This week’s scenes of college campuses coming unhinged provide the perfect background for an important new report from the National Association of Scholars, whose very name -- scholars -- seems quaintly out of date, thanks to hysterics at prestigious universities like Yale and bullies at the likes of the University of Missouri.
When students, professors, and administrators can enact draconian anti-free speech codes and otherwise reveal their view that college is a place to inculcate political propaganda, rather than to pursue the truth thoughtfully, the stage is set for the fraud known as the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement. Luckily, the National Association of Scholars has just released a very thoughtful, thoroughly documented demolition of this crude effort to manipulate academe and the broader public.
The 300-page report from NAS counts over 1,000 campus-based campaigns, a number that has grown rapidly since the con job started in 2010. But fewer than three dozen American schools have announced they have divested, and NAS finds that sometimes the claim is mostly a pious lie, as greedy school leaders leave their lush endowments largely untouched. Across the pond, Oxford claims to have joined the divestment brigade, but it leads the world in hypocrisy because it hasn’t actually sold a pennyworth of its evil capitalist paper.
That shows how little interest in reality the campus divestment brigades have. Nor do they care about their manipulation by wealthy puppetmasters like Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager who is one of the world’s largest contributors to politicians and a trustee of Stanford. Come to think of it, Steyer himself has a history of denouncing anti-environmental bogeys like oil pipelines while continuing to reap profits from his hedge fund’s investments in the same industry.
As NAS shows, the divestment movement pretends to be student-led when in fact it is carefully managed -- wet-nursed, you could say -- by professional activists in the pay of Steyer, the Schumann Media Center, and others. The movement’s lead advocacy group, 350.org, pays students to be activists and interns, and the professional wet-nurses choose the Twitter hashtags, themes, and “days of action” that the credulous are supposed to believe arise spontaneously from the students used as the “face” of the campaign.
Any American, college educated or not, who can keep himself from hysteria and exercise rudimentary logic can easily divine the truth hidden behind the fraud. Movement leader and (naturally) Middlebury professor Bill McKibben has admitted that divestment won’t have an effect on so-called “fossil fuel companies.” It will neither shrink their (trigger warning!) profits, nor limit their access to (again!) capital. It won’t even make a difference in college endowments, only about 1 percent of which, NAS finds, are affected by divestment decisions.
No, the stock sales, like the student mobs, are window dressing. Behind the curtain lie the real goals: to politicize students, converting the potentially educated into reflexive slogan-shouters, and to shove the American public toward political support of the Left’s global environmental agenda, which is nearing a climax at the U.N. climate summit this December.
The Obama administration and its fat-cat friends like Steyer hope to use the summit and the treaty that will come out of it to further strengthen their political control over the economy. If they can scare the half-educated with the ghost of “climate change” and exhort the masses to submerge their thoughts into the pabulum of yet another radical movement, the cool manipulators will be able to satisfy their own lust for power through an expansion of crony capitalism that will make the notorious Solyndra deal look like child’s play.
FOOTNOTE: Read the NAS divestment report here. For a Capital Research Center report on Tom Steyer’s previous machinations, go here. For a CRC exposé of the Obama administration’s schemes surrounding the U.N. summit, go here. I’ve written on the Solyndra scandal, which was really a nonprofit scandal, here.