment, because although there are valid arguments against it, you only have misconceptions.
1. The decision to divest has absolutely no financial impact on the endowment. If it did, we wouldn't advocate divestment, and the school wouldn't choose to do it. While these are "fiscally sound" investments, conditions in Sudan could change that very quickly. They are such a minute portion of the endowment that they could easily be shifted to other, equally if not more lucrative stocks. Furthermore, we don't what the hell we're invested in at any given moment. Eight investors individually manage a certain amount of money, constantly altering our holdings. At the end of every quarter, the investment office publishes a snapshot of current holdings, for public view. One moment we may have stock in PetroChina, and then we don't the next day. There is no negative consequence for Dartmouth. The endowment is not affected. These small holdings are sold, another stock is bought. Simple.
2. There are 93 corporations operating in Sudan. Dartmouth holds stock in Siemens, Bayer, Alcatel, and Volkswagen. Dartmouth has no holdings in what we have labeled Category One companies (oil and military suppliers). What we are actually asking is that Dartmouth restrict future investment in any of these other firms. We are recognizing that Bayer provides vital and life-sustaining services (as do another 14 companies), and we have no desire for Dartmouth to divest from this company. A letter from the Dartmouth Investment Office stating that the school is blocking investment in this corporation until they can be assured the corporation is not complicit forces the firm to make a statement on their operations and publicly acknowledge the situation, and creates negative press for the corporation. When Talisman divested from Sudan, its share price had been driven down significantly by this negative attention.
3. Also, its idiotic to think that every minute fluctuation in the endowment translates to a decision regarding financial aid or hiring practices. The market goes up, the market goes down, the endowment changes every day. Financial decisions are based on long-term goals and projections of the endowment. The day we wait for some mutual fund to accrue an extra dollar before we decide to restock the paper in a Greenprint center is the day I get the fuck out of Hanover.
4. That is a ding for the College and- even a blip on the international political radar?
Wrong. I disproved the first part of this. And besides, I think investment in corporations that enable genocide is a moral blight on the college's record that outweighs the unlikely event of a minor (one-tenth of one percent) financial consequence. The second? Dartmouth played a large role in the expansion of the South African divestment movement. In the year or two following our decision to divest, a slew of college campuses, and more importantly, state pension funds chose to divest. It's all about precedent for these things. Harvard decided PetroChina was a morally untenable investment. This makes it easier for the ACIR to "divest." Illinois made the decision just this week. Thats $1.2 billion in corporations active in Sudan. When NJ does it, that's nearly $5 billion. Calpers? $7.5 billion. That's more than a blip.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I welcome valid criticism, but if you don't know what you're talking about, and can't offer a better solution, then shut the fuck up.