Better Anti-Boycott Arguments, Please


Kelsey McKinney writes today about the controversy over the Beverly Hills Hotel. The hotel is owned by the Dorchester Collection, which in turn is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which in turn is owned by the Sultan of Brunei. The sultan has recently proposed a new legal code based on a strict interpretation of shariah law:

Under the first phase of [the sultan’s] proposed implementation of sharia, fines and jail time can be given for failing to attend Friday prayers, indecent behaviors, and being pregnant outside of marriage. The second phase will allow flogging and limb severing for property crimes, and the third will allow stoning for crimes of adultery and gay sex.

Unsurprisingly, a bunch of Hollywood celebrities object to this and have tried to organize a boycott of the hotel (though, oddly enough, nobody seems to care much about any of the other hotels in the Dorchester Collection, including the Hotel Bel-Air, which is all of two miles away). I’m not going to pretend that I have any settled views on this whole thing, but I’m struck by the arguments of some of the folks who oppose the boycott. Here’s Russell Crowe:

Sending me abuse will not stop my support of Gay , Lesbian, Bi and Trans Gender rights. The laws that Brunei are adopting are hideous…..However, throwing the staff of Dorchester Collection Hotels under the bus to make a political point is not acceptable to me.

This is the standard anti-boycott argument from the hotel’s management, and I wonder if Crowe and others understand what it means? It’s basically a case against ever boycotting any business for any reason. After all, pretty much every business employs lots of people who are merely innocent bystanders in these kinds of affairs.

This is a plausible argument against boycotts in general, but that’s the only thing it’s a plausible argument against. If you’ve ever supported a boycott of any business anywhere, it won’t work.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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