The Left increasingly uses economic coercion in the form of boycotts to stamp out conservative ideas and institutions. Efforts to ban Chick-fil-A, one of America’s most popular restaurant chains, are one example. Apart from outliers like Chick-fil-A, corporate America tends to respond to boycotts as liberals desire, because corporate America is mostly liberal already.
Liberals also sometimes boycott states, which is mostly an effort to enlist companies within those states as allies in pressuring state governments to the left. Again, examples are legion, although it is hard to think of many that have been successful.
Currently, the Left vows to boycott states like Georgia and Alabama that have passed restrictive abortion laws. Thus, Disney says it probably will stop doing business in Georgia, which has become a haven for filmmakers:
Disney CEO Bob Iger told Reuters on Wednesday that it would be “very difficult” to keep film production in the state if the legislation becomes law next year. …
“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” he said. “Right now we are watching it very carefully.”
It isn’t clear how Iger knows that “many people who work for us will not want to work there.” I don’t suppose he has canvassed employees. Nor, presumably, has he polled Disney employees on any number of other issues that might cause them to prefer one state over another.
Netflix has also vowed to reconsider its business relationship with Georgia:
Netflix said earlier this week that it would reconsider its “entire investment” in Georgia, where it has filmed “Stranger Things” and “Ozark,” if the law survives legal challenges.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said on Tuesday. “Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
Is Mr. Sarandos suggesting that Nexflix’s female employees are constantly in need of mid- to late-term abortions? I am so old, I can remember when this would be the kind of thing a corporate executive would keep to himself. But I don’t suppose that is what he means. Rather, Netflix doesn’t want to do business in a state where unborn children are not freely and cheerfully disposed of. That tells you something, I suppose, about Netflix.
New York recently enacted a statute that purports to make abortion legal up to the moment of birth. Similar legislation was introduced in Virginia, but was tabled, as I understand it, after Governor Northam explained that it would allow infanticide. Are there any Disney or Netflix employees who might take exception to such policies? I’m pretty sure there are–they are supported by only a small minority of Americans–but those employees’ voices go unheard in corporate America.
How to fight back? Alabama isn’t taking the Left’s assault lying down. Via InstaPundit:
Hugh Culverhouse, Jr., the University of Alabama’s largest donor, has called for a boycott of Alabama — school and state — over the state’s latest near-total abortion ban law.
But the UA System and Culverhouse have been in an ongoing dispute over the millions he has donated to the law school unrelated to the abortion legislation, vice chancellor for communications Kellee Reinhart said. In an emailed statement, Reinhart said Culverhouse asked the school to return $10 million, “repeating numerous demands about the operations of the University of Alabama School of Law.”
University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis St. John recommended the Board of Trustees return the $21.5 million in donations the law school has actually received, and restore the name to “The University of Alabama School of Law” in a memo sent to board members yesterday. It was renamed in September 2018 to Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law after the Florida businessman pledged to donate $26.5 million to the university.
“After numerous conversations and communications involving President (Stuart) Bell and (School of Law Dean Mark) Brandon, it is apparent that University and law school leadership will not be able to meet the donor’s expectations and do not share the same vision for the future,” said St. John. “It is my recommendation that we comply with the request to return the recent gift, as well as the prior gifts, and restore the name ‘The University of Alabama School of Law.’”
This is good–give the money back!–but of limited application.
A basic fact of our time is the asymmetry between left and right. Liberals boycott Chick-fil-A, while it would not occur to conservatives to inquire into the political leanings of owners of companies whose sandwiches we like. Liberals go crazy on social media, promoting assassination fantasies, weird conspiracy theories and the like, while conservatives are posting photos of their grandchildren. Liberals follow state legislation and make business decisions based on a state’s political complexion, while conservatives do business where it makes economic sense, and vacation where they think they will have fun. The cultural divide between us and them is deep.
Should conservatives emulate the Left’s boycott strategy? It goes against our instincts, but if we want the Left to back off, we may need to imitate their methods. Maybe conservatives can deter moronic boycotts of states like Georgia and Alabama by demonstrating that we have the power to boycott, too. Perhaps companies led by conservatives–there are a few left–should avoid blue states like New York and California when they schedule meetings and conventions.
If we want to consider boycotting products, Gillette is an obvious possibility. I wrote here and elsewhere about Gillette’s anti-“toxic masculinity” campaign, which ostensibly was part of its effort to sell razor blades, which have an obvious connection to masculinity–one that Gillette celebrated for most of its history.
Gillette has done it again with this ad celebrating transgenderism. I confess I am not sure what the story is here: a girl who took chemical treatments and submitted to surgery to become a man? I think so, but am not certain:
One might think that this sort of ad would appeal only to a niche audience, since transgender people account for a percentage of the population too tiny to be measured accurately. But companies like Proctor & Gamble, which owns Gillette and is a major source of liberal advertising, are apparently secure in the knowledge that a small minority of transgender advocates will cheer an ad of this sort, while pretty much everyone else will ignore it: asymmetry at work.
The hard question, I think, is whether conservatives should suppress our usual tolerant instincts and try to beat the liberals at their divisive game.
JOE adds: John makes an important observation: our economic decisions must increasingly be a forum for political expression. And this odd trend appears to have its taproot on the businesses’ side, not the consumers’ side. This is one reason (and forgive the self-congratulation) that I helped to start a company called Patriot Mobile some years ago. Patriot offers cell phone service — and supports veterans and groups like the NRA. Our friend Hugh Hewitt talks about it here.
But as it turns out, fair pricing, respect for consumer privacy, and a sympathetic, U.S.-based customer service team are major attractants. Chick-Fil-A was truly ahead of the game.