A blistering open letter, entitled “It’s Time for America’s Business Leaders to Speak Out Against the Threat Trump Poses to Our Republic,” signed by college business professors across America, calls for corporate executives to take action.
The professors assert that the country faces “an existential threat to our Republic” and point to “large groups of veterans, generals, soldiers, politicians, scientists, doctors, ambassadors, civil servants, lawyers, journalists and others” that have come out against President Donald Trump.
The educators at prestigious schools of higher learning level accusations against Trump, claiming he “denigrates science, peddles in lies, incites violence, attempts to delegitimize the press, politicizes everything from the Justice Department to the CDC to the Postal Service, and seeks to undermine the integrity of American elections.”
The professors urge corporate executives, “It is time for business leaders to follow suit and speak out against the threat Trump poses to our country.” They further say, “It is time for business leaders to declare publicly what so many have been saying privately: that President Trump is unfit to lead and is a threat to the Republic. And it is time for journalists to start asking America’s CEOs whether they believe four more years of Trump would be good for the country.”
In another time, it would have been unheard of for professors from the nation’s top universities to brazenly vilify a sitting president and label him with invectives. Sadly, we are living in an unprecedented time where many of our traditions and values have been set aside. In the past, educators would try to keep their political views private, so as not to offend or indoctrinate their students.
It’s interesting that they are exerting pressure on corporate leaders. We’ve already seen politics spread into companies with mixed results. It’s obvious that many people are adamant in their views. Some are intolerant and abusive of those who disagree with their opinions. A portion of people tend to become belligerent, engage in harmful behavior and say and do horrible things. We’ve seen arguments over the dinner table between family members, online battles on social media between friends and strangers. Now, at major companies, the heated debates and antagonistic behavior are becoming somewhat commonplace.
Silicon Valley-based companies have largely embraced discussions of politics, social issues, race, gender and wealth inequality. During this work-from-home period, employees at Facebook and Google have moved their conversations to internal online message boards. The discussions became heated causing management to step in and take action.
Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne said about the issues raging within the social media company, “What we’ve heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed.” Osborne added, “We’re updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive. Facebook is strengthening its harassment policy so that employees from under-represented communities don’t face hostile work environments.”
Similar activities are taking place at Google too. The company requested employees to moderate internal message boards, as there’s been an increase of posts flagged for racism or abuse. Google rules state, “While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not.” The company’s guidelines also indicate, “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”
Both tech titans are trying to walk the fine line of allowing employees to speak their minds, while also ensuring that comments aren’t offensive nor distract people from their jobs.
Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Silicon Valley-based cryptocurrency exchange and broker Coinbase, told his employees that he won’t stand for politics and the championing of social issues at the office. Armstrong bluntly said that he’d gladly offer severance packages to employees who aren’t comfortable with the new corporate policy of “political neutrality” in the workplace.
The chief executive wrote in a letter to employees, “Life is too short to work at a company that you aren’t excited about. Hopefully, this package helps create a win-win outcome for those who choose to opt out.” About 60 Coinbase employees have accepted a buyout offer after Armstrong announced the controversial new policy curbing political activism inside the company.
Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of fintech startup Ripple, publicly denounced apolitical work culture. Garlinghouse believes that tech companies have a strong obligation to lean into political discourse and help solve societal issues, especially because the chief executive sees them as a major facilitator of the discord. “The sad reality is—and I say this as a long-time veteran of Silicon Valley—some of these [societal] problems are, at a minimum, exacerbated by the tech platforms themselves,” Garlinghouse said.
Employees of Microsoft, Amazon, Bank of America, Disney, Nike, Uber, JPMorgan and other top corporations have railed against certain actions of their companies that conflict with their social conscience. Social media amplifies these employee protests, which leads to boycotts of the companies’ products. This puts further pressure on management to enact changes in response to the protests and pressure.
Online home goods and furniture retailer Wayfair witnessed a revolt amongst its workers over a business decision. Hundreds of employees complained to management for selling about $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to a government contractor that operates immigration detention centers on the U.S. and Mexico border. When Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah refused to comply with the workers’ demand to cancel the sales, employees protested by staging a walkout. The anger and frustration was captioned by employee Madeline Howard, “We don’t want our company to profit off of children being in concentration camps.”
Corporations run a big risk when they allow political issues to be discussed and argued at the office or feature it in their advertising and marketing. America is divided into two camps. A company runs the risk of alienating half of its workers and customers when it chooses sides politically. It’s a big risk to take. Some companies, by the nature of their products and services, lend themselves to social causes. For others, it could come across cringey, crass and an obvious virtue-signaling kowtowing to the latest social issue du jour.
There’s another important issue. The letter offers a disclaimer citing, “The 600+ professors/faculty who have signed below do not speak for (or represent) their schools or universities.” This flies in the face of reason. The professors have every right to share their opinions. However, there are some questions that need addressing. It seems a little disingenuous when university professors lecture us on injecting politics into business, but by drafting the letter, cajoling corporate leaders to take action and imploring journalists to hold them accountable, they’ve leaped into the fray with both feet.
Their tone smacks of holding the high moral ground. This arrogant one-sided attitude basically accuses millions of Americans being “deplorable” and supporting a person who is evil incarnate. For supposedly smart people, they haven’t considered how their students (and families)— presumably half of whom support the Republican Party or Trump—would now feel sitting in their classrooms or Zoom classes. To them, this letter is highly offensive. It denigrates and demonizes their political viewpoint.
The tenured, above-reproach professors are doing the exact same thing that they’re accusing Trump of—marginalizing and castigating an entire class of people that they vehemently disagree with. Did the educators stop and think of what will happen to those young adults who don’t agree with their missive? It’s likely that the non-liberal students and professors will be treated as outcasts and pariahs. As professors, they have an obligation to present all sides and let people make their own informed decisions without exerting their privilege and entitlement to coerce actions on the part of corporate management.
Colleges professors lean in larger numbers toward being Democrats and liberals. The universities primarily espouse liberal ideologies. Conservative views are disregarded, dismissed and shouted down on most campuses. Instead of allowing dissenting opinions and thoughts, the letter wreaks of pressuring people to conform to their “correct” narrative. The fear of cancel culture for those who deviate from the Overton Window silences critics. Their edict serves to castigate anyone who disagrees with their approved ideology.
You would like to believe that professors from top universities would offer a broader picture. For example, while they excoriate Trump, they ignore reports that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden allegedly engaged in questionable business dealings in Ukraine and China that financially benefited his father. Imagine if professors sent an open letter calling for the removal of Biden from the Democratic ticket due allegations of corruption. You can’t because you know that it wouldn’t happen. Social media sites Twitter and Facebook went to great lengths to suppress the story, as did all of the media outlets—except for Fox News.
This highlights the difference. The professors are cocksure that they are correct in their views without allowing any room for disagreement. By pointing to scientists, armed services, law enforcement and other elites wanting to oust Trump—without looking into their agenda—shows naïveté and a glaring lack of homework and hubris. It’s the epitome of mob mentality at work. Grab a pitchfork and drive the bad orange man out of the White House. Their attitude is as dangerous and frightening as they purport Trump to be.
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