When Your Favorite Companies Go Woke

I like La Colombe, Disney and Airbnb. I get the feeling they don’t like me

by Dave Seminara  Mr. Seminara is a journalist and former diplomat. He is author of “Breakfast with Polygamists: Dispatches From the Margins of the Americas.”
August 5, 2020 

Not long ago, the terms “corporate America” and “corporate culture” were synonymous with staid country-club Republican values. Corporate America has been inching left for years, but in recent weeks this trend has exploded. It was once cool and countercultural to be liberal. Today, the left is the establishment, and conservatives are part of a new counterculture that quietly seethes as the companies we patronize inundate us with woke virtue signaling.

Start with my morning coffee. I love La Colombe but was dismayed when the company joined the Facebook advertiser boycott, which now has nearly 1,000 companies. La Colombe said in an Instagram post that it was “calling for an end to hate for profit on social media.” I went to their website and saw a banner on the home page advertising a limited edition coffee and mug with proceeds “supporting the ACLU!”

I switched to tea for a couple of days, then got curious and looked at the website of Numi, my favorite tea company. I learned that Numi “stands in solidarity” with Black Lives Matter and the Anti Police Terror Project, among others. Now I’m drinking water with breakfast.

It should be ironic that La Colombe is on the one hand boycotting Facebook for failing to censor enough content, and on the other supporting an organization that’s supposed to protect civil liberties. In 2018 the ACLU advised Facebook against censoring offensive speech, but it’s been silent on the issue during the current boycott. Its most recent free-speech press releases condemn the EARN IT Act, which seeks to curb the spread of child-abuse images on social media. The ACLU is concerned the bipartisan bill would be “a disaster” for “the LGBTQ and sex worker communities.”

Facebook says it censored 9.6 million “hate speech” posts in the first quarter of 2020, up from 5.7 million posts in 2019’s last quarter. Apparently that isn’t enough for a host of boycotting companies that my family regularly patronizes, including REI, CVS, Lego, Microsoft, Target and Chipotle. What concerns me about the boycott is that the left is adept at expanding the boundaries of unacceptable content to include anything from calls to “build the wall” to skepticism about climate change.

The growing list of woke companies embracing Black Lives Matter and its champions like Colin Kaepernick is even more troubling. Mr. Kaepernick sent a July 4 tweet calling Independence Day a “celebration of white supremacy.” Two days later, Disney announced it has hired him to produce a series on race. My sons weren’t amused when I suggested we cancel our Disney+ subscription. They’re already annoyed with me for demanding that they avoid Nike, another of Mr. Kaepernick’s patrons.

Sports teams and leagues may be even more obnoxiously woke than other corporations. My favorite team, the Buffalo Bills, has embraced Black Lives Matter. Does anyone care that a co-founder of the group described herself and her comrades as “trained Marxists” or that their statement of beliefs includes objectives such as “dismantling cisgender privilege,” “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” and “freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking”?

My family frequently uses Airbnb, which often sends us virtue-signaling messages. The company recently wrote to inform me that it “stands with Black Lives Matter” while sending me an “activism and allyship guide,” which recommends lefty articles and books like Robin DiAngelo’s woeful “White Fragility.” The guide urges Airbnb clients to participate in “acts of solidarity” like wearing hoodies and buying Skittles in honor of Trayvon Martin.

Woke advertisers are also boycotting my favorite television show, Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” for its politically incorrect content. It’s the highest-rated show in cable-news history, but 38% of its ad revenue comes from Mike Lindell, a Christian conservative known as the My Pillow guy, and you’re more likely to see ads for toenail fungus removers than from any company you’ve heard of.

Chick-fil-A is one of the few companies my family loves that typically support conservative causes. But it too seems to be joining the woke corporate revolution. In November, it succumbed to pressure from the liberal mob and pulled donations from the Salvation Army and other groups that hold a traditional view of marriage. And a few weeks ago, the company’s CEO suggested that white people could demonstrate their “shame” for the sins of racism by—wait for it—shining black people’s shoes. He did just that for a rapper called Lecrae on live television.

This corporate cultural revolution comes at a time when Republicans control the White House and the Senate. Imagine what America would be like with a blue wave in November. I don’t expect or want corporate America to embrace conservative causes. The March for Life shouldn’t be brought to you by New Balance. Unlike liberals, most conservatives don’t try to bully and boycott companies that cross us. If I stopped buying products from woke companies, I’d be eating nothing but Goya food and wearing loincloths made from Mike Lindell’s pillows.

But we should politely let companies that offend us know how we feel. In that spirit, I sent La Colombe a nice note asking them to stick to roasting coffee. A gentleman named Sam wrote back to thank me for the feedback. The next day, the company sent a tweet to crow that it was sold out of its ACLU coffee.

Mr. Seminara is a journalist and former diplomat. He is author of “Breakfast with Polygamists: Dispatches From the Margins of the Americas.”



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