On invoking the law to oppose boycott. And why only now?

Some are disappointed that the academic boycott stunt was ended by lawyers rather than UCU membership. Shalom Lappin responds on Normblog.

The Jim Crow laws in the United States were overturned in the 1950s and 1960s through Supreme Court decisions and civil rights legislation, rather than by popular referendums in southern American states. The civil rights movement did not attempt to argue with segregationists to give up their misguided commitment to discriminatory practices. It invoked legal authority in order to compel them to respect the human rights of African Americans. In a liberal democracy the rights of individuals and minorities against racist exclusion are ensured by legal guarantee.

I’m waiting to find out exactly what the lawyers said – there’s a circular promised for Monday. And more to the point, when did they say it. Could it be that the UCU NEC compromised with the pro-boycotters and allowed this debacle, with its associated onslaught of horrible UCU-hosted “absurd, anti-semitic and mendacious” emails, continue until the beginning or term, even though it knew the boycott and associated campaign to be racist in effect?

Shalom (who stalked out of UCU in disgust when it passed pro-boycott policy back in May) reckons:

… it is important to recognize that the union leadership has consistently failed to provide serious moral and political leadership in the face of the boycott campaign. Neither of its antecedent executives in the AUT and NATFHE ever took strong, unequivocal stands against the boycott. They sought to appease the boycotters on each occasion that a boycott resolution was introduced and passed. These executives and the current UCU administration effectively stood aside, adopting a position of studied neutrality. Given the clearly discriminatory nature of the proposals and the AUT’s decision excluding boycotts except in very restricted circumstances, the obvious question to ask is why the UCU executive did not seek legal support for excluding the boycott when the current motion was first introduced, prior to the national UCU conference in May 2007.

I don’t know, but the timing raises some questions.

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