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“According to…”

Well, campus today is all aflutter for the impending “march on Johnson Hall“. In what seems to be a deliberate attempt to rekindle past glories, the “Step Up, Oregon!” faction is going to demand that Oregon distance itself from a clothing manufacturer accused of employing sweatshop labor, breaking the law, and generally being very, very bad.

Even the ASUO is trying to get in on the action.

I want to avoid weighing in on whether Russell is an evil company or not; They may very well be, and I’m in no position to say they aren’t.

The problem I have with virtually every argument that I’ve seen advocating breaking with Russell (apparently in violation of OUS rules) is that they do little more than repeat Workers Rights Consortium talking points without even a hint of skepticism.

We’re told that closing down a factory “…prompted Worker Rights Consortium investigations, which found that the decision to close the factory was at least partly because of [unionization attempts], constituting a violation of Honduran labor laws.”

That’s all very well and good, but did anyone honestly expect them to come to any other conclusion? The WRC has painted a proverbial target on Russell’s back, and I think everyone would be absolutely shocked if they didn’t reach the exact conclusion that they did, in fact, reach.

To put it another way, I find the WRC’s “findings” about as convincing as a report reading something along the lines of “an investigation by the Democratic National Committee found that George W. Bush was a bad President” or “investigations by the Communist Party of the USA found that capitalism is bad”. Those statements may or may not be true, but, like anything coming from the WRC, they’re not exactly unbiased.

As part of their college education, students are expected to show at least a modicum of skill in critical thinking.

It would be nice if those skills could be put to use questioning the veracity of claims of corporate wrongdoing made by an organization whose express purpose is to accuse corporations of wrongdoing.

I’m not necessarily disputing the claims that Russell may in fact be a rotten company. I’d just like to see people be a bit more careful about repeating what amounts to little more than propaganda.

Then again, hope springs eternal.

  1. Alex says:

    No, I know that’s what you meant, I’m just making fun of your choice of words.

  2. Vincent says:

    I suppose, using this standard, we should also, when we use a toaster, question the veracity of bread toasted by a machine whose express purpose is to toast bread.

    Well if the toaster burns the toast beyond recognition without fail every single time, one might question the usefulness of said toaster.

  3. Alex says:

    It would be nice if those skills could be put to use questioning the veracity of claims of corporate wrongdoing made by an organization whose express purpose is to accuse corporations of wrongdoing.

    I suppose, using this standard, we should also, when we use a toaster, question the veracity of bread toasted by a machine whose express purpose is to toast bread.

    Note that this is an issue with the concept expressed by your sentence structure, not necessarily with the idea behind it.

  4. Sakaki says:

    Timothy, you’re taking my lines again.

    Actually, you’re taking Mr. Garrison’s lines.

  5. Timothy says:

    You go to hell and you die there.

  6. Vincent says:

    At least you didn’t screw up your post with BBCode this time… *cough*

  7. nike urbanism duk says:

    Jim Keady has some of his work on Youtube if you want some well informed arguments on this issue to deconstruct. I almost got him speaking here on campus a couple months ago but OSPIGG blew all the Survival Center money.

  8. Matt says:

    Vincent, I think the complexity and the originality of the argument depends largely on the venue.

    Obviously, if you look at protest chants just on their face value, they will seem, at the very least, “shopworn and unoriginal.” While this characteristic does not invalidate their argument (for example, one of the most shopworn and unoriginal arguments repeated ad infinitum on a daily basis is the argument that individual freedoms are a good thing, it nonetheless remains sound), it is simply impossible to encapsulate the full breadth of an argument in that kind of venue.

    The best you can do, realistically, is make enough noise to call attention to the dialogue and then begin talking about the more complex nature of the argument, which is exactly what has been done.

    The deeper argument, in the case of Oregon, is unique from all of the other schools in that it asserts a need to cut the contract without relying on a licensee code of conduct. Every one of the schools before us has mostly conducted their argument on the basis that the WRC findings indicate their school’s licensee has violated their code of conduct, a code we do not have.

    The argument here is that the WRC, the FLA, the Honduran Labor Inspector’s Office, and the compliance firm ALGI have found evidence that the company has violated the law. We’re asking to hold off on doing business with companies engaged in illegal activities until this evidence is further investigated or remediation has taken place, if for no other reason than to protect our brand’s image (admittedly, I have other reasons).

    This happens in the marketplace all the time: for example, you may remember that Kellogg Company cancelled their endorsement with swimmer Mike Phelps after evidence was found he was engaged in illegal activities. And while I didn’t agree with the law he was alleged to have violated at all, I can’t really argue that it was imprudent or inappropriate of Kellogg to make the free choice to disassociate their brand with him, for the time being. There are numerous other examples of this, and they are hardly inappropriate business practices.

  9. Josh M. says:

    I was thinking the same thing, Vincent: They sure showed Frohn a thing or two!

  10. Vincent says:

    Not sure if this was the link that Tim was trying to post, but that video is downright comical.

    It’s a shame they couldn’t have come up with something a little more original than the shopworn


    [insert sweeping demand here]!



    Extra points for the maniacal Raaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggh!!!! though.

    The look on Frohnmayer’s face is classic, too. You can practically hear him thinking:

    Really? This is all you kids could muster? I’ve dealt with more fearsome ‘activists’ in my sleep. And speaking of sleep, I’m about there right now. You know, I could use a nap… but maybe after I get a burger at Rennie’s. I wonder what the special is today. I hope it’s not the chili burger… Ehh, but maybe I’ll just get a salad instead. I hope the weather’s good this weekend… I’d love to get in a few holes down at the links…

    OH! What was that? Oh yes. Smile. Nod. Just shake their hand and smile, Dave. They’ll go rage against the system somewhere else soon enough… *sigh*

  11. Matt says:

    Actually, my argument has a lot to do with the long-term viability of the UO trademark and the ability of it to perform economically.

    But that’s neither here nor there. I get your point.

  12. Timothy says:

    It’s kind of nice to see that the WRC can’t really revive its former glory.

  13. Bothersome Fellow says:

    Some bag of douche came in to my class this afternoon and tried to convince us to show up, even though that very class wouldn’t get out until 3:50. I hung out with a smoke waiting to see these goobers on parade until 4, and still nothing. Either the big idealists only protested for about 20 minutes or they were super slow educating all of their otherwise apathetic protesters in the art of being annoying. Bunch of knuckleheads.

  14. Thunderlove says:

    Activists to march on Johnson.

    This has to be the headline of the year.

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