On Tuesday, a Goodyear Tire employee leaked a diversity training graphic claiming that “Black Lives Matter” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride” (LGBT Pride) slogans are acceptable while “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “MAGA Attire,” and “Political Affiliated Slogans or Material” are unacceptable. Conservatives condemned the double standard, and President Donald Trump called for a boycott. Goodyear responded by disavowing the graphic but doubling down on the hypocrisy, claiming that asking employees to refrain from making political statements is entirely different from allowing “forms of advocacy” involving “racial justice and equity issues.”
This incident reveals the Left’s mentality: political advocacy for its radical positions is “equity” and “inclusion,” while political advocacy against them is racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any other kind of phobia they can imagine. Only the Right is “divisive” and “political.” The Left’s favored causes aren’t political or divisive — they’re just correct.
I have long reported on a similar double standard employed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — a primary engine of cancel culture. The Goodyear incident merely sets this hypocrisy in stark relief.
What happened with Goodyear
An anonymous Goodyear employee shared a photo of the pro-Black Lives Matter and anti-Blue Lives Matter graphic, claiming an area manager presented it as part of a diversity training presentation at a Topeka plant. The employee claimed the slide came from the company’s corporate office in Akron, Ohio, Fox 8 reported.
“If someone wants to wear a BLM shirt in here, then cool. I’m not going to get offended about it. But at the same time, if someone’s not going to be able to wear something that is politically based, even in the farthest stretch of the imagination, that’s discriminatory,” the employee told the Fox affiliate on condition of anonymity. “If we’re talking about equality, then it needs to be equality. If not, it’s discrimination.”
Goodyear responds to zero-tolerance policy slide labeled by employee as discriminatory https://t.co/vggKVbNeWp
— FOX 8 New Orleans (@FOX8NOLA) August 18, 2020
“Goodyear is committed to fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace where all of our associates can do their best in a spirit of teamwork. As part of this commitment, we do allow our associates to express their support on racial injustice and other equity issues but ask that they refrain from workplace expressions, verbal or otherwise, in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party as well as other similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of equity issues,” Melissa Monaco, a Goodyear spokeswoman, told the Fox affiliate.
On Wednesday, President Trump encouraged a boycott.
“Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!),” he tweeted.
Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany explained that Goodyear appears to have targeted “a certain ideology,” namely conservative support for Trump and the police.
"What was not allowed was Blue Lives Matter.
What was not allowed was MAGA hats.
What was clearly targeted was a certain ideology." pic.twitter.com/IwLiF7J3Rn
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 19, 2020
Goodyear released a longer statement on Wednesday, explaining that “the visual in question was not created or distributed by Goodyear corporate, nor was it part of a diversity training class.”
However, the company acknowledged that its policy does use a double standard when it comes to political advocacy, in the name of fighting “harassment” and “discrimination.”
“To be clear on our longstanding corporate policy, Goodyear has zero tolerance for any forms of harassment or discrimination. To enable a work environment free of those, we ask that associates refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues,” the company explained.
Goodyear claimed to “appreciate the diverse viewpoints of all of our more than 60,000 associates.” In order to foster “an inclusive, respectful workplace,” the company asks “associates not to engage in political campaigning of any kind in the workplace – for any candidate, party or political organization.”
Lastly, the company explained that it “has always wholeheartedly supported both equality and law enforcement and will continue to do so. These are not mutually exclusive. We have heard from some of you that believe Goodyear is anti-police after reacting to the visual. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have the upmost [sic] appreciation for the vital work police do on behalf of our shared communities. This can’t be said strongly enough.”
Goodyear deserves credit for stating its support for police and for explaining its ban on political messaging. However, it seems like the company does allow some kinds of political messaging in the name of “racial justice and equity issues” while it excludes other kinds.
Goodyear leaders probably don’t see any double standard
While the specific slide about which the Goodyear employee complained may not trace back to the company, it does seem the double standard on Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter is the company’s official policy.
Americans agree with the statement that “black lives matter,” but the leaders of the official Black Lives Matter movement are avowed Marxists and the organization’s platform has opposed biological sex and the nuclear family. Black Lives Matter is a political statement, even if Goodyear’s leaders agree with it more than they agree with the Blue Lives Matter response.
Yet left-leaning corporate leaders have adopted partisan stances in the name of “diversity” and “inclusion,” following the lead of leftist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC pushes far-left ideas in schools through its “Teaching Tolerance” program. While “Teaching Tolerance” does advocate against racism and harassment, it has also pushed transgender activism lessons for Kindergarten through fifth grade and “microaggression” lessons for children in first grade. Similarly, The New York Times‘ “1619 Project” twists American history in the name of “racial justice.” Its first installment condemned capitalism, sugar, and America’s less-than-completely-socialistic health care system.
Many on the Left truly do believe that Black Lives Matter, “Teaching Tolerance,” and the 1619 Project are not partisan efforts but apolitical projects designed to further “equity” and “inclusion.” This explains why basketball courts added “Black Lives Matter” and why liberal politicians felt no compunction about spray-painting “Black Lives Matter” on prominent roads in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Yet conservative causes like the pro-life movement, the gun rights movement, and the movement for religious freedom also pursue various forms of “equity” and “inclusion,” and corporate America considers them divisive and political. Why should unborn black babies be excluded from “Black Lives Matter?” Why are Americans’ First Amendment and Second Amendment rights not considered an aspect of “equity?”
Goodyear needs to make its position clear. Does its ban on political advocacy at the office extend to liberal and conservative causes alike? Does it ban “Blue Lives Matter” paraphernalia, as the graphic suggested, while allowing “Black Lives Matter” slogans?
The answers to these questions remain unclear, but it seems likely the company’s leadership does apply an unfair double standard against conservative speech. Since Trump is the president, he arguably should not call for boycotts of American companies, but corporate America needs to learn that this kind of double standard is unacceptable.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.