If you want to know what a small world it really is at Disney, ask CEO Bob Chapek. The head of the happiest place on earth hasn't had a magical 72 hours after his decision to stay out of Florida's debate over sex education blew up in the company's face. Chapek, who tried to lay low on a bill to keep transgender talk out of K-3 classrooms, found out pretty quickly that when it comes to LGBT issues at Disney, things get, well -- animated.
As head of Florida's most popular tourist destination, Chapek had been under intense pressure to speak out against H.B. 1557, the popular Parental Rights in Education bill. For weeks, the legislation has been the center of the media's attention, since it represents one of the most brazen pushbacks to the Left's indoctrination in schools. Although the word "gay" is never mentioned in the bill's text, LGBT extremists -- in a desperate effort to derail the legislation -- dubbed it the "Don't Say Gay Bill." In the end, though, even the Left's misinformation campaign failed to make a dent, and the legislation -- propelled by tens of thousands of parents across the state -- sailed through both chambers.
In the meantime, at a Disney shareholders meeting, woke investors grilled Chapek about his silence -- eventually cajoling a pledge from the company to send $5 million to LGBT groups in protest of the bill. "I understand that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill," Chapek said. "We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle." To fringe groups like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), that wasn't enough. Incredibly, despite all of Disney's past concessions to LGBT causes, HRC said it would refuse the donation (hush money) until Disney "builds" on "its public commitment" to stop bills like Florida's from becoming "dangerous laws."
Chapek, after getting clobbered from both sides, promised to call Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and ask him to withdraw his support. While DeSantis was "open" to his concerns, the governor's office made it clear afterward there was "zero" chance he was changing his mind. In fact, the slow-boiling feud between conservatives and Big Business spilled over in Boca Raton, where the governor fumed that if anyone should support these elementary school protections, it's Disney.
"When you have companies that have made a fortune off being family-friendly and catering to families and young kids, they should understand that parents of young kids do not want this injected into their kid's kindergarten classroom," he said. Then, in a swipe at Disney's duplicity, he made it clear what this was really about: greed.
"You have companies, like at Disney, that are going to... criticize parents' rights, they're going to criticize the fact that we don't want transgenderism in kindergarten, in first-grade classrooms." Fine, DeSantis said. "If that's the hill they're going to die on, then how do they possibly explain lining their pockets with their relationship from the Communist Party of China? Because that's what they do, and they make a fortune, and they don't say a word about the really brutal practices that you see over there at the hands of the CCP." At the end of the day, the governor insisted, "Our policies [have] got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musing of woke corporations."
To a lot of people, this entire debate is even more evidence of the massive sea change underway between corporate America and conservatives. Instead of being cowed by Big Business's demands, more Republicans seem emboldened by them. The GOP understands after these last few years that the country's views of these companies have shifted, especially as more of their hypocrisy on issues like China come to light. Just this week, a special watchdog group broke the news that Amazon is still using Uyghur slave labor in Xinjiang -- despite all of its moral superiority about "racial equality" here at home. Then, like most of America's two-faced CEOs, Jeff Bezos jumped on the corporate bandwagon in Ukraine, pulling the plug on Prime and retail shipments to Russia because of Amazon's "humanitarian" values. Funny, those values don't seem to apply to China, where the economy is eight times bigger -- and so is the genocide.
Americans are onto the double standard here. If the woke and cancel cultures set out to prove who's intolerant, they've succeeded. Most people think it's the Left. And as more elected officials tell these CEO-turned-social justice crusaders to take a hike, the deeper the hole these companies are digging for themselves. As Axios pointed out Thursday in the uproar over Texas's investigation into transgender treatments, "Corporations may have found it easier to threaten to pull their business when just one or two states were pushing a particular piece of... anti-trans legislation." But that's no longer the case. Dozens of states are going on the offensive on everything from girls' sports and sex ed to gender "therapy" for minors. And what's happened? "Employers have been less willing to speak out individually and forcefully about specific state laws than they were in past years."
Maybe the reality is finally starting to sink in that corporate America is on the wrong side of the political debate by being in the political debate at all. Sixty-six percent of the country (including half of Democrats!) want businesses to stop sticking their noses in the culture wars. And until companies take the hint, they're alienating the best economic ally they have -- the GOP. But at this point, after months of being publicly shamed and humiliated by these CEOs, most conservatives could care less whether Big Business sinks or swims. As far as they're concerned, if these companies want to cozy up to the Democrats' radical social policy, then guess what? They should have to live under their socialist tax policies too.