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Divestment advocate failed to back position

Joel J. Gwynn's letter ["Nermal shows insensitivity to the reality of apartheid," March 2] does nothing to abate my belief that the Coca-Cola boycott is an excuse for some to funnel moral emotion into any cause presentable. I am not denouncing the notion of a boycott itself; the boycott is a legitimate stand on beliefs, regardless of whether or not I agree. What I object to, and what I was trying to highlight in Nermal, is the smug ignorance of some of its supporters.

I have spoken to people actively involved in the boycott as part of researching the boycott itself. The Coke boycott is about divestiture, not trade sanctions. Friday's letter not only misses this completely, but assumes they are the same thing. This is not surprising. Not including my sources, I have spoken to only one supporter of the boycott who had any clue as to what the boycott was really about.

Mr. Gwynn, you say that "doing business in South Africa means reaping the benefits of the barbaric social and economic segregation that exists there." Some companies do exploit segregation. Does Coke? Have you even checked an independent source? I have. What do I think black Coke employees in South Africa are paid? My sources say they are paid comparably to whites. Your letter offers nothing to contradict this claim. I will believe a well-researched reference over your single, unsupported sentence.

I do not pretend to believe that Coke is a benevolent shelter to poor blacks, but think about this: If Coke left South Africa, its subsidiaries there would no longer have any incentive to treat their black employees well. The same taxes would go to the South African government; the same products would be produced. The difference? Black employees would no longer be working for a company trying to be morally responsible. Any protection they had would be gone. This is certainly worth taking into account, yet most boycott supporters ignore these considerations. These employees are real people; let's not "try it out, and see what happens."

Mr. Gwynn, your article contains much rhetoric and no substance. I am not calling you a liar; I am pointing out that None of Mr. Gwynn's arguments offer any proof. The entire article is an emotional argument. Yes, numbers and facts are less exciting than grand, tear-wrenching speeches, but they carry the weight of reason.

Mr. Gwynn, may I request that you research your stand before you argue it. When you replace fluff phrases such as "lame rationalization" with facts, I will be happy to have an open-minded conversation on the topic. I'll certainly change my stand if you can show me I'm wrong.

C. M. Montgomery '93->