The Schoolyard Bully Morphs Into the Corporate Bully
By Frank Miele
April 12, 2021
When I was growing up in Stony Point, N.Y., a half-century ago, the schoolyard had its share of bullies — people who would try to intimidate you into acting or talking just like them.
Me being a bit of a loudmouth even then, I had a tendency to push back. Of course, the stakes weren’t usually too high. Just public humiliation and maybe being shoved to the ground or wrestled into submission. Nor were these debates of great consequence. Could be a fight about the Monkees vs. the Beatles or the Mets vs. the Yankees, but the underlying principle was the same as what we fight over now: Do I have a right to my own opinion or not? And back in those days, there was a law that was immutable, an argument that was invincible, a question that had no rejoinder:
“It’s still a free country, isn’t it?”
The answer was obvious. We were the land of the free, the home of the brave. We were born in a struggle against tyranny. We had saved the world from the Nazis and the fascists. Since then, we had been engaged in a death struggle with the forces of evil and enslavement in the form of the Soviet Union and Marxist ideology. And the most important standard of our freedom was the ability to say whatever we wanted, even if it pissed somebody off.
But that was then; this is now.
Now, the schoolyard bully has morphed into the corporate bully. It’s Coca-Cola, Delta, Major League Baseball, Google, Twitter, etc. They think they are the cool kids who can impose their will on the rest of us, make us toe their line and parrot back their woke words. It is an obscene distortion of free speech.
The latest round of corporate bullying was triggered by Georgia’s decision to reestablish voter confidence in that state’s elections following the free-for-all that we witnessed in the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 Senate runoff elections.
Of course, everyone knows that the official party line out of Washington and the state-run media is that there was no election fraud in 2020. That’s fine. People can believe whatever they want, but when they try to prevent their opponents from exercising their sovereign will through legislative action, that cannot be tolerated.
No need to get into the allegations of voter fraud in 2020. All you have to know is that the legislature of each state is responsible for establishing election rules, and that this very important constitutional provision was violated in 2020, not just in Georgia but in a number of states. The Georgia legislature reasserted its authority last month and established rules for how to assure fair elections going forward.
That should be the concern of the voters in that state, who elected the legislators who passed the law and the governor who signed it, voters who also have to live under the provisions the reforms established, including the requirement that voter ID be documented for mail-in voting.
But it is none of the business of corporations that sell soft drinks or provide transportation to and from the wonderful state of Georgia. Wait, that’s not quite right. If companies want to be wrong about voter ID, that’s their business. But if they want me and others like me to be wrong about voter ID, that’s my business. And if they try to intimidate the state of Georgia into doing what Delta or Coca-Cola wants, that’s everybody’s business.
Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star Game out of Atlanta to punish Georgia for its new law. It did so without due process and without recourse. That would make sense in a totalitarian society where we all are expected to think alike, or at least to cower in fear when told what to think. But the United States of America isn’t supposed to be like that, and if it is, if corporations can control what you think or say, then what exactly makes us better than China or Iran or North Korea?
Think about it. If corporations can take away our rewards and privileges because they don’t like an exercise of legal authority by a state government, then what can’t they punish us over? Facebook has already banned “the voice”of Donald Trump from its platform, and Twitter refuses to archive the record of the 45th president’s historic conversation with the American people on its social media platform.
What’s next? Will Google ban some of us from using its Internet services because it disagrees with the content of our speech? (That’s a rhetorical question. YouTube has already removed more than half a dozen videos from my channel because they dared to mention court challenges to the 2020 election.) Will Bank of America refuse to lend you money because of your politics? Will Delta forbid certain people from flying on their airplanes because they expressed opinions contrary to the company’s new leftist philosophy? Any of those may well be coming.
The CEO of Delta, Ed Bastian, put out a statement on March 31 that falsely claimed Georgia’s new election reform law “could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in … Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.”
Hogwash. The law applied equally to all communities in Georgia, and was race neutral, as indeed every law in the United States must be. The reform law is just as hard on white people who try to vote without legal identification as on black people. The voting hours are the same.
The early-voting requirements are the same. But that did not stop Bastian and numerous other corporate leaders from fanning the flames of racism by lying about the statute.
‘I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian brayed.
Fine, Ed. Thanks for letting us know. But what you have to understand is that millions of Americans don’t share Delta’s fake virtue-signaling values.
To quote another schoolyard retort that seems appropriate: “Who made you the boss of me?”
These multinational corporations think they are better and smarter than plain old Americans, but they aren’t. Here’s what we deplorables understand: It should be easier for legal voters to vote. It should be harder for illegal voters to vote. If Delta, Apple, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, American Express and the rest of the corporate bullies don’t understand that, then they will get what they deserve when Americans boycott their products and services.
Bottom line: If Americans surrender their sovereignty to the bullies in the boardrooms, there will be no going back. As every schoolboy knows, once you let them rub your nose in the dirt, they own you.
Frank Miele, retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics.