Terry H. Schwadron
June 5, 2023
We are repeatedly seeing support on Fox News for boycotts aimed at companies that offer diversity programs, even while seeking to undercut or ridicule boycotts called by more progressive groups in the name of free speech about causes, they favor.
The latest foil has been Chick-fil-A, a food company that ironically displays continuing outward support of both issues involving strong Christian faith and right-wing politics. The seemingly curiously reason: The chicken restaurants have a vice president in charge of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
The company itself is confused by the criticisms, since promises of inclusion are both required by several state or federal laws and that the appointment of its diversity program is several years old. But recent campaigns against Bud Light for hiring a trans spokesman and Target for carrying clothing lines that are meant to appeal to LBGTQ customers.
As a result, sales at both companies are reportedly sagging by noticeable amounts. Apparently, the number of trans beer drinkers is less than the number of beer purchasers who hate anything that appears to promote a lifestyle they don’t like.
Recently, panelists on Fox’s “Outnumbered” program asked out loud whether the public backlash toward ‘woke’ companies is going too far.
Of course, not mentioned in all of this is that Fox itself has a diversity, equity, and inclusion program. “FOX is committed to fostering a culture and environment where everyone, from everywhere, feels welcome and can thrive. The exchange of ideas and viewpoints drives innovation and inspires powerful storytelling that resonates with audiences,” the company says in its public offerings.
Should we be boycotting Fox as a result?
Don’t Look Too Closely
Apparently, we should recognize that hypocrisy and lack of consistency are features of our modern political era rather than bugs. Anything that helps our side win, whatever that may mean, is okay, even if it prompts flip-flops or contradictions in what we ourselves say and do.
Of course, this is not limited to right-wing activities. It’s just that with the amplification of Fox and other right-leaning outlets, those campaigns are reflecting a higher share of the public outrage that describes an angry voter base.
There’s a certain myopia here about the effects on all this public stamping of feet. Boycotts of books don’t help kids read anything any better: The 72,000-student Davis School District north of Salt Lake City removed the Bible from its elementary and middle schools while keeping it in high schools after a committee reviewed the scripture in response to a parental complaint. Hypocrisy anyone?
The price tag for education is still coming in, amid reports that voluntary departures of teachers in schools in Florida and other states passing bills about what they can say are spiraling.
Disney made headlines in withholding investment in Florida over the governor’s insistence that the company back his partisan and ugly anti-gay bills.
Taxpayer-Paid Legal Defense
More literally in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis and his legislative supermajority talk about transparency and then vote to conceal who is paying for his official trips towards running for president, the culture wars are starting to mount in cost — for the very taxpayers in whose name DeSantis has undertaken his anti-“woke” work in earnest.
Naturally, DeSantis’s ultra-conservative, anti-gay, anti-Black, anti-trans, anti-university legislative agenda has drawn fire from a slew of marginalized communities as well as major corporations including Disney. That has meant a rising number of costly lawsuits from those who see trampling of their rights.
The Guardian has rounded up news reports at the mounting cost of defending the state and determined that the price tag is already at $16.7 million and rising — all from an administration that opposes what it says is excessive government spending.
DeSantis’s legal fight against Disney following the corporation’s condemnation of his anti-LGBTQ+ laws is going to cost the governor and his handpicked board nearly $1,300 per hour in legal fees for a case that never needed to be brought.
The state is paying the conservative Washington D.C.-based law firm Cooper & Kirk $725 an hour to defend the governor in several lawsuits challenging the anti-woke bills, The Orlando Sentinel says, with the state authorizing $2.8 million just from that one firm.
It’s a pattern. In the recent debt deal, Republicans insisted on budget “cuts” to food stamp programs — and had sought the same for Medicaid — by adding work requirements. In those states where those requirements have been implemented, it cost each state tens of millions of dollars to set up administrative and eligibility review processes — obviating much of any pretended cuts in actual governmental spending.
Whether it is boycotts, spending bills or culture wars, we ought to open our eyes and ask whether the loudest voices actually are solving a problem.