After Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration left dozens of visa-holders and green card-holders detained at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, liberal social media warriors lashed out at Uber.
That’s right: self-righteous do-gooders were angry that Uber was providing transportation service to travelers arriving at JFK, including more than 80,000 daily international travelers. All of this in the effort of “protesting” Trump.
What gives? The New York Taxi Workers Alliance announced a strike the day the order was implemented, saying, “As an organization whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that’s almost universally immigrant, and a working-class movement that is rooted in the defense of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban.”
Never mind that the taxi union strike did nothing to help those stranded, or impede the application of the order—or do much of anything besides making it harder for tired folks from all over the world to get to their destination after what could have been a 12-hour flight. In fact, the strike may have even hurt the effort to help permanent American residents and refugees who were detained, by making it harder for pro-bono lawyers to arrive at the airport.
But the important thing for the left is “solidarity”—doing something pointless to get attention.
Uber Is Guilty Of Offering Rides To Tired Travellers
Hearing that there was a taxi shortage at the airport, Uber NYC tweeted that it had turned off surge pricing for airport trips. Uber has already been burned by public relations mishaps involving surge pricing in storms and other high demand situations. When prices (automatically) increased in the area around the Sydney terrorist attack in 2014, Gawker slammed the company, and Uber ended up refunding rides.
Of course, the whole point of surge pricing is to encourage more drivers to go where more people need rides. You don’t want someone stranded near a hostage situation because all the Uber drivers are out picking up people elsewhere. So with the taxi union on strike, it actually would have made sense for Uber prices to rise. It would have incentivized drivers to make up for the missing taxis. But it’s easy to anticipate that economically-illiterate liberals would have criticized Uber for “profiting from personal tragedy” or something if they did keep surge pricing in place.
But liberals are so blinded by their hate of business—and of Uber in particular—that many of them still attacked Uber. “You tried to profit off a strike against an unconstitutional immigration ban,” Twitter user Matt Lubchansky wrote. “Uber is a scab during union strikes,” wrote @Slbevis.
Even worse for liberals, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is a member of the President’s business advisory council, which also includes Tessa CEO Elon Musk, a known Clinton supporter. (Kalanick’s preference in the 2016 election doesn’t appear to be publicly known, but he did donate to support Obama’s inauguration.) Kalanick said he was going to use his position on the council to critique the executive order.
So Uber is damned no matter what they do: raise prices, and they are being cruel. Take off surge pricing, and they are being insensitive and not standing in solidarity. They must not even pick up any passengers.
A Taxi Strike Only Hurts Innocent Travellers
It’s an old liberal protest tactic to try to “raise awareness” of an issue by inconveniencing everybody. Liberals will block the highway, or burn down a local immigrant’s shop because they are angry that a police officer shot someone. On Trump’s Inauguration Day, Disrupt J20 torched a limousine and smashed the windows of Starbucks.
What good does refusing transportation to innocent Americans and foreign tourists do? It’s not like Donald Trump or Steve Bannon were arriving at the airport. The rich and powerful have chauffeurs. Much of the middle class parks or rents a car. The only people affected were the poor and those who support public transportation.
Imagine you are a traveler just off a long flight across an ocean. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re annoyed from standing in long lines and waiting for your luggage. You already know the immigration ban is in place because you saw it reported on CNN in the terminal. Now there’s no one to take you to your hotel downtown. You find out it’s because taxi drivers are striking due to an order you didn’t sign and had nothing to do with. You might not even support it. You might not even be a citizen of this country. But you have one more headache just because Trump did something the taxi drivers don’t like. Are you going to be more or less likely to support the taxi union?
Inconveniencing People Will Get You Very Few Fans
This isn’t to downplay the impact the immigration ban has had on Iraqi interpreters, Syrian Christian refugees who were deported on arrival, British politicians, and family members who can’t see their children.
But the taxi union and the liberals who deleted Uber did nothing to help them. The lawyers who went to the airport to file habeas pleas for detained passengers, and those who filed suits in federal courts, are the ones who actually helped those people.
Meanwhile, Lyft pledged very publicly to donate $1 million to the ACLU, thus earning itself valuable PR from liberal outlets. In a way, liberals who deleted Uber were ultimately helping Lyft profit from the situation.
Liberals who try to politicize everything outside of politics are doing themselves a disservice. It is counterproductive to their cause to inconvenience people. They might find this kind of thing wins them few fans.
Update: Kalanick has since announced that he has stepped down from the president’s business advisory council. This article has also been changed to reflect his financial contribution to Obama’s inauguration.