retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday's story about Whole Foods saying store employees cannot wear Black Lives Matter masks at work, one MNB reader wrote:

Whole Foods is entitled to maintain there policy!  It’s not racist or prejudice against anyone. Furthermore, I’m sick and tired of these groups!  They are now reverse discrminating, and forcing their views and philosophy down everyone’s throats!! “Comply or pay the price” That’s not freedom!!! It’s terroism, intimidating, and violent elimination of people’s rights!  

It’s time EVERYONES rights is protected!!! 

These companies along with the authorities are complete cowards!! 

Sick of it all!

No argument that Whole Foods is entitled to maintain its policy.  That's not the question.  The issue is whether it should, and whether that will be viewed as disingenuous considering the company's previous statements and actions on these issues.  And I think it is entirely fair to say that Whole Food's position is not inherently racist or prejudiced - it is walking a tightrope and trying not to fall off it.  But that may not be possible in the current climate.  The net ain't what it used to be.  Which probably is a good thing.

I would, however, argue with the notion that everybody's rights need to be protected.  A business does not have the right to discriminate against people because of their color or ethnicity or gender or religion.  If you are a business owner, you may have the right to hold certain opinions, but you do not have the right to implement those opinions in terms of policies that discriminate.  You don't have the right to act on those opinions in other ways … hence, the notion of hate crimes.

I'd also gently suggest that if you were faced with a world in which you were suspect or discriminated against because of the color of your skin, you might be a little resentful, too.  If you then protested or marched or coordinated boycotts as a way of drawing attention to inequality and societal inequities, I suspect that you might resist being characterized as a terrorist.  You might, in fact, be "sick" of it all.

Businesses are being forced - like it or not - to make choices that have little to do with value and have everything to do with moral and ethical values.  

I think we all would do well to consider the words written by playwright Robert Bolt in "A Man For All Seasons," and put into the mouth of Sir Thomas More:

"If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we'd live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all... why then perhaps we must stand fast a little - even at the risk of being heroes."