Corporations need to stay out of politics–or how my father got fired for wearing a JFK button at work

Image courtesy of the JFK Presidential Library

By John Ruberry

In 1960, shortly before I was born, my father briefly worked for the Quaker Oats Company. Sixty years ago many large companies and corporations had ethnic identities. For instance the first episode of Mad Men, coincidentally set in 1960, contains a plotline centered around the decision of a Jewish business owner to change advertising agencies and hire one that wasn’t “Jewish.” 

Big firms also had politial identities.

Quaker Oats was a Republican company. R. Douglas Stuart was the longtime CEO of the company when my dad worked there. In Stuart’s Wikipedia entry, and that of his son, it’s stated that they were “active in the Republican Party.” The younger Stuart also served as CEO of Quaker Oats.

My dad was hired by the Chicago-based company as a junior executive, an in-house farm club concept from that era.

It was a great time to be an Irish Catholic Democrat in 1960 and my dad was able to proudly check all three boxes. John F. Kennedy, who potrayed himself as a devout Catholic, was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. Unlike the doomed Al Smith, the first Catholic nominee for president of a major party, Kennedy’s chances for moving into the White House looked promising. But JFK’s Republican opponent, Richard M. Nixon, was the slight favorite early in the campaign. Kennedy, people like my father reasoned, needed every bit of assistance to nudge him over the goal line. So my dad placed a Kennedy poster in the front window of our Chicago bungalow and he wore a Kennedy campaign button everywhere he went.

Including at Quaker Oats. 

But my dad was a probationary hire–there was a three month period before a final decision was made on whether he would stay on. He didn’t make it–he was told at the end of those three months that he “wasn’t a fit for the Quaker Oats culture.”

Years later, after my father’s passing, I met a woman who worked closely with my father at Quaker Oats there and she confimed this story as it had exactly been told to me. She added that my dad was “a real blast” and a “breath of fresh air at that stuffy place.”

Later in the 1960s attitudes changed. Major corporations became less ethnic. One large company after another stopped being WASP, Jewish, or Catholic. The hiring doors for all positions were opened to minorities. And of course those were all good things. Politics was de-emphasized in the business world too.

But politics didn’t vanish from corporate America. Another legacy from the 1960s is that big corporations began envisioning themselves as being responsible for more than providing products and services and making money, explaining in annual reports and countless press releases that they had a “responsibility to the community” and the like. And over time, colleges and universities, even their business schools, drifted even further to the left. So did the political leanings of their graduates. A decade or so ago poltics made a roaring comeback in the boardroom and elsewhere in corporate America.

When there is a political controversy–such as the hasty anger about the new Georgia voting laws–which most people who hate them only do so because they saw Twitter comments or headlines on their smart phones that claim that Georgia has returned to the Jim Crow era–CEOs naturally, such as Delta Airlines’ CEO Ed Bastian, fall in line and echo the opinion of the left. Oh, the fear of a left-wing boycott is part of their rationale too. Coca-Cola, aka Woka-Cola, which went full-woke earlier this year, has also declared its opposition to the Georgia election law. And not just them.

Corporate politicking needs to end because it is an accessory to the dangerous dividing of America. The last time I bought airline tickets I needed to get someplace–and get flown home. That’s it. I don’t need the airline’s politics, I have my own already, thank you. The same goes if I need a beverage or anything else. Ed Bastian and Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey need to shut up and stick to keeping flights somewhat on time and ensuring beverages are tasty and safe. They need to avoid subjects they know little about.

The majority of Americans, when they learn more about the Georgia bill, will likely see these reforms as reasonable. For instance already most states have voter ID laws, including Biden’s home state of Delaware. And signature verification as the sole tool to determine if a ballot mailed in was completed by that voter, isn’t a strong enough security measure, at least I think so.

Elections need to be free and fair. 

Did Quincey and Bastian cave to the left on Georgia only because they read an MSNBC or Daily Beast headline? 

I am also compelled to address the bad decision by Major League Baseball to move the 2021 All-Star Game, and the MLB Draft, out of Atlanta. Two days prior, while being interviewed by woke ESPN, President Joe Biden said he supported taking away that game from the Braves. MLB needs to stay out of politics too. Had MLB done a bit of research on the subject it would have learned that the woke Washington Post rated a key Biden claim about the law with Four Pinocchios

Instead of a leftist boycott now Delta, Coke, and MLB face boycotts from the right–and the loudest call comes from former President Donald Trump. Remember him? He received the votes of 75 million Americans five months ago.

My message to corporate America: Keep out of politics and stick to your products and services. It’s good for your business and best for America. And it’s great for your employees.

Oh, my dad learned his lesson. He never wore a political campaign button again. He enjoyed a happy and properous career at other places. After Chappaquidick my father was done with the Kennedy family. After Jimmy Carter’s election he was done with the Democrats.

Quaker Oats was acquired by Pepsico, Coca-Cola’s rival, in 2001.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Easter Sunday, Today in Your Hearing This Prophecy is Fulfilled

 “You will be saved if you want to be.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Thy damnation comes from thee,” 

St. Leonard of Port Maurice quoting the Prophet Osee (Hosea)

Today is Easter Sunday the Holiest day of the year where we celebrate the resurrection of Christ and our own that will follow. It started at the Easter Vigil mass where the great “Alleluia” returns to the mass and converts to the faith are baptized (if they have not been before) and confirmed (in the faith) and receive their 1st Holy Communion (if they were Catholics in their youth but never confirmed then they return to the Sacrament). This makes a lot of sense as what better day to welcome someone to salvation then the day it was completed.

Good Friday is the day our debt was paid and Easter Sunday is the day that we were told that we were free to go.

But while we are free to go, it’s worth noting that while we are promised life we are not promised an easy time of it. As Jesus told the disciples just before he went into the garden:

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.

Whoever hates me also hates my Father. If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.

They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour 1 is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.

John 15:18-16:3

Those words are particularly relevant today. While the United States has been a Christian Country for most of its existence historically it was not all that friendly to Catholics, (quite understandable our nation came from English colonies who had very little use for Catholics and where constantly at war with Catholic France who used the Indians as pawns in that fight for a century.) It wasn’t until the wave of Irish that the Catholic faith gained a modicum of power in the country and while the church is much more powerful then it was in 1776 or 1850 or even 1920 we are in an era where believing Christians of all stripes are in disfavor by our media, by our leadership and by our culture.

That’s why I respect those who joined the Church at the Easter vigil. Such people are doing so in the face of our Catholic “President” and the leadership that has a greater hatred for actual practicing and believing Catholics who follow the faith as it is then most prior administrations.

This is not a surprise nothing is a bigger indictment for one who is false then one who is true and those who are coming to the faith at a time when it is a target are the truest of the true. If they came a century or even a half century earlier that act would have been still been celebrated by civil authorities and by to some degree by the culture. In fact I’m sure there were many during that time when one without faith was less likely to advance who repeated those vows in the spirit of Michael Corleone’s saying the words because it suited him even as he tossed them away:

In fact I am sure that there is more than a few “conservatives” in deep red states that are Michael Corleone who give lip service to the faith for their own purposes. I find such people even more despicable than those who in a blue state like mine when given the choice between faith and power and prestige drop the faith for put on the false fig leaf of “personally opposed” to things. They like Pilate are merciful until it becomes inconvenient or dangerous.

But those who came in yesterday are doing so in the face of all of this knowing all these things and also knowing that with the exception of St. John the Evangelist every single one of those disciples who the risen Lord would greet in that locked room would die a violent death at the hands of authorities all over the world.

Yet they still come because they understand that two thousand years later those dead are still alive today, members of the Communion of Saints that they have just entered and that they are venerated and remembered on earth Millenia later and will be till the world takes its final turn, while those who sought to kill them (and did not repent of this crime) are largely forgotten, and if remembered on earth remembered as villain’s while more importantly find themselves today in a position that I would not want my worst enemy to be in.

Those busy running from or attacking Christianity in general and the Catholic faith in particular for fun, power and profit should keep that in mind.

Those who came in yesterday show the 1st and most vital of the virtues courage, the courage that Don Surber wrote of a few days ago when he noted this story:

The Guardian ran a story on October 2, 2015, which began, “Details have begun to emerge of the terrifying experience of students and staff at the Umpqua community college, where 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer shot and killed nine people and injured at least seven others.
“Harper Mercer died in a shootout with police who responded to calls about an active shooter at 10.38 am on Thursday.”
The headline read, “Oregon college shooting: ‘He asked are you Christian? Then he shot and killed them.’ “
I ask myself sometimes if I were the second person he asked would I be brave enough to say yes? 
Sometimes I answer correctly, and other times I am ashamed of myself.

I am very lucky. I had very devout parents who brought me up in the faith and when to a Catholic grade school for seven years when such schools were actually Catholic, even with that advantage it was a hard slog to get to where I am. They managed to get here without the advantages I had. I’m in awe of them.

Pray for them, they’ll need it.