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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A horror movie lies behind UA corporate contracts

    The Russell Athletic scandal last week set an interesting impetus of inquiring into our university’s business practices that violate state, federal and international law. What does this have to do with us, and what is our role to play?

    Curious, I set out to look into a few other companies, with even more glaringly illegal activities than Russell – Caterpillar, Inc., and Motorola, Inc., as just two case examples. A public records request revealed UA licensing agreements with both.

    First, what skeletons and corpses does Motorola have in its closet? In an article published in The Nation last month by Human Rights Watch senior military analyst Marc Garlasco and consultant Darrl Li entitled “”Remote Control Death,”” the authors report in grisly detail several instances of Israel’s use of drone technology during the brutal evisceration of Gaza earlier this year, extensively documenting cases of willfully indiscriminate killing of civilians, notably corroborated by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) personnel interviewed by HRW.

    Yet, lo and behold, evidence found at one of the unspeakably gory crime scenes full of “”presumptively civilian”” bodies (recognized by government IDF lawyers as such) were “”hundreds of perfectly cubic pieces of metal shrapnel, circuit boards and other parts (including some marked with Motorola serial numbers), and four small impact craters – all consistent with drone-fired missiles.””

    Consider further the ignoble activities of Caterpillar, Inc. A report in 2004 by Human Rights Watch entitled “”Israel: Caterpillar Should Suspend Bulldozer Sales: Weaponizied Bulldozers Used to Destroy Civilian Property and Infrastructure,”” states that the company’s armored bulldozers are used by Israel “”as its primary weapon to raze Palestinian homes, destroy agriculture and shred roads in violation of the laws of war.””

    Noam Chomsky, world-renowned linguist and social critic – hailed by The New York Times as “”the most widely read voice on foreign policy on the planet”” -ÿspoke with me last week via telephone from his office at MIT about social and political responsibility, outlining how we are all implicated in the “”criminal behavior”” of “”every act that Israel carries out”” in the occupied territories, “”because we are providing the decisive military, economic, diplomatic and … ideological support”” for it. He bluntly remarked, “”If you and I don’t like the fact that we are directly participating in massacres of our government, we can act to change the policies of our government. That’s what a free society is supposed to be about.””

    But such honorable gestures, though seeming scant, are not without precedent. This past February, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, “”became the first college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine,”” quoting the organization’s press release on Feb. 12.

    More than 800 students, faculty and alumni signed the “”institutional statement”” by the Hampshire group leading the divestment campaign, Students for Justice in Palestine.

    “”That made sense,”” Professor Chomsky remarked of the Hampshire divestment initiative led by SJP students. “”They were targeting U.S. firms which are involved in criminal activities in the occupied territories. Such initiatives, he said, are “”targeting those directly responsible, namely ourselves, which is crucial. And it’s not only (morally) defensible, it’s legally defensible. Israel is illegally using U.S. arms and equipment in violation of not only international but even U.S. law. And for American citizens to call for observance of U.S. law is certainly appropriate; and it’s also a very good educational outreach tool. It’s the way to help overcome the lack of understanding of what’s going on, right at the country where it’s needed – here.””

    It’s instructive for us to observe how President Shelton is dealing with the Russell case, in order to rationally judge how he might deal with the university’s connection to cases of mass murder and destruction implicated upon the business practices of Caterpillar and Motorola. On the current status of the Russell story breaking this past week, the Daily Wildcat paraphrased Shelton as stating, “”for now, the UA will wait,”” while declaring: “”I’m going to sit and think a lot.”” Key verbs here are “”sit,”” “”think,”” and “”wait”” – two-thirds of which are notably opposite of the visions which our university principles and purpose encourage us to do, most of all the president.

    In his closing remarks at a debate at the Oxford Union in December 1964, Malcolm X discussed Hamlet’s famous soliloquy of self-doubt and despair. In that fateful monologue, the Danish prince questioned his own worth and capabilities as to whether he should directly oppose his “”sea of troubles”” in order to end them, or whether he should “”suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”” and simply wait it out. The latter is certainly Shelton’s answer, who would have us take the place of “”Casablanca””‘s dejected and despondent refugees who, being “”unfortunate,”” helplessly “”wait … and wait … and wait.”” Alternatively, Malcolm’s answer was: if you act, you’ll end it, but “”if you sit around and wait for the one who’s in power to make up his mind that he should end it, you’ll be waiting a long time.””

    I recall the telltale scene in Stanley Kubrick’s “”The Shining”” in which the clairvoyant little boy envisions the brass elevator doors of his mysterious new family home in a mystical hotel resort slowly opening to unleash a torrent of blood that spills and splashes over the entire hall, filling it (and his innocent mind) with the hotel’s revealed contents of terror and “”redrum.””

    Now the elevator doors of our murky campus closet are swung open and the truth comes pouring out in a crimson flood that courses through our halls, laboratories and classrooms – and, of course, from the great curdling spring emanating from the seventh floor of the monolithic administration building. What, then, will be our answer to this “”sea of troubles?””

    -ÿGabriel Matthew Schivone is a junior majoring in art, literature and media studies. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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