On Advertising

ON FEBRUARY 12, The Crimson published an advertisement by the American Arabian Oil Company (Aramco), offering work opportunities for engineers in Saudi Arabia. Although the advertisement was scheduled to appear again in the February 19 issue of The Crimson, at a meeting last week, staff members voted to withdraw it. The Aramco ad will not reappear.

The last paragraph of the ad invited readers to submit resumes to Aramco, "if you're qualified." In the course of the investigations of the Senate Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations in March 1975, it became clear that the Saudi Arabian government enforces a restrictive anti-Jewish policy with regard to entrance visas. In addition to participating in a blacklist of countries doing business with Israel, the Saudi Arabian government has also required that corporations and government agencies entering into agreements with it not employ Jews for projects inside that country. At least four corporations and two government agencies are known to have complied with these restrictions: Ashland Chemical Co., Bendix Field Engineering Corp., Dresser Industries Inc. and International School Services, in addition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Overseas Private Investment Corp.

While Saudi Arabia has used its oil revenues to take some steps toward economic modernization (slavery was abolished in 1963), its political system remains one of the most backward and repressive in the world. Political power is vested solely in the hands of the Saud family, as it has been for most of the 20th century. Fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of political expression are all systematically denied.

Aramco controls the concessionary rights to approximately one trillion dollars worth of Saudi Arabian oil. At present, Standard Oil of California, Texaco and Exxon each control 22.5 per cent of the company, while Mobile holds 7.5 per cent and the Saudi Arabian government controls the remaining 25 per cent of the shares. An agreement has been reached to give the government 51 per cent control by 1982, but there is pressure to reach that level even sooner, and Aramco's cooperation in managing the 1973 oil embargo leaves little doubt as to who is calling the shots.

And Saudi Arabia's restrictive policies have not changed. As recently as October 1975, the Saudi government withdrew from an agreement with Johns Hopkins University to establish a medical school in Saudi Arabia when Hopkins submitted a list of site committee members that included the name of a Jewish physician. It's reasonable to assume that the phrase "if you're qualified" in the Aramco ad means, among other things, "if you're not Jewish."

There is some legal confusion about whether the corporations that adhere to Saudi Arabia's racist visa restrictions are liable to federal prosecution for their hiring policies. David Marblestone, a Justice Department staff attorney, has stated that "no court has ever held that it is illegal to do business with a country that excludes all Jews." On the other hand, some legal observers feel that corporations complying with Saudi Arabian hiring restrictions might be subject to action by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Regardless of how the legal issue is resolved, it is morally wrong for any corporation or government agency to acquiesce in racism. The decision to withdraw the Aramco ad was based on this premise.

The Crimson's action in withdrawing the advertisement raises larger questions about the nature of Crimson policy on advertising. A newspaper should not demand that advertisers conform to its editorial positions, and The Crimson will continue to accept advertising from groups and individuals with views radically different from our own. But there are times when the line must be drawn.

Clearly, investigating each advertiser that does business with The Crimson with respect to the issues alluded to earlier in this editorial would be far beyond our resources. Nor do we intend here to present ourselves as a paragon of virtue; financial necessities prevent us from even considering rejecting advertisements on a regular basis.

But owning and publishing a daily newspaper is a trust, and a newspaper must accept the responsibility for everything which appears in it--news, editorials or advertisements. To set off advertising as a separate entity not subject to moral evaluation would be an abdication of a newspaper's trust and responsibility. The Crimson's advertising columns will remain open to those wishing to communicate with the Crimson readership. But The Crimson reserves the right of judgement with respect to the nature of that communication; racism, explicit or implicit, should not appear in any form in The Crimson.