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Breaking News Alert This Week In Lawfare Land: Bragg's 'Star Witness' Blows Up His Own Credibility

Big Businesses Are Still Woke, They’ve Just Learned To Be Quieter About It

While it seems that conservatives are pushing businesses and nonprofit organizations to return to more neutral positions, it’s all a facade.


Anheuser-Busch lost $27 billion of its market capitalization in the wake of the Dylan Mulvaney controversy. Target partnered with a satanist and saw its stock price tumble roughly 18.5 percent, despite Mark Cuban’s protestations that going woke is good for business. The University of Arkansas is dissolving its Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (full disclosure: I was on its advisory board).

The Los Angeles Dodgers went ahead with hosting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, though their appearance was an hour before the game began and in the face of faithful protests. Left-wing publication The American Prospect laments that the “fascist right” is “bullying” companies away from supporting so-called LGBT rights. The Wall Street Journal reports that businesses are stepping away from discussing diversity and sustainability “amid culture war boycotts.”

Go woke, go broke? Eh, not so fast. For while it seems that conservatives are making strides in the culture wars and pushing businesses and nonprofit organizations to return to more neutral positions, it’s all a facade. The only battle we’ve won is to get businesses to stop discussing, as the Journal headline notes, those issues. When it comes to financial support and the causes themselves, many large corporations and organizations are still true believers.

Follow the Money

The Trevor Project, which is all in on grooming and genital mutilation for children, boasts an impressive list of corporate partners. Brands bend over backward to get a good score from the Corporate Equality Index, an organization that rewards businesses for going woke. More than 5,000 businesses worldwide are working with the United Nations on its economically crippling plans to thwart a cyclical climate. Starting in 2024, movies must meet certain diversity requirements in order to be eligible for an Oscar, because acting is apparently taboo now.

In other words, it’s not go woke, go broke. It’s go woke, be a little quieter about it and things will hopefully be fine. Move the pride stuff to the back of the store. Don’t mention how your firm is working to appease BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street Bank on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues, and have the “nuns” perform well before the ball game starts.

From influencing elections to meddling with school curriculum to gaming the ESG movement, which is awful even when it’s not being gamed, Big Business is still woke.

Seizing the Means of Propaganda

These new moves are somewhat positive, though. They show that businesses are feeling the pressure. They show that consumers still have a voice and can remind merchants that, you know, they’re supposed to be in the business of selling goods and services instead of selling societal change.

Anheuser-Busch and Target made the mistake of playing to a section of the market, the one of their leaders’ milieus, but not the overall market. Americans are divided about whether businesses should take a public stance on political and social issues, with 48 percent believing they should and 52 percent saying they should not. Among 18-29-year-olds, that support swells to 59 percent. When it comes to Democrats, the number balloons to 75 percent. But given the divided nature of our political preferences, that means that playing politics risks alienating up to half of your potential customer base.

These debacles did not teach corporations the real lesson, however, and they’re now attempting to channel Sun Tzu rather than going neutral. As the military strategist wrote in “The Art of War,” “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” For now, some corporations are retrenching into the darkness and attempting to make their plans impenetrable, not abandoning them altogether. But as Sun Tzu also wrote, “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” And they are offering us an opportunity now that we’ve started playing effective defense.

The world they’re selling is ugly and divisive, but beauty still exists, it still captivates, it still inspires, and we can still use it to unite people and win. All we have to do is seize the means of propaganda from them, as Isaac Simpson wrote at The American Mind, and start offering our own messaging. We need to tell real, inspiring stories about real Americans and their hopes and dreams instead of standing by while the ESG commissars tell fairy tales about what they would like Americans to be. That doesn’t mean demanding that corporations cater to our political beliefs and start offering Freedom Beer and Constitution Cornbread, but that we push our bosses and marketing teams to speak to everyone instead of identity groups. It means sticking with the protests when brands lecture us and try to foist divisive issues upon us.

It also means capturing and sharing ideals that animate us all rather than segments of us, ideals about liberty and family and faith and upward mobility, about aspiring to be better tomorrow than we are today. For as “Maverick” showed us, nurturing grievances doesn’t inspire people, entertaining them with beautiful winners does. And that beauty not only unites us — it can be good for business.

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