It looks like all you have to do to intimidate a corporation these days is protest in their stores and they will fold like a wet sheet.
Just see how Starbucks overreacted to an isolated incident of bad publicity — which I discussed last week in this space — and now has an official policy of letting people come into their stores, hang around and use bathrooms without making a purchase.
Rushing to follow in Starbucks’ sheepish “politically correct” footsteps is Florida-based Publix grocery stores. Publix is the largest employee-owned grocery store chain in the world with close to 200,000 employees in over 1,100 stores in seven states (nearly 800 in Florida alone).
Publix has been targeted by protesters because it committed the unpardonable sin of making campaign contributions to a political candidate who has accepted funds from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The candidate is Republican Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam who is running for governor to replace term-limited Rick Scott.
The protestors are a segment of student and adult anti-NRA protestors growing out of the February 14 Parkland, Florida, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Publix’s headquarters in Lakeland, Florida, is Putnam’s home county and it has supported him in every campaign since he ran for public office.
Last Friday afternoon, a couple of dozen protesters invaded a Coral Springs, Florida, Publix not far from the Stoneman Douglas school — and in a few other communities including Orlando. They carried “No NRA Money” signs and disrupted and disrespected shoppers by laying down on the floor conducting a so-called “die-in.”
They were met by a very vocal group of “anti-protester” protesters — including men, women and some children — yelling “NRA, NRA, NRA” and “Trump, Trump, Trump.”
Failing to stand up for its own freedom of political speech, Publix’s waved the white flag of surrender even before the so-called “die-in” protests began. It announced that it was going to “suspend corporate-funded political contributions…”
So why all of the fuss? Because Publix has contributed over $600,000 to Putnam — who has called himself “a proud NRA sellout” — over the past three years.
For that he has committed an unpardonable sin in the eyes of progressives and the hate-the-NRA crowd. Not only are their leaders protesting Publix for supporting Putnam, they are demanding that people stop shopping at Publix until it retracts its endorsement.
How ironic. The protesters are exercising their First Amendment rights to condemn Publix for exercising its First Amendment rights!
In its statement, Publix said that it respected “the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices….” It should have gone further and added that “we would hope that they would also respect our right to express our voice on key issues as well.”
The Publix experience is a good example of “no good deed goes unpunished.”
It is another illustration of how the left practices “selective indignation”: either agree with them on some issue or be condemned regardless of your other good works.
Do you think that anyone in the political or media world, or Publix communities, would have the courage to stand up for the company — especially those who have benefited from its donations, extensive charitable largess, and community good citizenship? Or, its commitment to employing those with physical and mental challenges?
Not yet — so far silence!
With one of corporate America’s best management teams, just take a look at a few of the company’s awards and achievements in the past two years alone:
- Named as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to work For” (1998-2018), earning Publix recognition as one of the Great Place to Work Legends
- Listed as one of America’s Best Employers by Forbes magazine (2018)
- Listed as one of the Great Rated! “Best Workplaces in Retail,” “Best Workplaces for Millennials,” “Best Workplaces for Women,” and “Best Workplaces for Diversity” (2017)
- Ranked No. 2 among the Top Companies for Social Responsibility by Harris Poll (2017)
- Ranked No.1 nationwide in giving to march of Dimes (2017)
These are a small example of Publix’s awards and accomplishments which the one-issue anti-NRA protesters could care less about.
As good as its corporate leaders may be, some Publix executives may be as out of touch with their own employees and customers as Hillary Clinton was with Democrat voters. I would wager that NRA and Second Amendment supporters among their customers and employees in their seven state Southeast service area far outnumber those who hate the NRA.
They should listen to Putnam’s GOP opponent, Ron DeSantis. He concluded on Fox and Friends that he thought Publix “made a mistake.” He said that private companies should not be “bullied so easily” and that letting the “left pressure you into backing down” is a “mistake.”
He’s right! Publix Executives should remember that a significant number of their employees are probably more in tune with the Putnam-DeSantis pro-NRA position than those of the protesters.
Now that Publix has buckled, expect extortion money demands to help finance the protesters’ travels, demonstrations, and yes, even assist their anti-NRA candidates.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns. He is a former co-owner of WTVT-TV in Tampa and former president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters. Read more of his reports — Go Here Now.
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