Have you grown exhausted by the latest marketing campaign or social media post made by a company you once thought was ideologically neutral? Honestly, I didn’t know that a KitchenAid stand mixer could even come with a politically-charged purpose, but it’s becoming harder and harder to find any brand that doesn’t place progressive activism or ideological agendas ahead of their customers. 

Why might this be happening? Well, at risk of sounding like I’m making claims that there’s a globalist, “woke” cabal, I’m indeed calling out the fact that there’s a globalist woke cabal behind the recent surge of companies producing marketing and advertising for the latest progressive cause, from race ideology to LGBTQ+ ideology to environmentalism and more.

Social Credit Scores Are a Sad Reality for the “Free” Market

You’ve probably heard a few acronyms thrown around, like DEI framework (short for diversity, equity, and inclusion) or ESG investing (short for environmental, social, and governance), but one which has been rising in notoriety is CEI. CEI stands for Corporate Equality Index, and like ESG, it serves as a social credit score or proverbial stamp of approval to prove if a company or organization is subservient enough to “woke” capital. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a publicly recognized score like your credit score, yet it still has the power to control and compel speech through coercion, threats, and more.

Organizations like The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) use lobbyists to funnel a list of demands to companies and organizations. If they’re found to be non-compliant with the demands, investors empowered by progressive “credit scores” like CEI then put pressure on the companies/organization’s boards, mobilize activists against them, stand in the way of business operations, and penalize those who continue to do business with them. 

Sound like a pie-in-the-sky, tinfoil hat conspiracy theory? Well, it’s not. They even spell it out for us! Look no further than the HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index Reports, a “national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees.” For two decades now, HRC has pushed for “growth in the adoption of these critical policies and practices.”

Consequently, 379 Fortune 500 employers participated in last year’s rating, and a total of 842 employers were top-scorers, granting them HRC’s “coveted title of ‘Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.’” If your company doesn’t demonstrate “an integration of intersectionality in professional development, skills-based or other training” or implement a “supplier diversity program with demonstrated effort to include certified LGBTQ+ suppliers,” then it will score lower.

human rights campaign CEI screenshot

Why is this title coveted in the first place, and who are the people behind CEI that give the score such power? The HRC was originally formed in 1980 and is now led by former Obama ’08 organizer Kelley Robinson. Before we move on, let’s clarify that I’m using HRC as a blanket acronym to discuss a few separate organizations under their big tent, such as the tax-deductible Human Rights Campaign Foundation (c)(3) and the non-tax-deductible Human Rights Campaign, Inc. 501(c)(4) which also serves as its lobbying wing.

HRC’s (c)(3) has freer rein under tax laws to receive charitable contributions from George Soros, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A substantial chunk of that funding can then be transferred to HRC’s lobbying arm, which then goes on to spend millions pushing policy change such as the Equality Act (which successfully passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019 and threatens religious freedoms and Title IX protections), federal funding for sex education featuring pro-LGBT content, path to citizenship infrastructure for “Dreamers,” and more.

This month, the HRC decided to declare a “state of emergency” for LGBTQ-identifying Americans in over a dozen states whom they believe have been affected by “anti-LBGTQ bills.” This is a direct reaction to the restriction of transgender-identifying athletes competing on sports teams of their choosing (which is justified, given that’s a total Title IX violation), as well as the restriction or outright banning of “gender-affirming care” (which is justified, given these treatments and surgeries are anything but “care.”) Way to dilute the meaning of a real, national state of emergency when, in reality, concerned adults are just trying to protect innocent children from the trans ideology!

Follow the Money…

What do you know? The HRC has received over one million dollars in funding for its charitable 501(c)(3) arm from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF)! Yes, this is the same Soros, the infamously liberal billionaire who has, through PAC contributions or his own donations, pumped at minimum $40 million into electing progressive prosecutors in District Attorney races over the past few years – which some believe has led to an uptick in violent crime. That’s only one piece of the Soros puzzle, however, as there’s no telling just how strong an impact the ideological empire which Soros built through OSF will have even after the 92-year-old philanthropist passes. 

But, my educated guess is that the ideologically Marxist organizations which have received Soros funding will continue to gain ground and shift the Overton window further left. That’s the overtly spelled-out goal of progressivism, anyhow. The HRC doesn’t just receive funding from Soros, as they have a large group of investors (corporations, foundations, and also individual members), but opt to redact the names of donors from publicly disclosed tax forms, as they’re allowed to do under tax law. 

Top corporate partners for the HRC that are public include, but are not limited to, Amazon, American Airlines, Google, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mastercard, Match Group, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Target, The Walt Disney Company, UPS, PayPal, SalesForce, and Visa.

Nevertheless, Woke Capitalism Is Backfiring

Surprise, surprise, though the HRC presents itself with an impeccably progressive track record, it still isn’t immune to left-wing criticism. Some left-of-center cultural critics have called them out for using CEI to further corporate fundraising interests rather than actually evaluate workplace experience.

Daily Beast writer Emily Shire once wrote that HRC’s criteria were “nebulous, arbitrary, and excessive,” and The Nation writer Richard Kim went so far as to accuse HRC’s criteria of being “an obscene form of pink-washing in which every banker, sweatshop overlord, and oil baron gets a gay star,” while “those gay activists not wholly in thrall to the corporate elite are running boycott campaigns against the remaining businesses (Chick-Fil-A, Barilla) too stupid to figure out that gay is gold.” 

For these critics, the HRC clearly wasn’t “woke” enough. But to really grasp what’s at stake here for our free market, we need to understand what wokeness actually is. Though the term woke was originally championed by the identity politics-obsessed left, this term has recently been usurped by the anti-identity politics right to encompass all things social justice, from queer theory to “race-baiting” to climate Marxism and more. 

In fact, the AP Stylebook had to issue an AP Style Tip this May to update the general public that they should now use quotation marks around the word woke since it originally was meant to describe racial and social justice enlightenment but is now being weaponized “in a derogatory sense” to call out “overreactions.”

How Far Will We Allow Culture To Go?

In a recent episode of High Noon, a podcast for conversations with heterodox thinkers hosted by Independent Women’s Forum senior policy analyst Inez Stepman, she and recurring guest Emily Jashinsky, Culture Editor at The Federalist, discussed how culturally, Americans actually aren’t posing a threat to the queer communities. The HRC, however, wants you to believe otherwise, which is why they assign companies social credit scores based on just how publicly committed they are to advancing the LGBTQ+ agenda.

Stepman explained that there are various levels of sanction for “non-normative activity,” such as not putting same-sex kiss scenes in children’s movies or perhaps not enforcing that third graders learn about same-sex relationships in public schooling. That’s entirely different from enacting laws against same-sex couples or tyrannically enforcing said laws, like the recently signed death sentence legislation in Uganda. Stepman points out that while she – and most other right-of-center individuals – doesn’t want to live in a society that ruthlessly enforces Christian morals by law, most would likely prefer societies that normatively enforce certain values that contribute to a common good. 

Without a doubt, there can and will be those who choose to live life differently from the norm (a.k.a. marriage between a man and a woman with the intent to have children), but there’s no harm in people collectively understanding that this norm is an ideal for “the good life.”

I wager that if you asked even some of the most conservative Americans, most wouldn’t be in favor of bringing back sodomy laws. I’m sure that most are comfortable with public gay bars existing, but they just don’t want their children invited inside to watch drag performances. Recent polling suggests that over 70% of Americans are tolerant of same-sex marriage (just 10 years ago, there was a near-even divide), but as Jashinsky alludes to later in the episode, with many of these hot-button cultural issues, Americans face tension due to their priorities, not their ideology. 

Because we have this growing inability to calmly hash out moral issues, behemoth social justice organizations like the HRC can swoop in and take the responsibility of making normative declarations for culture. First, they seek change through economic pressure and then eventually through influencing legislation. While it may seem that companies are just “suddenly going woke,” this is not the case. 

Buycotts and Boycotts: We May Witness the Death of CEI

I’ll give some companies the benefit of the doubt. They might not fully understand that they’re playing into a Marxist scheme, and they might not actually have any interest in alienating and making enemies out of half the country. In all likelihood, they see who holds capital (global elites who control the future of central banking, like BlackRock) that would help them advance their business goals, and so they aspire to become a part of this promising digital dollar economy.

It’s also understandable that companies may find new target demographic niches alluring to capitalize on for marketing so they can reach new audiences and find further success in business. One example of this is how cosmetics brands have expanded their marketing to include men (those who identify as transgender, or not!) because makeup and skincare industries have historically relied on only half of the American population (women) for revenue.

Give Them an Inch, and They’ll Take a Mile

But, as society becomes increasingly “tolerant,” adopting campaigns based on gender ideology or body positivity, it’s inadvertently giving in to socialist ideals. This tolerance looks more like conform, or your head is on the chopping block. The bourgeoisie (elites) divide the proletariats (you or me) on social issues, and if we do not fall in lockstep with their progressive line of thinking, our jobs are at stake, our bank accounts may get shut down, or we may face violent threats.

This isn’t just senseless alarmism. This is happening all around us. Remember when, in the beauty influencer world, content creator Amanda Ensing was deplatformed for her conservative, Christian views and lost a potentially life-changing brand partnership with Sephora? There’s a reason why we’re seeing a parallel economy emerge, but it really shouldn’t have to be this way.

But again, think back to the left-of-center critics who don’t think the HRC takes it far enough. If it continues to be given power, CEI can and will be leveraged as a purity test because, as I mentioned before, the “Progressive Left” is the side currently crafting the normative declaration of culture. And, because the goal of Marxism is a classless society, abolition of personal autonomy, and full conquest of political power, they will stop at nothing to achieve this.

Consumers Have More Power To Push Back

So a brand like Target or Anheuser Busch (Bud Light) will play into identity politics, and in response, those who are right-of-center then weaponize woke corporate indexes against the system. Go woke? Customers can instead pick the lowest-rated stores (or those who don’t even bother to report to CEI) and choose to shop there in a “buycott.” More recently, we’ve seen many people participate in outright brand boycotts.

The Target boycott, which originally started after the company released its Pride Month line offering LGBTQ+ clothing for children designed by a satanist, or the Bud Lite boycott, which began after parent company Anheuser Busch chose a controversial transgender-identifying social media influencer to market their products are grassroots movements that demonstrate the true economic power wielded by the proletariat.

You should note, however, that these boycotts are different in nature from the cancel culture conformity we see coming from the left, as they are a natural reaction from the free market and are not being dictated by oligarchic rule. Very recently, 19 Republican-majority states signed a letter accusing JPMorgan of closing bank accounts based on religious or political grounds. Say what you want about the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, but was it fair for JPMorgan to cut him off from his bank based on his speech? 

Many right-of-center organizations have been barred from using the payment platform PayPal, like the Daily Sceptic or Gays Against Groomers. This is fundamentally different from conservative boycotts, as it’s more similar to an oligarchic gavel bearing down on free speech rights granted to us by our Constitution. Alas, these rights are now circumvented by the bourgeoisie. 

Here’s the thing though: Buycotts and boycotts actually work when they’re done right. Why do you think Target has faced massive profit losses (aside from struggling with organized retail theft, which, by the way, is only made worse by Soros-funded DAs) or how Bud Light lost $27 billion by the end of May 2023? What about how we didn’t see the usual volume of brands changing their social media profile pictures to be rainbow versions in observation of Pride Month? Clearly, alienating customers through woke capitalism just isn’t working the same anymore.

Closing Thoughts

We know through analyses that companies that take no political or social stances typically perform best. This can only continue to be the case if we raise awareness about politically progressive corporate index scores from CEI to ESG. CEI – stated to strengthen workplace equality – ironically makes for more hostile work environments as employees operate under fear of not being allowed to express their unique opinions. Companies do have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet, operate ethically, and embrace genuine diversity, equity, and inclusion, but the framework that woke capitalism is building and enforcing upon business owners frankly misses the mark.

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