Let's stipulate: Activists on the left are free to exercise their rights of speech and assembly to boycott businesses whose politics they oppose. Conversely, activists on the right are free to exercise the power of their pocketbooks and refrain from supporting businesses that shun their values.
So, what are you waiting for, conservatives? There are coordinated shakedowns taking place right now that involve some of America's most prominent companies who've chosen to surrender to progressive bullying and race-card opportunism. Silence is complicity.
On Tuesday, McDonald's told liberal magazine Mother Jones that the company had "decided to cut ties with ALEC, the corporate-backed group that drafts pro-free-market legislation for state lawmakers around the country." The fast-food conglomerate follows in the feckless footsteps of Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Intuit (maker of Quick and Quicken Books software) and Kraft Foods — which have all withdrawn support for ALEC after drum-banging from Color of Change.
That's the minority community activist outfit founded by former Obama green jobs czar and radical Occupy Wall Street supporter Van Jones. Since leaving the White House, Jones has been occupied with railing against capitalism while cashing in on book sales from corporate media appearances.
But I digress.
For years, progressives have sought to take down the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a four-decade-old association of state legislators who believe in "the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty." ALEC's veteran policy experts have successfully teamed with public officials and the private sector on crafting model state bills covering everything from education reform and health care to pensions, public safety and civil justice.
Among the group's greatest heresies in the eyes of the left: support for voter ID laws to protect election integrity, immigration enforcement measures and self-defense legislation to strengthen Second Amendment rights.
The idea that private businesses and public servants could work together voluntarily on public policy is too much for Big Labor and Big Government racketeers. Last fall, leftists from People for the American Way, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Arizona AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers, the Arizona Education Association and Progress Now (a militant group backed by billionaire George Soros) ambushed an ALEC meeting in Arizona to intimidate legislators and corporate backers. In February, the Occupy movement turned from demonizing Wall Street bankers to attacking the policy wonks of ALEC as wretched symbols of "profit and greed."
And now ALEC's race-hustling enemies are piggybacking on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. They're shamelessly blaming ALEC for the tragedy by claiming the group wrote the state's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law. But as ALEC points out:
"(The) law was the basis for the American Legislative Exchange Council's model legislation, not the other way around. Moreover, it is unclear whether that law could apply to this case at all. "Stand Your Ground" or the "Castle Doctrine" is designed to protect people who defend themselves from imminent death and great bodily harm. ... In the end, we will always respect people who disagree with us in matters of policy, but it is simply wrong to try to score political points by taking advantage of a great tragedy like Trayvon Martin's death."
Color of Change is ratcheting up pressure on ATT, one of ALEC's corporate board members, to abandon the group or be forever branded as racists with blood on their hands. These campaigns are of a piece with the pressure campaigns against advertisers of conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh. (Not coincidentally, many of the same groups are involved in both.) The Hush Rush mob has succeeded in finagling anti-free speech declarations from the likes of Arby's restaurant chain and Walgreens drugstores — two companies that have never been sponsors of Limbaugh's show, but which announced last week that they won't advertise in his time slot on local station ad buys. Note: These are bit cancellations of an ad buy; there's no loss of money. It's pure, progressive gesture politics, astro-turfed by Soros-funded groups, to create the fake appearance of an anti-Rush advertising stampede — and ultimately, to chill conservative dissent.
McDonald's, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Intuit, Kraft, Arby's and Walgreens have shown their true colors: appeasement yellow. It's time for conservatives to stand their ground and stop showing these corporate cowards their money.
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is [email protected]