Targeted boycott of LGBTQ+ products is ‘literally terrorism’: economist
Conservative backlash and calls to boycott Target over Pride-themed products, including reported threats against store workers, are “literally terrorism,” an economist said Thursday.
Target was prompted to pull its Pride-themed products after threats were allegedly made against store employees amid an anti-LGBTQ+ backlash. The retailer will remove items “at the center of the most prominent confrontational behavior” from customers, Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda said Tuesday.
The decision to remove the products from some stores in the South comes just days before the start of Pride month in June. It also comes after recent calls from Tories to boycott beer brand Bud Light over its partnership with influencer and transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. A Target spokesperson told Insider Thursday that the removal of Pride products was in response to “threats affecting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being.”
Justin Wolfers, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, said the The 11th hour on MSNBC that he finds Target’s response “pretty scary”.
“One of two things is true. They may be cowards and they may be using this as protection and a smokescreen so they can make a cowardly decision, or they may be genuinely concerned by the welfare of their employees and they have had credible threats,” Wolfers explained Thursday.
He continued, “If that’s the case, when Target gives in to that, then he’s saying as soon as you threaten the employees of a really big company, you control their policies. That’s economic terrorism, literally terrorism, creating fear among workers and forcing companies to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don’t want.”
Target CEO Brian Cornell recently sent a letter to employees, obtained by Insider, saying, “To our team in stores: Thank you for consistently representing our values. what you’ve seen over the past few days went way beyond discomfort, and it’s been heartbreaking to see what you’ve faced in our driveways.”
Meanwhile, several brands have been targeted by conservatives for standing up for the LGBTQ+ community. Experts have said such campaigns offer brands a chance to expand their customer base as they consider new markets, but critics have accused the companies of alienating their long-time traditional consumers.
The conservative-led boycotts come at a time when transgender rights have also been heavily targeted, including by proposing anti-trans legislation in Republican-led states.
Data from the Pew Research Center last year showed that a majority of the United States supports laws that would protect transgender people from discrimination. However, a recent Washington Post A poll has found that clear majorities of Americans support Republican-led restrictions that impact transgender children, including limits on gender-affirming care and other policies that LGBTQ+ advocates say help reduce suicide rates among transgender youth.
Newsweek emailed Wolfers for additional comments.