Friday, July 31, 2020

Let's Keep Business on Ice & Leave the Heat of Politics in the Public Square

The last few days I’ve read several articles about national sports teams kneeling or standing for the National Anthem. As sport teams try to get started back to playing for our entertainment they have to content with the highly charged culture wars raging in the country. This isn’t new but it continues to heat up. Sport leagues are under pressure on one side to make political statements about current heightened tensions over race in America. On the other hand they are threatened with boycott by those who don’t want to see the American flag or National Anthem disrespected. Thus, companies that run these sport teams are forced to gauge the political winds and make decisions about political signaling that will be most profitable to them.

I never dreamed that standing for the national anthem was making any political statement other than showing loyalty and reverence for the high American ideals for which the anthem and flag stand for. Even if those ideals have not always been lived up to, kneeling during that show of patriotism seems less like a political statement and more like spurning the privileges and blessings we enjoy today because of being an American. Yet, now it seems that kneeling and standing have become political statements on the front lines of a highly charged culture war. 

Everything in our nation is becoming politicized. We’ve allowed the classroom and university the university become politicized with little push back. Academia and even science is becoming politicized. We have an overly politicized media and now we see signs that even the internet and big tech are going to be politicized. There are no spaces that aren’t politicized by our degrading culture.

I wish consumers would leave their politics out of their business interactions and I wish business weren’t having to check the political winds and signal the correct political message in order to survive, but it’s not the fault of business that we've gotten to this point. Business is being leveraged for political power and it’s not surprising that business are now skiddish about any possible signal they might send that could tank their business. 

It’s been primarily those forces on the left that have used these tactics to leverage political control. When a CEO or high profile employee of a corporation says the “wrong” thing, the person is publicly shamed and the pressure is on to have that person fired. This is how we got “cancel culture.” This is the cultural trend where we go after corporations and institutions when their leaders or employees exercise their freedom and take a political stand we don’t like and we try to bend them to our will.

I think kneeling for the national Anthem is disrespectful and distasteful, but I think it’s an individual choice and an expression that is an extension of free speech. I think the corporation has a clear purview to uphold generations of sporting tradition and play the national anthem under the stars and strips. I think we should tolerate those individual athletes who kneel, sit, or stand — we tolerate it in the name of protecting a culture of right in which we send the message that though I might not agree with you, I believe in defending your individual rights to hold you opinions and express them. — Then the tolerance goes the other way. Those athletes who kneel, and the Americans who feel solidarity with their political opinions, should be able to tolerate the league standard for upholding the pregame tradition and not try to leverage their activism to get the tradition thrown out. I’m this way both sides give a measure of tolerance for the other and send a unified message that what we all agree on is that a culture of rights is paramount to progress for all.

Only when Americans across the political spectrum begin to behave this way, only when we all believe in those rights as sacred and fight to defend everyone’s right regardless of their politics, will freedom for all be secure.

What I want, I want people to stop punishing companies because of the politics of the CEO’s, or high profile employees. I want people to go eat at Chick-Fil-A if they like their food and stop punishing them for being conservative. I want people to go to an NFL game if they like football and stop pressuring the NFL to censure players for either standing or kneeling. I want to see activist on the left stop trying to push their opinions so aggressively on the rest of Americans who are proud of their country.

One thing is certain, corporations have to stop responding to the political mob and intimidation of the social media echo chamber. The “cancel culture” prompts business to behave politically because their natural default is to make money and when you have a culture that will punish companies because of politics then you cause them to get political. Business taking political stands and virtue signal to whatever the cultural wind is destructive of the American system these same businesses rely on for their prosperity. We the people are the only power that can set this destructive trend right.

The bottom line is that the problems we are seeing start and end with the culture. America is loosing her culture of rights and because of that everyone’s rights are in jeopardy.

In this environment, an unquenchable conflict is beginning —  the reality is, that in a world without equality of rights, in a world where people don’t uphold the rights of others by virtue of their own commitment to rights — it becomes a world about domination and there is no way to peacefully coexist. Factions break off and viciously fight to control the country and the culture so their ideas and way of life will survive. If we can have no confidence that our rights will be secure regardless of what cultural winds are blowing then the result is war not peace.

The American way is to live and let live, to keep business cold and impersonal so it can do its job and we can all benefit from the products and entertainments it provides. Leave The heat of politics to the public square where debate is free and open, and leave the culture to the home, the church, and the conscience; and finally unite around a shared history and culture of rights that will support the civil society and secure our liberties for years to come.

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