Tuesday, May 01, 2018

A Latte With Cream, Sugar, And No Backbone

We now know that Starbucks tolerates bias.

On the afternoon of Thursday, April 12, 2018 two young, adult black men asked for the key to the men's bathroom at a Starbucks shop in Center City Philadelphia. Denied because they had not intended to buy anything, the two individuals sat down and waited for the arrival of a third (white) man with whom they had an appointment to discuss a business deal.

A few minutes later, police were called and after unsuccessfully persuading the men to leave the store, arrested the two, amidst concern from patrons that the men were singled out for their race. Soon afterward, the men were released without being charged, upon orders of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner because, well, Krasner.

Protests erupted and and after an apology by CEO Larry Johnso, Starbucks announced on April 17 "racial-bias education" training to be held at each of the chain's stores on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29.

With all the reports surrounding this episode, we still haven't learned whether the (now-fired) employee was panicked, bigoted, or otherwise motivated to have taken this very much ill-advised action. We do not know, further, whether the action resulted from a misinterpretation of company policy, accurate interpretation of company policy, or racial animus on the part of one individual.

But we do know that Starbucks tolerates bias. It now has made it very clear.

Politico reporter Andrew Hanna informs us that following the incident, on April 17 "the company announced it would close more than 8,000 U.S. locations to conduct mandatory training to prevent racial bias, using a curriculum to be developed by leaders from a number of anti-bias groups, including Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL."

Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley stated "we have a lot of amazing advisers, and we also realized this can't be a one-time thing. The training on (may) 29 can't be the biginning and end."  Apparently, however, no Jews need apply, for the chain has altered its program and

Starbucks' exclusion of the ADL from its May 29 training session became apparent on April 24 when a press release about the event failed to mention Greenblatt in connection to it. Instead, it said the company would "consult with" the ADL in connection with longer-term efforts.

Neither the Anti-Defamation League nor its supporters warmly welcomed the exclusion, whose motivation was clear when almost immediately after announcement of the training

“The ADL is CONSTANTLY attacking black and brown people,” Women’s March organizer Tamika Mallory posted on Twitter. “This is a sign that they are tone deaf and not committed to addressing the concerns of black folk.” Mallory came under fire earlier this year after attending a Feb. 25 speech by Louis Farrakhan in which the Nation of Islam leader said “the Jews have control over" the FBI.

Cat Brooks, the co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, told ABC News that she agreed with Mallory, saying, "You can't be a piece of an anti-bias training when you openly support a racist, oppressive and brutal colonization of Palestine."

The Washington chapter of Black Lives Matter, meanwhile, tweeted that the ADL was "ultra pro-cop," and cited a 2016 letter in which Greenblatt said "ADL has not endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement" because "a small minority of [its] leaders ... supported anti-Israel — and at times anti-Semitic — positions." Greenblatt's letter didn't identify the leaders in question.

Of course, we don't know whether Starbucks management harbors anti-Semitic sentimen. Nor is it clear whether it has practiced a policy of denying bathroom access to non-customers, and if so, whether it is enforced throughout the chain.  More likely, it simply has been intimidated by pressure from individuals whose motivation is clearer than that of the (now former) Starbucks manager.

The critics which persuaded Starbucks virtually to shut down ADL involvement are less driven by ideology than by their own malignant view of race and ethnicity.  But Starbucks is viewed by some people as part of the vast left-wing cultural conspiracy plaguing America, and by more people as an operation emphasizing liberal principals.

The right has a problem with its bias, which it generally is loathe to denounce. And so does the left, which will suffer until and unless it finds the will to criticize the bigots perceived as being in its own orbit. For a time, Dan Rather signed off the CBS Evening News with "courage." It's good advice.

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