I just received a message from the CEO of PetSmart, which inspires this project: I ask any and all Ethics Alarms readers to send in, as comments to this post, other virtue-signaling screeds from businesses and organizations on the topic of race. Once we have a sizable collection, Ethics Alarms will hand out some awards—Most Sincere, Most Offensive; Most Ridiculous; Most Hypocritical; Most Substantive, even Most Useful, if there is such a message. Perhaps I will put these up for a vote.
Here’s the PetSmart letter; I’ll have some comments at the end.
Dear PetSmart Family,
This is a pivotal moment in our country. It is a time to come together in support of basic human and civil rights and to love one another unconditionally.
The belief in unconditional love, that very important lesson we learn every day from our pets, is the heart of PetSmart. We promote belonging and inclusiveness in an environment where individuals with diverse backgrounds and talents can excel.
But we can ‐ and must ‐ do better.
It isn’t enough to say that we value diversity or to speak about inclusion in general terms. Now is the time to listen attentively and to be clear in our words and our actions. Now is the time to state plainly and unequivocally that Black Lives Matter and to do our part to ensure that this is our truth.
Right now, we are working on actions including:
- $1 Million scholarship fund to support all associates of color to advance their educational aspirations.
- Grants from PetSmart Charities support pets and pet parents in under-represented communities.
- Enhanced development and recruiting to improve black representation at PetSmart.
At PetSmart, we believe pets make us better people, but we know that conscious actions lead to real progress. That is why we must all commit to standing with our Black communities, to taking meaningful action, to being held accountable, and to saying what we must until it is no longer necessary: Black Lives Matter.
- Get the pet tie-in? “Unconditional love.” If there is one concept that the George Floyd protests and riots did not communicate, it is unconditional love. “Do as we say and what we want or else” is not an expression of unconditional love.
- Who is PetSmart to assume that merely by buying some dog food, chewies and dog toys I invited its executives (or PR department) to lecture me about race in America? That’s both presumptuous and obnoxious.
- How do you “state plainly and unequivocally that Black Lives Matter” without stating what the slogan means? To me, it means that someone is accusing me and lots of other non-black Americans of believing that black lives don’t matter, because of my skin color and heritage. Well, that’s racism in my dictionary, toward whites.
- “Taking meaningful action, to being held accountable, and to saying what we must until it is no longer necessary.” The rhetoric around the current “movement’ is redolent of the old Hunger Project scam, which extolled meaningful action to end hunger, but never specified any measures at all, though they did take contributions. Not to be a broken record, but advocating taking meaningful action is not meaningful. Being held accountable means nothing without tangible bench marks that one can be held accountable for. And nobody tells me what I “must” say, especially when saying things is distinct from doing anything, and when there’s no substance behind talk, talk is all you are going to get. What is the indicia that will prove that such talk is “no longer necessary”? I doubt that J.K. has a clue. If he did, wouldn’t he tell us?
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that “$1 Million scholarship fund to support all associates of color to advance their educational aspirations” racially discriminatory? No white associates need help advancing their educational aspirations? How does discriminating against employees—withholding benefits based on color is the essence of workplace discrimination—advance the mission of “inclusion”?
- If PetSmart is being “clear in its words and our actions,” isn’t only giving financial assistance to non-white employees clearly a statement that black lives matter more to the company than white lives? What else could it mean?
- I have no idea what “Grants from PetSmart Charities to support pets and pet parents in under-represented communities” means, put I’m pretty sure it will do nothing to keep a sick cop from kneeling on anyone’s neck.
- I wonder if Black Lives Matter is aware of the fact that its name and hashtag are in danger of becoming a meaningless mantra or talisman, waved in the air and mouthed to show compliance with mandatory politically correct sympathies, but ultimately signifying nothing. It may be fated to end up as a fitting addition to Homer Simpson’s immortal line, “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s like Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong or “Give Peace a Chance.”