Tag Archives: Trump Administration

Boycott Facebook

Little Rock       The old saying that “arrogance comes before the fall,” doesn’t set the clock on when it happens, just the inevitability.  Facebook, the social media giant and communication hub for the world, seems finally on the verge of reading the time correctly, after ignoring the issues and the voices of concern and protest for years.  Now an ad boycott, led by the NAACP and others from the human rights community, is slapping them awake.  Four hundred companies have joined, including big hitters in auto and consumer brands. This is a serious assault on their tower.

Of course, Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues continue to duck and weave, shuck and jive, trying to escape accountability once again.  The issues are plain.  Facebook has been unwilling to curb hate speech, including the racial divisiveness pounded daily from Pennsylvania Avenue.  This despite their documented problems in the 2016 election where they were manipulated by Russia, allowed Cambridge Analytics to scour millions of users from their database, more recently enabled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and Hindu extremism against Muslims in India.  All the while, their response has essentially been, “Who me?”

Their problems have intensified to crisis point as they have increasingly become outliers hiding behind their ostrich-in-the-sand pretense that this all about free speech and political news.  Twitter, surprisingly, has led the way in blocking Trump’s extremism on voting, the virus, and race.  YouTube jettisoned the David Duke white supremacist channel.  Reddit, Snap, and others have also stepped in to prevent Trump abuse.  Trump of course responded with a meaningless executive order, as if he could usurp Congress and the FCC, but no one blinked, except perhaps Zuckerberg.  Congress is asking all of these guys to come for hearings so we’ll see more shimmying and sliding from Facebook in coming days.

Big companies don’t like their ads running next to a bunch of name calling and hate mongering.  Surprise!  They don’t think that encourages consumers to buy.  Oh, yeah, they also claim that they care about the issues, and some of the more progressive ones like REI, the outdoor cooperative, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, do care about the politics.  This boycott is serious because 70% of Facebook’s revenue comes from small business advertising, and a tipping point of accountability could finally get their attention.

As always, Zuckerberg’s strategy is to defuse the crisis.  He announced some more controls, yawn.  He says he is going to meet with the boycott organizers, but he’s actually already talked to them, and they came away unsatisfied.  Remember he met with the rightwing whiners who claimed there was a bias against them in recent years, and, frankly, that’s part of the problem he has now, along with his pussyfooting with Trump.

Facebook is slippery.  I’m rooting for the boycott, but it may take a lot more ad withdrawals to win change, given how much arrogance remains.

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Juneteenth is Having its Day

New Orleans      President Trump in replying to withering criticism of his initial decision to hold a Covid-19 campaign rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth claimed he was doing African-Americans a favor, because “no one has every heard of it.”  Besides showing his general indifference to anything outside of his own self-interest bubble, he also proved he has never been to Texas.  If you’ve ever been anywhere in Texas in the fat middle of June, believe me, you know about Juneteenth.  There are rallies, cookouts, parades, concerts, and celebrations for one and all that go on for days.  Texas isn’t the only place where Juneteenth has been marked with a red circle on the calendar for more than a hundred years, but it claims the prominent place, since the date notes when word of the abolition of slavery finally reached African-Americans in the Lone Star state.  Now, with any luck and a lot of pressure, this might become a date that claims the country, not just Texas and minority communities, in the wake of Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests.

Oklahoma of course stepped up, and the controversy wasn’t sidestepped just by Trump moving his rally one day, since the celebrations will be running in Tulsa along with Trump’s rally that will likely be as white as a Klan meeting.  New Orleans charter schools tried to jump on the bandwagon and declared Juneteenth a holiday, even though schools are not in session really.  Some big businesses closed in honor of Juneteenth or in the case of Target, altered their hours and allowed some workers to take the day off with pay.  Tech companies trying to hide their disproportionately white payrolls are fawning all over themselves to raise up Juneteenth.

Even though a lot of this is corporate cooptation, let’s just be clear, that it’s time that Juneteenth got its due.  We need a formal holiday that is centered around our national original sin, slavery, and especially one that celebrates its abolition.  Veterans have several holidays that demand reflection for service, sacrifice, and death.  It would be more than fitting to have one day that recognizes the horror of slavery, forces a discussion about the unfinished business of reconciliation and reparations, and, yes, acknowledges the sacrifices and death of millions of slaves for the guiltless crime of their birth and race.

Watching the high and mighty try to suddenly contend with their own structural racism and tracing some lines back to their legacies in slavery, whether it be Georgetown University or Lloyd’s of London, is important work, but we can’t allow the corporate and rich greenwashing to substitute for real recognition and results.  Even as the pressure and demand for change ebbs and flows, making Juneteenth an annual day of remembrance, reflection, and, yes, action, will continue to sustain the forces of change.

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Please enjoy Oh What a World 2.0 (Earth Day Edition) by Kacey Musgraves

Thanks to WAMF.

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