Why Boycotting Goya Foods is a stupid idea.
I continue to be shocked and appalled by the vitriol unleashed against fellow Americans whose supposed crime against humanity consists of voting for Trump or showing any support for his presidency.
Goya Foods is now being boycotted because its CEO, Robert Unanue, stood near the president in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon and uttered these words:
“It’s such an honor and such a blessing to be here in the greatest country in the world, the most prosperous country in the world, and we continue to grow. And that’s what we’re here to do today. Our company was founded in 1936 by my grandfather, who left Spain at only 18 years old, did not know where he was heading, but he was heading and looking for opportunity and prosperity, and he found it in this great country. Today our company is a multi-billion-dollar company with thousands of employees and with facilities all around the globe. We have a tremendous group of what we call 'la grand familia Goya,' the Goya family, the great Goya family. And these are people, I told the president earlier, we haven’t gone back to work. We never stopped working. Because when I asked our group, our family, this is going to be a tough thing, they said “Look, Bob, if we don’t do it, nobody will.” And they stood up and they worked, and we continue to work day and night to provide much needed food and nutrition to this country."
“Today it gives me great honor – and, by the way, we’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder, and that’s what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so we have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”
According to the Washington Post, Unanue was at the White House to help celebrate “Trump’s signing of an executive order that pledges to improve Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities…”
So, of course we must boycott Goya products because its CEO lauded America as the land of opportunity and spoke kind words about the president.
I can imagine either or both of two sources for such behavior by the boycotters. One is ideological/emotional. The other is strategic. Many, though fortunately not all, Democrats, liberals, and progressives are so genuinely disgusted with all things Trump that their disgust spills over to include not only the president but all those who voted for him or support him or are not as disgusted with him as they are. Then there’s the strategic rationale for boycotting and shunning. If people who speak up for the president or share the podium with him or publicly agree with him on any policy issue can be silenced or scared off by having their lives and livelihoods threatened, then his public support can be reduced and the odds of his re-election will be diminished.
I doubt the wisdom of boycotting a company because its CEO expresses support for a duly elected president or senator or governor or other national or state or local official or candidate for public office. If a company does something illegal or immoral, then it might be appropriate to stop doing business with that company or stop buying its products or services. But unless we want the United States to split in half (again), we should think long and hard about the damage that can be done to the body politic, to any remaining sense of national cohesion, to the continued opportunity of participating together in this approximately 250 year old experiment in democracy, if we stop associating with everyone and penalize everyone and seek to damage everyone who votes for the other major party’s candidates or who expresses support for those candidates through words or deeds. I am very concerned about the chilling effect this basis for boycotting might have on political expression in our country.
There are many actions we can legally take that we ought not to take. Shouting racial slurs at someone, but without making threatening movements, may not rise to the legal level of assault or constitute a hate crime, but it’s still wrong. Boycotting a business and urging others to boycott a business because of the partisan political preference expressed by its owner may be legal yet wrong-headed.