Jon Caldara

Jon Caldara

During the French Revolution’s “Reign of Terror,” those accused of not being true enough to the cause were publicly beheaded. To unify the Communist Party in Russia, the Stalinist purges did much the same. Mao used the equivalent tactic with his Cultural Revolution.

It’s a tried and true technique.

People who didn’t want to get swept up in these eradications learned quickly to not just embrace the political philosophies championed by the new power structure, but to chant the new mantras louder than the person next to them. This way they can show they’ve always been on the winner’s team, and hopefully not be beheaded.

Take three minutes and watch “Crying for Kim Jong-il” on YouTube to witness this life-saving phenomenon. North Koreans take turns in front of the Great Leader’s monument to whale and bellow in grief over his recent death, each louder and more hysterical than the last. It’s a competition to see who acts the most hurt over his demise.

Looked very much like the city of Boulder when Jerry Garcia died.

Of course, this competition of staged sorrow was to prove how faithful one is to those in charge. They aren’t crying over Kim’s death. They’re crying to save their own lives. And who can blame them?

Is corporate America’s public self-flogging over Black Lives Matter all that different?

My point is not to say that Black lives don’t matter. They most certainly do. Nor is it to say we shouldn’t be having a “conversation,” the worn-out codeword for demanding progressive policy change. We’re having it.

My point is that, like those showboating over Kim Jong-il’s death, companies are rushing to prove their #BLM credibility for fear of being targeted by the identity-politics police who can take them out.

Radio stations are playing Black Lives Matters promos between songs. When you turn on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, they hit you immediately with their library of white-guilt, Hollywood morality flicks, front and center.

HBO Max pulled "Gone with the Wind" from their online catalog then replaced it after complaints, but only after putting a 4-minute-long PC warning in front of it. TV commercials from soap to cars must include #BLM messaging.

These companies know they must be more than just reverent over this social moment. They must prove they have ALWAYS been loudly supportive of the BLM movement, in the right way, long before their competitors.

What would happen if you are two minutes too late in paying homage to #BLM or begging forgiveness for not being sensitive enough, soon enough?

Like Patrick Harrington, you could be forced out of business.

Harrington is the owner of Kindness Yoga, what used to be one of the most popular yoga studio chains in Denver. Kindness, as its name denotes, did all the things a socially-conscious, groovy, man-bun-ish place is supposed to do. Gender-neutral bathrooms. LGTBQ yoga sessions. Even no-whites-allowed sessions, where “white friends and allies” were asked to “respectfully refrain from attending.”

Harrington’s sin? He didn’t flog himself for his white privilege soon or hard enough in the right way. Oh, he made social media posts supporting BLM, but the tone seemed staged to a couple of his yoga instructors, a black woman and a transgendered man.

After their social media campaign targeted Kindness Yoga, claiming Harrington’s support of minority causes was “performative activism” and “tokenism,” he was forced to close his nine locations, permanently.

According to a local news report, the offended black yoga teacher asked her 4,520 Instragram followers to continue calling out not just Kindness but other yoga studios. “This is a rallying cry for every white-owned yoga studio to step the (expletive) up and be better.” She provided Harrington’s email and phone number and requested that people cancel their memberships and tell Harrington to “provide reparations” to his minority teachers.

If only Harrington had the public relation teams that big corporations can afford to handle his whiteness in an acceptably groveling manner, maybe his 160 employees would still have jobs today.

There’s a handmade sign in my neighbor’s yard. “White silence = violence.”

How true. But not in the way my neighbor thinks.

The violence is economic violence against white-owned companies who don’t loudly prostrate themselves in the preferred manner during this little version of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute in Denver and hosts "The Devil's Advocate with Jon Caldara" on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. His column appears Sundays in Colorado Politics.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute in Denver and hosts "The Devil's Advocate with Jon Caldara" on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. His column appears Sundays in Colorado Politics.

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