frequently are used to quash positions best addressed with a verbal
retort, not the silent treatment.
often hurt the wrong people -- that is, good hard-working folk.
180,000 Africans -- some say 400,000 -- have been killed or have
died from related disease and hunger in the Darfur region of Sudan
since 2003, desperate measures are in order, including boycotts.
Last week, the University of California regents were right to
vote to let foreign investors know their qualms about doing business
with genocidal Sudan. In March, the regents should go further
and begin dropping university investments in funds overly encumbered
It is already
illegal for American firms to do business with Sudan. Congress
has labeled the violence in Darfur, which has displaced 2 million
civilians, as "genocide," after the Bush administration
vainly hectored the government in Khartoum to stop Arab militias
-- known as Janjaweed, or evil on horseback -- from razing villages
of ethnic Africans.
have perfected rape as a weapon. John Prendergast, a Sudan expert
based in the United States with the International Crisis Group,
explained to "60 Minutes" last year, the Janjaweed "are
like a grotesque mixture of the Mafia and the Ku Klux Klan. These
guys have a racist ideology that sees the Arab population as the
supreme population that would like to see the subjugation of non-Arab
come rolling into the town'' -- on camel or horseback -- "shooting
and torching the village, often bringing women to the side and
raping women indiscriminately. And in order to ensure that the
destruction is complete, the government either sends ground forces
to oversee the operation or the attack helicopters, which often
are the most deadly things."
UC regents voted to divest in companies operating in South Africa
to protest apartheid. The vote was controversial, as many critics
believed that African workers paid the price for UC's conscience.
On the other hand, to the extent that divestment hastened a welcome
end to apartheid, it was a noble effort.
regents voted against investing in tobacco-related companies.
It was a silly exercise -- considering that people choose to smoke
-- that, the university estimates, cost about $109 million.
the issue is not second-hand smoke, but genocide. And if the UC
system can do something to put the brakes on the carnage, I'm
So is Rep.
Ed Royce, R-Calif. In a statement, Royce noted: "The U.S.
already prohibits American companies from investing in Sudan,
so this voluntary UC action only affects foreign companies. Though
significant divestiture by companies in other countries could
prompt the Chinese to fill the economic gap in Sudan, (whose)
National Islamic Front government is committing genocide, which
makes divestiture simply the proper moral course." With the
regents seemingly inclined to divest, they only need to sort out
how to do it effectively. UC spokesman Trey Davis noted that staffers
are exploring which funds to target.
a graduate student working hard for the divestment cause, told
me his group has targeted 17 companies that "most substantially
contributed to government revenue with minimal social welfare
benefits." The students' goal is to pick on corporations
that throw money at the Khartoum regime, but fill few jobs with
local workers -- and to damage the Sudanese energy sector so that
departing companies cannot quickly sell off and turn a profit.
one boycott lead to others -- especially in the politically correct
world of academia? Miller told me, "The threshold should
be extremely high, rarely met." The situation is extreme,
the stakes are high and UC should drop investments in Sudan.