The Corner

College Fossil-Fuel Divestment

The campaign to have college endowments divest their holdings in fossil-fuel companies is set to be the next big thing among the nation’s young. The public hasn’t yet noticed, but the divestment movement has spread to 256 campuses in just the past few months. Tactics, including hunger strikes, sit-ins, and building seizures are being debated right now. An overwhelming student-body vote in favor of divestment at Harvard last November gave the movement its momentum.

When they learn of it, conservatives sometimes roll their eyes at the apparent futility of this movement. After all, selling off profitable holdings in fossil-fuel companies is only likely to hurt endowments and leave oil producers unharmed, as the stocks are snapped up by other buyers. Yet the goal here is to render fossil-fuel companies as odious as South African apartheid, which was targeted by a similar movement in the 1980s. The strategy isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. More important, whatever the narrow outcome of the campaign, fossil-fuel divestment is turning the millennial generation against America’s free-enterprise system, and in fact is designed to do so. The political implications of that are very real.

Today, the first of my three-part series on the campus fossil-fuel divestment movement is on the homepage here at NRO. Today’s piece looks at the course of the movement to date. In the second installment, I’ll examine the ideology of the divestment campaign’s key sponsors, Bill McKibben, leader of the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, and Naomi Klein, who’s work helped inspire the Occupy Wall Street movement. Many of the students enrolled in the divestment movement don’t quite understand where McKibben and Klein hope to take them. Their partnership is an effort to forge an alliance between environmentalists and Occupy Wall Street, reshaping the American left. The third installment will be a case-study of the divestment debate at Harvard, where that student referendum turbo-charged the national campaign.

We’re likely to be hearing about the campus fossil-fuel divestment for months or even years to come. I hope to tell you what they’d rather you not know.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More