Sometimes, within the context of a supposed competition and especially one between competing ideas, it’s instructive to remember that the two sides might not even be playing the same game. One example.
Students at Harvard and other universities are agitating for the university to divest themselves of investments in the fossil fuel industry. Last week the President of Harvard Drew Faust issued a statement saying thanks but no thanks harvard will no do no such thing. Here’s a response from Divinity School student and climate activist Tim DeChristopher (who served a two-year federal sentence for civil disobedience):
Drew Faust seeks a position of neutrality in a struggle where the powerful only ask that people like her remain neutral. She says that Harvard’s endowment shouldn’t take a political position, and yet it invests in an industry that spends countless millions on corrupting our political system. In a world of corporate personhood, if she doesn’t want that money to be political, she should put it under her mattress. She has clearly forgotten the words of Paolo Freire: “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and powerless means to side with the powerful, not to remain neutral.” Or as Howard Zinn put succinctly, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”
She touts all the great research on climate change that is done at Harvard, but she ignores the fact that the fossil fuel industry actively works to suppress or distort every one of those efforts. To seriously suggest that any research will solve the climate crisis while we continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to maintain a stranglehold on our democracy is profoundly naive.
Emphasis mine. One side is trying to convince the public that climate change is real, the other is working, and largely succeeding, at stifling debate. Climate change denialists aren’t even that – they can’t and won’t debate the issue on the merits, and the public should take note. What they choose to do is attack the open system whereby society can debate what is happening to it and decide what to do. This course is at least as pernicious as the effects of the dirty energy of which it is service, as it provides for a comprehensive anti-democratic attack on the objective of self-government itself.