News and Commentary

Report: National Association of Scholars Blasts ‘Illiberal’ Divestment Campaign Against Fossil Fuel Technologies

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) released a comprehensive report on Tuesday detailing the illiberal nature of the campaign to get colleges to sell off their investments in coal, oil, and natural gas companies.

Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels “finds that the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign undermines intellectual freedom, democratic self-government, and responsible stewardship of natural resources,” chronicles an academic wrought with misguided and impotent ideological crusades grounded in the fetishization of social justice. “As the study details, most divestments are empty political promises with little financial effect on fossil fuel companies. The leaders of the movement see the sham divestment decisions as part of the strategy,” writes NAS.

Lead author and director of research projects at NAS Rachelle Peterson highlights the logistical absurdity and ultimate futility of modern academia’s self-righteous divestment campaigns, noting, “The divestment campaign is designed to fail. The organizers’ goal is not to cause colleges to divest, but to anger students at the refusal of colleges to divest fully and to turn their frustration into long-term antipathy toward the modern fossil fuel-based economy.”

Mob-based justice and authoritarian administrators are nothing new on college campuses. College is now where democracy goes to die. Fiscal responsibility and reason are left at the schoolhouse gate for the sake of individual feelings and subjective moral impulses; the walls of the ivory tower are getting higher as the disconnect between outside society and elite higher education only compounds. Safe-spaces wreak havoc on intellectual freedom, while Leftist causes like environmentalism trump concerns over genocide in Syria or ethnic cleansing in Somalia.

Despite insurmountable evidence against the viability of divestment as a political weapon, students and administrators still pour valuable time and energy into this Grail quest of fools. The script of political radicalism doesn’t leave room for edits or redrafts; instead of reason, social justice warriors demand revolution, toppling “systems of power and privilege” to fit the inflexible moral turpitude of Leftism, even if it means destroying the prospect of human welfare. Peter Wood, president of the NAS, explains (emphasis added):

Divestment divides the political left. The campus activists often criticize President Obama for not going far enough in his ‘war on coal’ and his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. Their campaign is meant to pressure him to take even more radical steps. The movement pretends to change the way we generate energy, but its actual aim is to generate resentment, which is fuel for political demagoguery. The ultimate beneficiaries are rich people whose investments in ‘green energy’ will prosper only if they can trick the public to strand our reserves of coal, oil, and gas underground. They favor high-priced, inefficient technologies that happen to require massive government subsidies coupled with sweeping new government powers. Students drawn by ‘save the world’ rhetoric and prevented from ever hearing arguments on the other side have become willing pawns for a movement that, rightly understood, is profoundly anti-democratic and that will also consign much of humanity to perpetual poverty.

“Students drawn by ‘save the world’ rhetoric and prevented from ever hearing arguments on the other side have become willing pawns for a movement that, rightly understood, is profoundly anti-democratic and that will also consign much of humanity to perpetual poverty.”

Peter Wood, president of the NAS

Woods’ critique holds immense weight against similar mob-based activism campaigns such as the BDS, or Palestinian Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement against the world’s only Jewish state, Israel. Similar to the illiberal movement to divest from fossil fuel technologies, BDS works against the very aims it claims to fight for. In fact, when the BDS movement set their seedy sights on the Israeli company Soda Stream, an employer that operates out of the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, the anti-Semitic crusade managed to trample over the livelihoods of those they deem to be “oppressed Palestinians.”

“Sodastream should have been encouraged in the West Bank by the BDS, if they truly cared about the Palestinian people. Because we were the most advanced, technological and largest factory in the West Bank, period. We were the largest private employer of Palestinians in the world, period. How can you fight that? How can you argue that’s bad for the Palestinians?,”said Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum. “It’s propaganda, it’s politics, it’s hate, it’s anti-Semitism. It’s all the bad stuff we don’t want to be part of.”