How Woke CEOs Traded Our Future For BLM Approval

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Posted: Sep 18, 2020 9:10 AM
How Woke CEOs Traded Our Future For BLM Approval

Source: AP Photo/Noah Berger

An astonishing number of corporate leaders nationwide – who should all know better – have jumped to the support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization and fellow-traveling groups and have boosted claims that the riotous hordes defiling the downtowns (and sometimes the suburbs) of major (and not-so-major) cities nationwide are just peaceful advocates for justice.  

Most appallingly, they have bought in, with their active financial and rhetorical contributions, to the unsupported and insupportable claims that the United States is awash with active and passive white supremacists – that is, all white people – who luxuriate in unearned white supremacy that can never be overcome completely (meaning that all white people are irremediably racist, and therefore evil). But that can be mitigated, they say, if white people agree to “check their privilege.” This means loudly signing on for whatever activists who are not tainted by the evil of racism (and who therefore cannot be white) might demand, without demurer (lest they commit the violence of silence or exacerbate their sins with the crime of “fragility”), and getting out of the way so that people of color can achieve the success that has heretofore eluded them wholly and solely as a result of all the white evil.

Consider a few examples of this corporate support. Microsoft, Amazon, Pepsi, Warner Music and Nabisco have committed significant sums of their shareholders’ money (not their own personal dosh) directly to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which supports all of these notions and their underlying theories. Goodyear was recently caught not only endorsing BLM, but permitting its employees to endorse BLM and only BLM while restricting all other political speech under a “zero-tolerance” policy. Netflix explicitly endorsed BLM and its power to explain American history and society by sending Gone With the Wind viewers, whom it evil-adorably thought needed history and virtue lessons, to the BLM website to learn how to deal with the terrors of watching that masterpiece.

All of this is appallingly racist at any number of levels, not least because it denies agency to the very people of color for whose benefit these theories have ostensibly been espoused. But the corporate leaders who have embraced this nonsense cannot turn around and reject its premises. So they are stuck with this fact: There is no principle in the notion or theory of privilege that limits its application to the racial sphere. Privilege – and the need to redress it – must arise from class and wealth as well.  This “stacking” of privileged or victimized status is in fact at the very heart of “intersectional” theory, which both buttresses and accompanies privilege theory.

Well, there can be little doubt that all of these performatively woke CEOs have more wealth and class privilege than almost anyone else alive.  So do their families, including any current and future descendants.  It follows, then, that if they really do buy into the theories of privilege and the need for compensation, along with the necessarily concomitant theories of collective and intergenerational guilt that are necessary to offer the white privilege/supremacy/fragility triad even the patina of coherence, they must agree that they and their descendants have the most for which to account.

If these CEOs are honest and serious about their support for BLM and its allies and principles, then we should look for them to renounce, for themselves and their posterity, their positions of power, influence  – and yes, privilege – with just as much publicity and performative vigor as they employed in making their initial supportive commitments.  Look for them to consign themselves, their family and their progeny to positions as manual laborers, social workers and retail workers, with the salaries and influence that append to those positions. Only then can they – the most intersectionally privileged of us all – properly and fully make restitution for their surfeit of good luck and good fortune (because, after all, individual responsibility and accountability, and all that follow from them, have been renounced by the movements and theories that they have espoused).  

Notably, however, it appears that none of these loudly woke corporate leaders have taken this obvious and requisite next step. This raises the suspicion that they didn’t really mean their pronouncements after all. Or, more exactly, it raises the suspicion that they didn’t mean the notions and theories of Woke that they have so lavishly embraced to apply to them and theirs. Rather, they performed their wokeness as a way of buying off the leftwing mobs, secure in the expectation that they are wealthy enough and of high enough status that whatever damage they inflicted by supporting notions of intergenerational race guilt and the negation of personal responsibility, it would never have any meaningful effect on them and theirs.

In other words, they bargained our futures for their personal and familial benefit.

Keep that in mind when you hear these same corporate leaders pompously demand acute changes in corporate law that would allow them to convert their business organizations into unelected public-policy agencies, with themselves in control.  And respond as though your personal future is at stake – because it is.

Meanwhile, the corporate poohbahs themselves would do well to study a little history. (It’s not too much to ask of people who want to, and think themselves qualified to, control our lives.) History teaches that those who try to ride social-revolutionary tigers tend to get eaten by them, along with the rest of the civilization that those tigers end up mauling for years or generations. They may think that it’s only us whom they are sacrificing, but the course of human events suggests otherwise.  

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Deputy Director of its Free Enterprise Project.