It’s said that children are always trying to push people’s limits to see what they can get away with. What’s not usually said is that everybody does this, not just kids. You do no long-term good by letting a child, or anyone else, walk over you.
This is the incremental lie of the social-justice warrior: “Give us this now and we’ll leave you alone. Until tomorrow.” Corporate America is learning this the hard way as they realize that un-redeemably anti-corporate activists can’t be bought off with a few rainbow logos in June. They’ll keep pushing until they push you out of business.
The common expression now is “Get woke, go broke.” The list of examples keeps growing.
While an integral part of the NFL’s brand is traditional patriotism, it decided to tolerate disingenuous protests from self-promoting players and its ratings have plummeted. While ticket and merchandising sales for Star Wars have always been driven by male customers, key figures with Lucasfilm have gone on an activist-approved crusade against their male fans who now don’t buy Star Wars tickets or merchandise. The most glaring example of mismanaged social justice activism (so far!) is Gillette, which earlier this year made a piece of propaganda to demonize its male clients — and lost $8 billion the next quarter.
Amortize that and it’s $32 billion over a year, money that will never come back.
Now this isn’t always the case: fashionable activism can actually be a great marketing strategy if it fits a company’s brand, like Starbucks’ or Ben & Jerry’s. But for most companies, this strategy is going to backfire.
One great example of a company standing up to the impossible-to-please, anti-corporate crowd is firearms manufacturer American Outdoor Brands Corporation. AOBC has been under the gun (forgive the pun) from activist groups trying to use shareholder pressure to get them to stop selling firearms, which obviously runs against their business model.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) sent them an ultimatum to do just that last month, with a proposal demanding AOBC adopt a “human rights policy” according to the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In it, the ICCR scolds AOBC for not addressing the problem of “escalating gun violence.”
The UNGP issue writ large is problematic for companies like AOBC. The fact is that, once implemented, ICCR and its ilk would use the guiding principles as a cudgel to attack every legitimate business activity undertaken by AOBC (and any other company that gives into them). “You can’t sell any gun because it’s in violation of the UNGPs!” ICCR will say.
Now, it’s not my place to enter the debate of what constitutes a human right regarding gun ownership — the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, and even The Washington Post have all done that. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out that we lose more way people to medical errors, the flu, and car accidents than to mass shootings — which got him in trouble because it questioned the acceptable narrative.
But it is my place to point out that companies do themselves, their shareholders, and their customers no service by chasing the approval of their critics.
Caving into a group like the ICCR on one measure invites increasingly unreasonable demands. You cannot appease people who hate you nor make friends with those who want to destroy you.
ICCR’s brand of activism is uniquely repellant because they do so under the mantle of righteous zeal. Cunningly, this is done to provide leverage against social conservatives — given that both church-goers and gun owners tend to be socially conservative — while giving the group a shield against counter-attacks: “How can you attack us? We’re nuns!”
Invoking religion in the public square is questionable, except on direct issues of religious freedom or to provide a general ethos to society. Spokesnun Judy Byron and others apparently missed the Sunday School where Jesus taught “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17), a statement which has formed the basis of the Western separation of church and state. Social dictates from the Catholic Church are particularly unwelcome until they can first expunge the pedophiles from their ranks, something the allegedly sex abuse-happy United Nations desperately needs to do too.
As AOBC fires back, let’s hope they remember Titus 1:12-14 in, “rebuking these liars sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” May they be a light to the rest of corporate America. Amen.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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