Opening a new front in the country’s culture wars, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis revoked Walt Disney’s self-governing authority in apparent retaliation for opposing the government’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law. State.
DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that will reverse special privileges granted to Disney decades ago to govern the lands surrounding its Disney World theme park. The new law, which is due to take effect in June 2023, will cost Disney tens of millions of dollars a year.
The public feud has upended the once cozy relationship between Florida and Disney. It is also only the latest salvo in the battle of the political right against the “awakening”.
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Increasingly, conservatives are using tough tactics to punish big business for speaking out on burning social issues. Once a rallying cry for systemic racism and injustice, the “wake-up call” has been co-opted by the political right to denounce “political correctness” and progressive talking points.
“Conservatives are learning to fight woke capital,” activist Christopher Rufo told USA TODAY.
Republicans have lashed out at Delta Air Lines and Major League Baseball for opposing Georgia’s restrictive election laws. Texas has threatened Citigroup over its policy of paying employees to travel out of state for abortions.
This tougher stance is a far cry from the pro-business policy of yesteryear.
In 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence and the GOP-controlled State House revised a “religious liberty” law after pressure from big business executives, including Apple and Salesforce, who warned that it would allow companies to discriminate against homosexuals.
The Disney-DeSantis dust marks a sharp escalation in the GOP’s push to get corporations to stop mixing politics and business, Rufo said.
“CEOs need to beware: Conservatives put a price on woke capital, and if they want to protect shareholder value, they need to stay out of the culture wars,” Rufo said.
Rufo is behind an effort to pressure corporations to abandon progressive attitudes. First, he was interested in how racism is taught, not only in schools but in private companies.
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Conservative attacks on what Rufo calls critical race theory have led to a wave of state house laws across the country. At DeSantis’ request, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature passed the nation’s first law limiting what private employers can teach workers about race.
Now Rufo is focused on mastering discussions of LGBTQ issues in public classrooms and private cubicles.
Disney became embroiled in a confrontation with DeSantis when CEO Bob Chapek promised Disney would work to repeal Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” Act by critics. It prohibits classroom discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation until third grade and limits them to older students.
In response, DeSantis, who is eyeing a presidential run in 2024, slammed “Woke Disney.” “If Disney wants to fight, they picked the wrong guy,” he wrote in a recent fundraising email.
“Governor. DeSantis is proving to be the nation’s most capable conservative leader, displaying remarkable courage and strategic wisdom when confronting Disney executives,” Rufo said.
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