There’s a hostage situation at Disney right now.
The kidnappers? A mob of woke employees.
The victim? The company’s CEO Bob Chapek.
And if the mob isn’t stopped, the rest of America will soon be hostages, too.
That’s the reality of what’s happening at the company “where dreams come true.” It started a few weeks ago when Chapek actually did something rather centrist – and sensible. He refused to let The Walt Disney Company take a stance after Florida passed a bill which, among other things, prevented the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to children ages 5 to 8 years old. As he said at the time, such corporate statements “are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame,” so restraint was the best course.
There was a time, not long ago, when everyone knew that was a reasonable response. Disney is a corporation, not a campaign. Its business is business, not politics. But that’s not how the woke mindset works. It views everything as inherently political – and it demands that everyone pick sides on every issue.
That’s why the woke mob took Bob Chapek hostage. Disney executives have attacked their employer on social media and employees staged a nationwide walk out.. Yet rather than stand his ground – and hold Disney to its corporate purpose – the CEO allowed himself to be captured.
Now, he’s doing the woke mob’s bidding. He’s abased himself before his employees, apologizing profusely, and he’s taking Disney in the wrong direction. He’s launched a task force and listening tour, promised to use Disney’s market power to oppose similar laws, and donated $5 million of the company’s money to an activist group that refused the donation until the company took “meaningful action” on the Florida bill.
In less than a month, Disney has gone from not taking sides to waging the culture war. It’s now fighting the state of Texas, which is also trying to protect young children.
Sadly, Disney is far from alone. Virtually every company in the Fortune 500 – and countless others – have been cowed by employees into becoming political pawns. From the corporate pulpit, they’re preaching about everything from abortion to climate change to “voting rights,” largely because they fear what employees will do if they don’t. Never mind that virtually none of this political virtue signaling has anything to do with these firms’ core business interests.
To be clear: Companies aren’t responding to the demands of all their employees, or even most of them. They’re just giving in to the loudest voices. At Disney, employees are passing around a petition asking the company to stay neutral in the Florida fight. They want their employer to focus on doing what it’s supposed to do. But they’re being ignored and drowned out.
Business leaders think that by giving in, the woke mob will give up. But they couldn’t be more wrong. In the same way that you shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, you shouldn’t cave to the mob. If you give ‘em an inch, they’ll take a mile, and continue to make increasingly radical demands.
That’s especially frightening at a company like Disney, which sells stories and ideas to America’s children. You can bet the woke mob wants to fill our sons’ and daughters’ heads with all kinds of insane and dangerous things. And now they think they can get Disney to do it.
Where does it end? Cultural conquest. The mob won’t rest until every company colludes with the government to fundamentally alter American society. At that point, there truly will be no distinction between the private and public sectors. They will be one and the same, and they will force the American people to think and act the same, too
But it doesn’t have to be this way. And it wouldn’t be this way if more CEOs showed some moral backbone.
Every business leader and employee is entitled to their own opinions and should have the freedom to share them publicly — I personally do quite often. But it crosses a line to speak for all of one’s employees by throwing a company’s full weight behind a political cause with no connection to its corporate mission. Keeping out of the ideological fray respects employees’ diverse views and reinforces a company’s role as a private business, not a political tool. It will take courage, yes. But America and the freedoms we enjoy were not built on cowardice.
Are there any companies left that understand this basic truth? Absolutely. You don’t hear about them – and that’s the point. They go about their work without wading into the most contentious issues, and as I can attest, it’s better for the business. While some employees undoubtedly dislike it, the overwhelming majority like working at a place where they can make a difference in society without feeling pressured or silenced into submission. They know that business is meant to serve people, not the political whims of a select few.
America’s biggest companies need to remember that fact. Every business should realize that politics is none of their business. We don’t need more companies to become hostages to the woke mob. We need more companies that help America stay free.
Peter Rex is founder and CEO of Rex, which builds and invests in tech companies.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.