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Do We Always Need to Disavow Controversial Groups?
Several major companies have faced boycotts from consumers over their business relationships to the NRA. At what point does the need to disavow become immaterial?
Often times in the midst of controversy, people take special caution to distance themselves from controversial people or entities. Sometime this is done readily, other times it is done under social pressure.
Earlier this week, on March 1st, a day long boycott against several companies was organized across the United States due to business relationships they have with the NRA (National Rifle Association). In the wake of Stoneman High School Shooting, the NRA has experienced vitriol from the public, with gun protests across the country. However, it raises some questions as to why other companies should be required to distance themselves from the NRA. Apple and Amazon are subject to boycott not for any direct funding or lobbying they do for the NRA, but because they offer access to NRA video-streaming. Other companies have ended their relationships with the NRA, including Delta, United Airlines, and Hertz, under fear of public disapproval. FedEx is also facing criticism and threats of boycotting for its connections to the NRA.
It appears that controversial groups are supposed to be shamed by any group that has ever been at associated with them, no matter how tenuous the relationship might be. The NRA is by no means the only example of this. The Fred Perry clothing brand has been accused of being a racist organization because some of their clothing has been worn by racist skinheads. Another case can be seen with Nick Solares, a food critic fired from Eater.com in 2016 because of band he was in during the 1980s. The band, Youth Defense League, can be described as a patriotic, anti-communist band that was thought to have racist ideals because of a venue they had played.
During the 2016 election, Donald Trump was encouraged to disavow white supremacists who supported his campaign. It is understandable why individuals or companies might choose to distance themselves when controversy surfaces, and they are of course free to make their own decisions on such topics. But the message seems to be lost when boycotting of airlines and car rental companies is encouraged because of an anti-gun issue. The question we need to ask ourselves is at what point do we no longer need to disavow and virtue signal our disapproval, but instead direct constructive attention where it is truly needed.
The GOP front-runner called for an Apple boycott.