Throughout its history, the United States has distinguished itself as the world’s great melting pot, a unique place where anyone from any background can come and access the American dream.
The key to our secret sauce for success, again something uniquely American, has always been an almost reverent national attitude toward tolerance—the idea that in living together, we respect our differences and disagree agreeably.
This is why every region is defined by the blend of ethnic groups and nationalities that settled there. From their architecture, to local vernacular and customs, these areas are a beautiful mosaic of different worlds blending together and thriving.
We used to celebrate our diversity, but today we’re a nation walking on eggshells.
The average American lives in fear of saying the wrong thing and sending the cancel culture mob in their direction. Our fellow citizens are losing jobs, being rejected socially, and attacked publicly because they’ve suddenly been deemed offensive.
Corporate America is now getting into the act, encouraging the mob to widen their attacks to whole industries, as well as states and their citizens.
When Georgia passed updated voting laws, actor Will Smith, along with mega-corporations Delta, Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball, were quick to announce measures to punish and target the state. Observers pointed out that Georgia’s new laws were similar to the voting laws of other states, and in fact less stringent than Louisiana’s regulations, the state where Mr. Smith moved his production. None of that mattered.
We know mob mentality is wrong, and not just because we’re a nation of tolerance, but also because it’s not in the American DNA to bow to bullies.
In the 1950s, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was the bully of his day, using his crusade against alleged communist sympathizers to terrorize Americans. It was only when his colleagues, and the American people, finally stood up to McCarthy that his work to cancel so many good people came to an end.
Unfortunately, before they stopped him, McCarthy destroyed livelihoods and careers. This was most notable in the entertainment industry, where hundreds of actors, writers and directors were blacklisted.
Nearly all of this was done without due process. In fact, Sen. McCarthy was known for attacking with mere accusations, smear tactics, and character assassination rather than presenting any actual evidence of wrongdoing.
Yet, today’s McCarthyism 2.0 is much more dangerous.
Cancel culture and "wokeism" are ending careers, silencing voices, and alienating people from their friends and family. Just like McCarthyism, much of the mudslinging is based on hearsay and limited or false information, resulting in quick declarations of guilt.
But unlike McCarthyism, limited to a politician and his immediate allies, cancel culture is an irrational mob, composed not just of strangers amplified by social media but oftentimes co-workers, friends and family. While McCarthy was eventually held to account for his actions and cast on the ash heap of history, the modern day cancel culture mob is accountable to none, with little recourse for individuals who find themselves in the crosshairs.
So-called "woke" CEOs are making a careful calculation, believing they can gain more consumers and grow the bottom line by being a part of the mob.
This is a huge mistake, on multiple levels.
A recent poll by NPR/PBS found that nearly 60% of Americans are opposed to businesses weighing in on political issues. Additionally, a just released Rasmussen survey reported 37% of Americans say they are now less likely to drink Coca-Cola products because of their public stance against Georgia’s new voting laws.
Look no further than the social media pics of Coke bottles sitting on the shelves in hometown Atlanta while Pepsi products are sold out. Instantly alienating such a large portion of your customer base is not a winning business strategy.
With 70% of Olympic athletes opposed to inserting political statements into the games, even the International Olympic Committee is pushing back. Last week, they announced there will be no "taking a knee" or other such gestures allowed at the Tokyo games.
The backlash is already here.
In our nation’s history we’ve never tolerated bullies for long. We were raised with the refrain of “and liberty and justice for all” and have never bent the knee to tyrants.
We aren’t going to start now.
Both for the sake of their shareholders and the sake of their consciences, corporate CEO’s need to get this one right.
That’s the real bottom line.
Charles Mizrahi is Editor of Alpha Investor and Host of The Charles Mizrahi Show
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