GUEST ROOM | ‘Singling Out’ President Pollack’s Divestment Confusion

In President Pollack’s much-publicized statement rejecting Students for Justice in Palestine’s proposed divestment measures against Israeli occupation, Cornell’s leader claimed that such action would “unfairly single out one country in the world for sanction, when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial.” In case she has forgotten, we would like to remind her of the other countries whose human rights violations have been brought to her attention by anti-imperialist members of the campus community. In May 2017, Pollack’s administration declined to take action to utilize Cornell’s purchasing power to help curb militia violence in the Congo in accordance with the demands of the global “conflict-free” movement. A resolution that earned the near-unanimous support from the Student Assembly was unilaterally dismissed, even though the relatively uncontroversial conflict-free campaign provided Cornell with a feasible action plan to directly address the country’s human rights violations. University leadership simply couldn’t be bothered to care about this powerful student-led effort, let alone act on it. The following month, an SA resolution authored by human rights organizers and Native American student leaders asked the University to divest from dirty pipeline projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty and put the future of all peoples at stake.

JOHNS | Reining In Iran’s Brutal Regime

Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In this feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “Forty years after the Iranian Revolution, what posture should the U.S. take on the Islamic Republic?” Read the counterpart column here. An unidentified man was publicly hanged in the Iranian city of Kazeroon last month, one of thousands of Iranians executed on charges of homosexuality in the country since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran’s despotic legal system and practice of secret executions make it easy to underestimate the magnitude of Iran’s human rights abuses, which also have targeted political opponents and religious minorities. Yet, while numbers are hard to come by, human rights experts are nearly unanimous in placing Iran among the world’s worst human rights violators.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: An Invitation to President Pollack on Qatar

To the Editor:

As student labor organizers involved with Cornell’s United Students Against Sweatshops chapter, we heartily welcomed The Sun’s Feb. 5 editorial on the decades-old discussion surrounding Cornell’s operation of a medical campus outside the capital city of Qatar. We hope to further contextualize the longstanding fight to secure a third-party investigation into working conditions at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, with an eye towards future concerted action. To do so, we must first touch on relevant aspects of this campus’s rich history of student-driven labor organizing. At the turn of the millennium, the prolific USAS network mobilized to counter the influence of a Clinton-made organization, the Fair Labor Association, whose corporate ties clearly compromised its ability to independently monitor sweatshop conditions.

EDITORIAL: Past Time to Investigate Cornell’s Qatar Campus

The University’s longstanding, disturbing refusal to investigate labor conditions at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar has fallen out of the discussion as of late. It is past time to bring the discussion back to light. Some context for the uninitiated. Human rights groups charge that Qatar’s foreign labor sponsorship system enables exploitation bordering on slavery. Migrant laborers come to the Gulf nation seeking work, but are quickly funneled into involuntary servitude.

Bangladeshi Journalist and Human Rights Activist to Stay in Ithaca Asylum for A Month

Raad Rahman, a Bangladeshi freelance journalist, novelist and human rights activist, will stay in Ithaca for a month as a writer-in-residence with Ithaca City of Asylum, an organization that provides sanctuary for repressed writers, according to the Cornell Chronicle, which is run by The University. Rahman told The Sun that Ithaca caught her interest because of its vibrant environment as a college town and said that she “likes being surrounded by students and intellectuals for the next generation.”

During her time in town, in addition to writing, Rahman will address the South Asia program at Cornell in a seminar titled, “Sex, Blasphemy and Terrorism: Bangladesh’s Systematic Repression of its LGBTQ Communities” on April 23. She will also give speeches at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival’s literary showcase and hold public readings of her work. Rahman, who graduated from Bard College with a degree in anthropology and literature in 2006, has been active in human rights advocacy and journalism. She recalled receiving a number of death threats when writing about the first and only LGBT magazine Roopbaan in Bangladesh, where her fellow journalist and founder of the magazine, Xulhaz Mannan, was murdered for defending gay rights.

THE E’ER INSCRUTABLE | 1916 Annus Fructus Extranei: Lynching and America’s Blood Theatre

“The chief failing of the day with some of our well-meaning philanthropists is their absolute refusal to face inevitable facts, if such facts appear cruel.” -Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race

As a prelude to his article, the second of my series on tumult and upheaval in 1916, I must warn any potential reader that the content may be distressing to those sensitive to racism and violence. I would advise discretion. The controlled use of violence as spectacle has been a social glue since time immemorial: the Romans handpicked slaves to fight to the death over the graves of their patrician masters, and the despots of feudal Europe relished the drawing, quartering and parading of ghettoized pariahs and their ilk, be they Jewish, Huguenot, or Cathar. These previous blood-shows of Antiquity and the Middle Ages were the concerted efforts of knightly orders to, as they saw it, cut off gangrenous social limbs from the corpus politicum. D.H. Lawrence, in his compendium of critical analysis on the growth and stagnation of American literature, once wrote that a white man would never be at ease on American soil: the dust and mud and bronzed ochre itself would forever reject him, the usurper of one native population and the enslaver of a another he had imported.