Charticle on Palm Beach Freedom Institute

ChartCharityArt.com / Chart – Palm Beach Freedom Institute, founded by PBFI President Paul du Quenoy and lawyer Robert Allen in 2021, is standing up for civil rights and the principles of the American Founding. Like-minded supporters have found the grass-roots organization and its power and influence has grown exponentially in a few short years. This innovative dynamic group of passionate freedom-lovers is continuously supporting efforts to maintain Constitutional freedoms for citizens in Palm Beach, the United States and internationally. PBFI creatively ties into local organizations such as the Palm Beach Symphony by sponsoring a composer of a freedom-themed symphonic overture to be performed at the opening night of the symphony’s 50th Anniversary season on Nov. 19, 2023.

Stop Defending Yourselves, New Yorkers!

The city prosecutes another case of subway self-defense.

City Journal – You may have heard of the latest installment in New York City’s new fad—arresting people for defending themselves and others against violent criminals on the city’s decrepit subway system.

Last week, while riding a northbound J train through once-posh Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 20-year-old Jordan Williams and his girlfriend were accosted by Devictor Ouedraogo, a 36-year-old ex-con who had served three and a half years in prison for an attempted robbery. After completing his term, Ouedraogo was released to the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), suggesting that he is or was an illegal immigrant.

According to eyewitnesses, Ouedraogo was verbally and physically harassing other passengers in the subway car before approaching Williams and his girlfriend, who remains unnamed and has not commented on the incident. After Ouedraogo propositioned his girlfriend, Williams verbally warned him to back off. Ouedraogo allegedly responded by punching both Williams and his girlfriend in the face.

In what sounds like a legal exercise of the right to self-defense under New York law, Williams then reportedly rose to protect himself, his girlfriend, and others from Ouedraogo, who fought back. During the altercation, Williams pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed Ouedraogo, who stumbled out of the subway at the next stop. He received medical attention but later died at a hospital. As with Jordan Neely, the homeless drug addict with a criminal record who died after being restrained in a chokehold by Daniel Penny last month, no autopsy of Ouedraogo has been released, fanning speculation that the results could indicate serious drug abuse.

Williams and his girlfriend continued their subway ride, but NYPD officers apprehended them at a station down the line shortly afterward. Williams was arrested and charged with manslaughter and “criminal possession of a weapon.” (Knives are forbidden on city transit, though this has not stopped knife incidents from increasing 126 percent over last year.)

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office wanted Williams held at Riker’s Island on $100,000 bail, an impossible sum for him and his family to pay, but last Thursday a judge released him from custody without bail, in part because his employment record at FedEx suggested that he was neither a career criminal nor a flight risk. Unfortunately, FedEx fired Williams the next day, showing little interest in the facts of the case or in now-quaint notions about the presumption of innocence.

While Williams faced potential pretrial detention, his mother April created an appeal on the donor-funded Christian website GiveSendGo for his legal expenses. This appeal was similar to one created for Penny, who was required to pay bail and faces prosecution for manslaughter as well as a civil wrongful-death lawsuit from Neely’s relatives. The appeal has raised more than $100,000, mostly in small donations from people around the country outraged by Williams’s arrest.

You won’t hear much about Williams’s case in the mainstream media. Why? While Penny’s case was a rare occurrence of a white man accused of killing a black man, the confrontation between Williams and Ouedraogo, both black, was just one of innumerable cases of black-on-black violence. As such, it could not be of less interest to the liberals who appear to care only about crime reports that implicate “oppressors” victimizing the “oppressed.”

Unlike with the Neely case, no outcry ensued from leading politicians and media personalities denouncing Ouedraogo’s killing as a “murder.” Social media didn’t celebrate Ouedraogo as a warm character or lionize him as a martyr to racial justice. No protests have marked his death. No one has come forward to claim monetary damages stemming from his loss. No suggestion has been made that he be buried in a casket of ivory and gold, as Neely was. No op-eds have mused on the incident as damning evidence of “toxic masculinity,” a quality only ascribed to white males, despite disastrous minority crime rates that none dare mention.

Williams’s family has suggested that the only commonality between the two cases is that they both happened on the subway. Yet both appear by all available evidence to be straightforward cases of self-defense by brave young men now being prosecuted by left-wing district attorneys. New Yorkers should vote out every public official who thinks so little of their rights and dignity.

Prosecuting Donald Trump Only Makes Him More Popular

Newsweek – “The only good thing about it is that it’s driving my poll numbers way up,” said former president Donald J. Trump in a speech last Saturday to the Georgia Republican Party convention. There, and in a similar speech to the North Carolina GOP a few hours later, Trump was rapturously greeted as he framed his federal indictment as the latest installment in a political witch hunt that’s been underway since he declared his first presidential candidacy in 2015.

Even as liberal and Never Trumper Republican pundits gleefully calculated the number of years the former president could spend behind bars if convicted, the second indictment has merely done what all Trump’s previous legal woes have: make him stronger. Over the weekend, a straw poll conducted by the Western Conservative Summit, an annual gathering in Colorado, gave Trump a five-point lead over his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who had led Trump in the same contest in each of the two previous years. According to a CBS/YouGov poll taken after the indictment and released on Sunday, Trump commands the support of 61 percent of likely Republican primary voters, enjoying a crushing 38-point lead over DeSantis. No other candidate for the GOP nomination held the support of more than four percent of likely GOP voters.

Earlier this year, Trump’s lead over DeSantis, who only declared his candidacy in May, averaged around 17 points in a collection of polls published at RealClearPolitics. After the former president’s indictment on weak charges by New York County district attorney Alvin L. Bragg in March, his lead rose to around 30 points, while a finding of civil liability for sexual battery and defamation in a lawsuit secretly funded by a major Democratic donor made no dent in his ratings.

Trump’s improved ratings are consistent with the pattern set by past impeachments, which implicated the president in far more serious possible crimes than storing documents from his administration at his private residence and discussing with counsel what to do with them. After his first impeachment, for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress,” his approval rose by six points. Similarly, when Trump’s predecessor Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, Clinton’s approval ratings rose 10 percent.

The same CBS/YouGov poll found that 76 percent of likely Republican voters believe the indictment was politically motivated. A similar percentage said their level of support for the former president stayed the same or increased after the indictment, while only seven percent reported a negative effect. Eighty percent agree that Trump should be able to serve as president even if convicted. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, the day before Trump surrendered himself for arraignment in federal court in Miami, found that 81 percent of Republicans believe the charges are politically motivated. These figures are not unanimous, but they go far beyond the 30 to 35 percent of Republicans who, analysts estimate, constitute Trump’s base.

Strikingly, with the exception of long-shot candidates like Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie, Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination have publicly supported him and denounced the new indictment as a political act. One of them, entrepreneur and media personality Vivek Ramaswamy, has pledged to pardon Trump as the first act of his presidency should Trump be convicted and Ramaswamy elected. DeSantis, who took a “no comment” position on Trump’s first indictment, has pledged a thorough house cleaning of the Justice Department to correct what the Florida governor now characterizes as an uneven application of the law with regard to Trump. According to the CBS/YouGov poll, 74 percent of likely Republican voters want a candidate who is “similar to Trump” if Trump is not the GOP’s nominee.

Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ill-fated invasion of Ukraine had the unintended consequence of strengthening NATO, persistent attempts to hobble Donald Trump through legal jeopardy have proved a powerful external force to unite the Republican Party behind the former president, whom many wrote off as politically dead after the disappointing 2022 midterm elections and a series of faux pas that followed.

Trump is resilient. Every day, he luxuriates in free publicity generously provided by all major media outlets across the political spectrum. He is defended by virtually everyone who counts in his party, almost all of whose rank-and-files members viscerally identify with his claims of persecution and believe that a capricious administrative-managerial caste is or will be targeting them with equal malevolence. Partisan insistence that the indictment is not political is falling on deaf ears as, increasingly, will other Democrat-led keystone cop attempts to “Get Trump,” regardless of how grounded they are in law. In advance of the former president’s arraignment, Trump pledged to continue his campaign even if convicted.

If the Democrats want to prevail over Trump in 2024, they will have to find far better strategies than convincing half the country that they are weaponizing law enforcement to remove the de facto leader of the opposition in the manner of a threatened banana republic supremo. Otherwise, as Trump announced on his Truth Social platform, it is they who could be a political opposition facing an unfriendly Justice Department.

Communal Apartments?

City JournalNew York City mayor Eric Adams proposes compensating homeowners to house new migrants.

“The proletarian state has to forcibly move a very poor family into a rich man’s flat,” wrote Vladimir Lenin in October 1917, just days before his Bolshevik Party violently seized the reins of Russia’s government. Lenin’s musing set the tone for Soviet housing policy for the next 40 years. During that time, the urban population was largely compelled to reside in “communal apartments,” subdivisions of prerevolutionary housing stock that the Soviet government had expropriated from its rightful owners.

New York City mayor Eric Adams seems to be advocating a similar arrangement following a sharp uptick in the number of illegal immigrants seeking asylum in his distressed city after the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed U.S. authorities swiftly to turn back migrants at the border. After months of pleading that the 45,900 migrants currently housed by New York municipal authorities were straining city resources and finances to the breaking point, Adams floated the idea that compensating private homeowners who house migrants might be the answer. “They have spare rooms. They have locales,” Adams suggested of Gotham homeowners, declaring “we should take this crisis and go to opportunities” that involve “private residences.”

Adams has refrained from criticizing the Biden administration for losing control of the southern border, but he had a number of ideas on how to handle New York’s predicament. Last October, he declared a “state of emergency” and asked the federal government for $1 billion to meet the costs of arriving migrants. (Last month, New York governor Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency and requested federal funds.) More recently, Adams has housed migrants in elementary school gymnasiums (while classes were in session), made a deal with religious leaders to lodge male migrants at 50 places of worship around the city, bussed migrants at city expense to upstate New York and Canada, and called on small towns and cities across the country to help ease New York’s migrant burden. In his latest fiasco, Adams spent millions of dollars in public funds to rent upscale hotel rooms for migrants, only to be scandalized by the behavior of some, who have allegedly trashed their pricey accommodations.

Manhattan residence and tenancy laws limit what the mayor can do about private accommodations, but Adams says he is looking for ways to use his “power” to get around any adverse “rules.” He’s not the first mayor to try to do this. In his 2019 State of the City address, Adams’s predecessor Bill de Blasio threatened landlords, saying that he would “seize their buildings” and “put them in the hands of a community nonprofit” if his administration decided that they were negligent. He pledged to create a new authority within the mayor’s office for that purpose and announced his intention to transform at least 40 multiple-dwelling buildings per year into what he described as “responsible, mission driven ownership.” The website of New York City’s public advocate office maintains a list of the city’s “100 worst landlords”—a ranking that has even included the city’s own housing authority—likely as a pretext for future seizures. New York State eminent-domain law, which provides for compulsory sales of property marked by the government for conversion to “public use,” is among the country’s most hostile to property owners, and state courts have enforced notoriously low standards for its application. Even without such extreme measures, stories of New Yorkers threatened with property seizures over even minor unpaid city bills have circulated for years.

In this environment, leftist activist groups such as Open New York have called for the redistribution of unoccupied apartments to low-income groups. This would likely suit New York Democrats like de Blasio, who was enamored of Nicaragua’s Communist Sandinista government in the 1980s, married a feminist collectivist, and secretly honeymooned with her in Communist Cuba. In a frank interview with New York in 2016, de Blasio stated that “if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land” and “determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.” Welcome to Moscow.

Communal apartments in the bad old USSR weren’t a lot of fun. Soviet Communism developed the concept out of Marxism’s doctrinal hostility to private property. If private property was ideologically objectionable, then housing and its distribution were matters of public policy to be determined by government officials. The general rule apportioned any qualified Soviet individual nine square meters of space, with larger allotments for families based on size. In thousands of mini-revolutions, former owners found themselves confined to one or two rooms of their once-sprawling homes, with the rest of the living space given over to the urban poor, low-level functionaries of the new Communist state, Red Army soldiers, and others thought to be deserving of what was officially called “resettlement.” Bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, entrances, chores, and other common phenomena were shared. Privacy was nil. Petty grudges and antagonisms were facts of everyday life.

By the 1960s, even Lenin’s eventual successors considered it better to build new single-family housing in outlying sections of Soviet cities than to follow the old communal policy. Millions of Soviet citizens took advantage of private accommodations as quickly as construction and party red tape allowed, but the older revolutionary concept never completely died out. More than a century after the Bolshevik Revolution, it has been estimated that as much as 10 percent of Russia’s urban residents still live in communal arrangements. Retrograde as their lives are, they could represent New York’s future if the far Left ever gets its way.

Failing Grade – The “Nation’s Report Card”

City Journal – The “Nation’s Report Card” shows the sharpest-ever decline in history and civics.

It’s that least wonderful time of the year: every other spring, as flowers bloom, the National Center for Education Statistics releases the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This series of standardized tests is administered biannually to a representative sampling of American students at three benchmark grade levels—fourth, eighth, and twelfth—to determine their performance in several subject areas.

The results for 2022, which were released in early May, registered a steep decline in eighth-graders’ knowledge and comprehension of history and civics. Only an abysmal 13 percent of students rated as “proficient” in history, while just 22 percent reached proficiency in civics.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona tried to blame the poor showing on the pandemic, a lack of funding for schools, and “censorship,” but the plain fact is that classes in history and civics are disappearing. Only seven states require civics instruction at any time up to eighth grade, and it is almost exclusively Republican state lawmakers who advocate such a requirement, usually over ferocious Democratic opposition. Just 49 percent of eighth-graders report having taken a civics class, while 68 percent had taken a U.S. history class. The history figure may seem more encouraging, but it still means that nearly one-third of American eighth-graders have never been taught the history of their country in any methodical way, while more than half haven’t had any classes in how American government functions.

For those who have taken such courses, the content is often lackluster. A study by the RAND Corporation found that in 2019, the last year before the pandemic, only 32 percent of social studies teachers in public high schools believed that it was “absolutely essential” to “know facts” such as the locations of the 50 states or the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That figure registered only a slight decline from the 36 percent who thought so in RAND’s 2010 study. The drop was much steeper, however, when educators were asked how important it was “to be knowledgeable about periods such as the American Founding, the Civil War, and the Cold War”—that is, more general subjects and interpretive trends. While 63 percent thought so in 2010, by 2019 the figure had fallen to just 43 percent.

If our nation’s teachers de-emphasize factual knowledge, it should come as no surprise that students’ history NAEP scores plummet.

On the civics side, the picture is nearly as bleak. Only 53 percent of social studies teachers in 2019 believed it essential to understand such bedrock constitutional principles as federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances, compared with 64 percent who thought so in 2010. Some 65 percent of social studies teachers still believed it important to teach their students about the protections guaranteed by the Constitution (down from 83 percent nine years earlier). While still relatively high, that number yields a depressing 35 percent who would exclude our most basic and foundational civil rights from essential classroom learning.

The slide in history and civics mirrors what has happened in our colleges and universities, which are responsible for training K–12 teachers in those subjects. Once a bastion of unassailable empiricism and scholarly rigor, the academic humanities as taught in the United States—including history and civics—have taken a nosedive. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of history majors fell by some 50 percent, following a gentler but steady decline over the previous 30 years. Unsurprisingly, that pre-pandemic decade corresponds with the increasing presence on campus of identity politics, Marxist rhetoric that reduces history to a struggle between oppressors and the oppressed, and other ideological innovations that discourage all but the most aggrieved students from engaging these subjects.

Data clearly bear out this analysis. According to the 2019 RAND survey, social studies teachers placed the highest educational value on being “tolerant of people and groups who are different from themselves,” with 80 percent finding this “absolutely essential” and 92 percent feeling “confident” that their students would master that characteristic by graduation. In 2022, some 54 percent of teachers identified “conflict resolution” as the “most important aim” of civics education, with a worrisome 27 percent naming environmental activism and 20 percent “reducing racism” as the objective of civics instruction.

Non-majors have little difficulty avoiding such subjects in the pursuit of more practical and remunerative degrees. According to a 2016 study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, only 18 percent of colleges and universities require even a single semester of American history, meaning that millions of college-educated parents also have little or no knowledge of history and civics to pass on to their children.

Attempts to change this state of affairs provoke fierce opposition. In April, when North Carolina’s legislature moved to establish a one-semester civics requirement in state institutions, 673 faculty members at the flagship University of North Carolina signed an open letter protesting what they characterized as an attempt “to violate the principles of academic freedom and shared governance.” The self-perpetuating and largely unaccountable accreditation authorities also went to work, suggesting that the course—as well as a nonpartisan civics studies center suggested earlier in the year—could prompt the revocation of accredited status from North Carolina schools. The proposed course’s reading list includes, among other texts, the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. These are all materials that should turn up on NAEP history and civics tests, but they could also raise questions about why an academic establishment given to illiberal ideologies might see robust public knowledge of U.S. history and civics as a threat. It might be no surprise that the open letter’s co-author, UNC history professor Jay Smith, is a specialist on royal absolutism under France’s Old Regime.

Confront thieves, get fired: welcome to retail in America’s cities

Lululemon dismissed two employees who dared to stand up to repeat shoplifters.

The Spectator  – “Chill, bitch, shut your ass up,” graciously replied a shoplifter to former Lululemon assistant manager Jennifer Ferguson earlier this month, when she told him and two accomplices to stop robbing the suburban Atlanta store where she worked.

Ferguson and her colleague Rachel Rogers had good reason to be fed up. The same trio, which was arrested the following day after bystanders reported a separate robbery to the police, had allegedly burgled the same store a dozen times in recent weeks. When Ferguson told them “No, no, no, you can march back out,” the alleged thieves had already raided the store’s shelves yet again and were preparing for a second round, which they then carried out. According to Rogers, their scheme is to steal the brand’s expensive merchandise and then return it elsewhere for a cash refund. When they left the second time, she and Ferguson called 911.

Ferguson and Rogers captured the confrontation on video, complete with their trying to chase the men out of the store while verbally confronting them. Two weeks later, after a corporate review, Lululemon fired both employees over Zoom and without severance, purportedly for violating a “zero-tolerance” policy that forbids Lululemon staff from confronting shoplifters. Ferguson, who believes she and Rogers were fired for calling the police, says that the standard procedure pushed by corporate headquarters is to “clear a path” in the face of criminal activity, scan a QR quote to account for the missing merchandise, make no written notice that it was stolen, and generally keep their mouths shut for fear of inviting controversy. “We’re not supposed to call the police, not really supposed to talk about it,” she said.

Why would a corporate policy be so generous to shoplifters — to the point that they would hit the same establishment thirteen times before encountering any consequences — and so punitive to loyal staff trying to protect their employer’s assets?

After a few days of criticism, Lululemon tried to make its case in detail, telling Business Insider that Ferguson and Rogers “were terminated for knowingly violating our zero-tolerance policy related to physically engaging with the perpetrators which put their lives and the safety of our guests and other employees at risk.” There is no evidence, however, that either employee “physically engaged” the shoplifters. As their phone videos plainly reveal, their engagement was limited to verbal interaction and a non-tactile chase. There was no indication that either of them was ever at any risk greater than being told in a less than polite manner to “chill.”

A likelier explanation is that Lululemon has a certain image to protect, even if it is frequently accused of shaming customer body image. The high-end athleisure company is, after all, a preferred brand of lean suburban white women who buy into progressive ideology as haplessly as they acquire overpriced stretch pants to make their posteriors look firmer. They engage so fiercely in symbolic combat that when Lululemon founder and CEO Chip Wilson dared suggest his wares were not designed for ladies with fat thighs, he was forced to resign. In 2021, his successor Calvin McDonald announced that the company’s innovation team would be dissolved, and that the executive leading it would also resign, because his domain had been catastrophically named “Whitespace.” Lululemon has presented its public commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and the whole rest of the progressive package, with a compliance as abject and, at the risk of using an unpopular word, slavish as that of any company fearing backlash in post-George Floyd America.

It only stands to reason that a brand so obsessed with virtue-signaling would run as far as it could from any nexus with law enforcement or the now-politically incorrect suggestion that it has a right to protect its assets from common thieves. Even losing tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise to the Atlanta heist crew that Ferguson and Rogers engaged at the cost of their livelihoods is preferable to a corporate image tarnished by resort to the police, whom the progressive left regards as agents of violence and white supremacy. As Ferguson and Rogers painfully learned, employees who do not go along with this progressive utopian vision are expendable.

Downscale from Lululemon, major blue cities now refuse to prosecute theft up to around $900 in value. In April, when New York City Walgreens security guard and twenty-year NYPD veteran Salvatore Lopiccolo was struck in the head by a shoplifter whom he confronted about robbing his store for the second time in the same day, it was Lopiccolo who was arrested, criminally charged, and required to surrender his firearm, leaving him unable to do his job for the indefinite future.

Last July, New York bodega worker Jose Alba was charged with second-degree murder for defending himself against a workplace assailant who did not survive the encounter. Only a massive public outcry got Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg’s office to drop the charges.

Bragg, who also recently charged subway Samaritan Daniel Penny with second-degree manslaughter for what witnesses say was an attempt to protect himself and them from a mentally ill harasser threatening bodily harm, notoriously downgraded 52 percent of violent felony offenses to misdemeanors in 2022, his disastrous first year in office. During the same year, New York City’s rate of major crimes rose by over 30 percent.

Ferguson and Rogers should be reinstated with back pay, an apology, and heartfelt appreciation for attempting to spare their former employer victimization and loss. Until all Americans are as bold as they are, however, civil peace and justice will only be ensured by sullen mass acceptance of our own victimization.

Target Is the Latest Proof—Going Woke Means Going Broke

Newsweek – “I think those are just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand.” That’s how Target CEO Brian Cornell described his company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in mid-May, when conservatives objecting to flamboyantly pro-LGBTQ+ merchandise declared a boycott of the low-end retailer. Within just 10 days of Cornell’s statement, Target lost $10 billion, watched its stock price fall daily, and proved yet again that going woke means going broke.

Suffering an unmitigated sales and public relations disaster, Target removed some of the offensive merchandise—which included “tuck-friendly” swimwear—and moved other items to more discreet parts of its stores, walking back the supposed wisdom of marketing to a marginal fringe that advocates a radical gender ideology most Americans reject.

Target, of course, is not alone. Just before its debacle, Anheuser-Busch’s beer brand Bud Light cost its parent company more than $15 billion and over 23 percent of its stock valuation in just six weeks after it employed transgender social media personality Dylan Mulvaney to promote its product. Nike and Maybelline, companies for which Mulvaney also recently did promotions, were likewise targeted for boycotts—by feminists who objected to a biological male modeling women’s sports bras and cosmetics. Anheuser-Busch could not even give away Bud Light for free, and suffered the indignity of musician Kid Rock machine-gunning a case of it, declaring “F**k Bud Light and f**k Anheuser Busch” and removing the company’s products from his music tours. Anheuser-Busch’s marketing vice president, Alissa Heinerscheid, who spearheaded the campaign, was placed on leave, as was vice president for mainstream brands Daniel Blake.

Apparel manufacturer North Face removed controversial products from sale after critics objected to its “Summer of Pride” campaign launched by a drag queen.

As of this writing, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team faces a $1 million boycott campaign funded by CatholicVote, the nation’s largest Catholic advocacy organization, which objects to the team’s invitation of a drag group that mocks Christianity. Chick-fil-A, a fast food chain once boycotted by the Left because its management opposed gay marriage, now faces a right-wing boycott after announcing that it will be “embedding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in everything we do.”

Last year, Disney tried to use its social and economic clout to defeat a Florida state law restricting sexual content in public education for children under the age of eight. The law passed anyway. For its trouble, Disney lost previously unquestioned tax and administrative concessions first granted by the state in 1967. It now faces a lengthy, expensive, and uncertain legal battle to preserve some of them; its opponent, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, was reelected in a landslide last November and is now a leading candidate for the U.S. presidency. Since August 2022, Disney‘s stock price has fallen by one-third with no sign of recovery. This month, it reported the loss of four million subscribers to its Disney+ online streaming service. It also announced 7,000 layoffs and a $1 billion reduction in planned capital investment.

When Netflix introduced politicized content on a large scale in 2021, it watched its stock price fall about two-thirds by September 2022 and saw more than $50 billion in market capitalization disappear. Also facing a disastrous decline in subscribers, Netflix laid off hundreds of employees who had been hired to produce woke content and sent a memo informing the rest that “you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful,” and that if they objected “Netflix may not be the best place for you.” Nine months later, content has improved, millions of subscribers have returned, and Netflix’s stock price has recovered nearly half of its losses.

In the final quarter of 2022, BlackRock, the behemoth asset management firm, reported losing $4 billion in invested assets after its management committed to ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing, which underperforms strictly profit-driven investment strategies. Lost funds included assets belonging to eight U.S. states, and a larger number of states since opted to prohibit or limit ESG investing of public funds and have sought judicial intervention to block a Biden administration rule allowing it in public-sector retirement funds. In February 2023, the CEO of Vanguard, one of BlackRock’s major competitors, publicly announced that his firm would abandon certain ESG investments and focus on its fiduciary duties to clients.

Across the corporate world, the lesson is clear. Messaging support for radical ideologies antagonizes far more Americans than it attracts. Those who are offended readily spend their dollars elsewhere while woke executives shake their heads, lose their jobs, and watch profits flow to competitors smart enough to stay out of politics. Meanwhile, the progressive Left plots new strategies to bully and blackmail businesses into broadcasting their loathsome ideology. Contrary to their expectations, the consumer has the power to reject it.