In the days since the president incited a mob to storm the Capitol building with Confederate flags and bison outfits, an unholy host of businesses and executives have condemned the riot, with some calling for the invocation of the 25th Amendment.
On Thursday morning, the Business Roundtable—an association of major American chief executives—issued a short and relatively vague statement condemning the riot without condemning its instigator. They condemned the mob storming the Capitol building as “unconscionable and tragic” while calling on the nation to unite and focus on the tasking of “ending the pandemic and ensuring a safe and rapid economic recovery.”
One of the earlier statements condemning the violence was from Coca-Cola, which from 1990 to 2002 allegedly hired United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) hitmen to kill at least ten trade union leaders attempting to organize Coca Cola plants. Before disbanding in 2006, the AUC was a well-known right-wing paramilitary group responsible for countless massacres, kidnappings, and attacks. When mob violence came to the U.S. Capitol, the company’s statement said it was “stunned by the unlawful and violent events” that took place at the Capitol building on January 6.
“We’d rather be lonely than with that mob,” read another tweet, this time from AXE, as in AXE Body Spray, referencing an image of a lone can that was seemingly left by the rioters. Their tweet went on to softly condemn the riot and reiterate that they “believe in the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power.”
Yet another statement came from the poorly-named property and casualty insurer, Chubb, whose chief executive and chairman joined the chorus of soft-spoken condemnations and said that the certification which happened later that night was “a powerful affirmation of our democracy.” He called on his audience to “hope for a new era of respect and decency” and urged them to “meet the many common challenges facing our nation.”
Chief executives of America’s largest telecom companies also issued statements condemning Wednesday’s riot. T-Mobile CEO Mike Severt told Yahoo Finance Live that “what we witnessed yesterday was a shock.” Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg condemned the riots and reiterated that “the well-being of our V Team and customers remains our top priority.” AT&T CEO John Stankey in a statement said the riots were an “appalling insurrection bent on blocking the peaceful transfer of power.”
Boeing, a federal military contractor that makes billions arming conflicts overseas, issued a statement that said the company “proudly serves a vital role with our U.S. government customer in defending democracy here, and around the world.” The military contractor did not condemn Wednesday’s violence but invoked “the spirit of bipartisanship” and appealed to elected officials to “unify our nation.”
A spattering of other chief executives from major businesses such as Apple, Salesforce, and IBM also joined together and shared similar words to one another condemning the riot, urging for a peaceful transition of power, and insisting that this was a unique event in American history.
Beyond corporations, as a report from grassroots news outlet The Daily Poster shows, many of Trump’s and the GOP’s key funders have suddenly begun to loudly condemn the riots as part of an effort to whitewash their role.
Steve Schwarzman, CEO of private equity firm Blackstone, called the riot “appalling and affront to democratic values we hold dear as Americans” even though he has had an active role in the administration shaping finance, bankrolled Trumps’ reelection machine, and poured $40 million into a Trump super PAC and GOP groups during the 2020 race. Schwarzman also poured another $15 million during the Georgia runoff races into a super PAC supporting the GOP senators that loudly insisted they would oppose certifying the election—a position Trump used to incite the riot.
Jay Simmons, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the oldest and most powerful business lobbyist groups in Washington, D.C., issued a statement calling on Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment to protect democracy.
“This is not the vision of America that manufacturers believe in and work so hard to defend.”
Timmons went further than other groups, businesses, and executives in blaming the President for sparking the riot as well as having “been cheered on by members of his own party.” When the NAM enjoyed kickbacks in the form of unfettered access to the White House and Trump’s tax cuts—which it helped pass—there was hardly any complaint unless a Trump policy directly threatened the manufacturing industry.
This country has a long history of right-wing violence, and a great deal of it has been racial—specifically targeting Black, brown, and indigenous people. Perhaps what was unique during this week’s storming of the Capitol was that, for the first time, the people issuing statements could actually empathize with the targets of the violence. Or maybe, its enablers simply want to distance themselves as far as possible from the carnage many of them directly funded. Or both.