The most hilarious divestment story yet just came across my desk yesterday. Apparently, the BDS crew is bragging about their latest fantastic, unbelievably, way-cool “victory” during Caterpillar Tractor’s most recent shareholder meeting.
Just as an FYI, before the divest-niks decided, rooster-like, to take credit for the sunrise with Motorola, their primary corporate target was Caterpillar Tractor. Ever since the Rachel Corrie affair, the divestment crew has been haunting Caterpillar shareholder meetings, trying to drum up support for a company-wide boycott of Israel. And each year, their shareholder nuisance activity has earned them exactly nothing (except for shareholder votes running against them by margins greater than 95%).
Well apparently this week’s annual corporate harassment passion play got the company’s CEO Jim Owens ticked off enough to tell protestors that “if they don’t like the way Caterpillar operates, then they don’t have to hold onto their stock.”
“Caterpillar CEO endorses divestment!” has been the headline under which this statement has been broadcast to the world by divestment supporters. Now it might just be me, but when I read Jim Owens’ quote, it’s pretty clear he was using relatively polite, publically-traded-company business-speak to deliver a clear message to the protestors which translates roughly to: “fuck off.” But like a lame pick up artist, the BDS crowd seems to see an FU message as an invitation to roll in the hay.
As I’ve stated before, inflating small victories is a legitimate way to drum up support for an otherwise struggling political movement. But manufacturing triumphs out of situations that actually involved your getting kicked down the stairs (Hampshire College, the Presbyterian Church, etc.) demonstrates either a complete detachment from reality or the assumption that everyone you’re trying to convince is a complete idiot.