Trader Joe's stands up to the left
In July, 17-year-old high school senior Briones Bedell posted an online petition calling popular grocery chain Trader Joe's racist for the whimsical labeling of its "international" food brands in witty ethnic terms such as Trader Jose's Mexican foods, Trader Ming's Chinese foods, Trader Giotto's Italian foods.
Like many major corporations, including the NBA and NFL, Trader Joe's immediately apologized for the sin of "romanticizing Western imperialism and fetishizing non-Western peoples" and announced that it was phasing out its ethnic brands.
Many business titans quake and quiver these days at the first whiff of opprobrium from the left.
A little over a year ago, the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers removed singer Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" from their music library and her statue near the team's South Philadelphia home after several songs Smith recorded in the 1930s with alleged racist lyrics surfaced to prick the sensibilities of a hyper-vigilant, hypersensitive few.
Kate is rumored to now be residing in a nondescript warehouse somewhere in or around Philadelphia.
The truth is that the allegations of racist lyrics were a convenient smokescreen to silence Smith. Black concert singer and actor Paul Robeson had recorded the same songs in the same era without incident.
The real reason Smith was canceled was to silence her and her singular rendition of "God Bless America," which USA Today described as a "classic ode to American greatness by a grateful immigrant, Irving Berlin."
Her iconic version of "God Bless America" was played at countless sports and patriotic events across America, including the seventh-inning stretch at New York Yankees games.
What chronically aggrieves the cancel culture is, in the words of Bedell, America's "Western imperialism" as imbedded in its customs, values, and institutions. Unable to abide anything that smacks of patriotism or American exceptionalism, progressives are obsessed with tearing it out root and branch.
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal about the Trader Joe's affair, an ethnic American wrote that when attacked companies, should "perhaps see what their real customers think before making decisions, rather than running from any controversy."
Higher-ups at Trader Joe's must be Journal readers. The company reversed its initial position, proclaiming that Trader Joe's does "not make decisions based on petitions."
Similarly, activists called for a boycott of Goya Foods after its president and CEO, Robert Unanue, said the U.S. is "truly blessed" to have Donald Trump as commander-in-chief.
Listening to Goya's real customers, not the "very loud voice of negativity, of a minority that can bring the sheep in to follow," Unanue refused to bow.
Goya's "real customers" (along with Goya neophytes like me) rewarded his grit by emptying supermarket shelves of Goya products.
The cancel culture is much more than young clueless idealists regurgitating the anti-American propaganda they have been spoon-fed by radically progressive educators their entire young lives.
Social media provide the platform to propagate their social justice drivel while enjoying their momentary place in the sun as, to paraphrase Barack Obama's modest 2008 presidential campaign rallying cry, "one of the ones we've been waiting for."
It's tempting to dismiss the Briones Bedells of the world as clueless innocents so lacking in self-awareness that they're blind to the racism inherent in their presumption that Mexicans, Chinese, and Italians are too weak or uneducated to fend for themselves.
They're fools, but dangerous fools. Each time privileged, overeducated jackbooted know-nothings silence a voice, ruin a life, extinguish a dream, shutter a business, or shatter a monument, the foundational customs, values, and institutions that made America exceptional are compromised.
Men and women of goodwill cannot, must not, cower.
Image: Trader Joe's.