Douglas Andrews / December 8, 2022

Cotton Tells Woke Kroger to Pound Sand

When a corporate CEO sought Republican help against Democrat over-regulation, he got taken to the woodshed by the fed-up Arkansan.

In a week filled with infuriating news about Republican incompetence and deep state lawlessness, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton delivered a refreshing broadside to woke corporate CEOs everywhere.

The full exchange — if it can be called an exchange — took place during a November 29 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing during which Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen sought the GOP’s help against Democrats intent on interfering with his company’s announced merger with the Albertsons grocery store chain.

Cotton began by questioning McMullen about his company’s failure to make modest accommodations for religious liberty, including its firing in 2019 of two employees from an Arkansas store after they refused to wear multi-colored logos they believed represented the Rainbow Mafia’s “gay pride” flag.

Interestingly, but not convincingly, McMullen said the aprons with the rainbow-colored heart were not indicative of support for the LGBTQ cause and that the two employees weren’t fired for their religious belief. Yet the chain was ordered to pay $180,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of two women, one age 72 and the other age 57.

Cotton then questioned McMullen about his company’s “allyship guide,” which directs its employees to stop using words like “sir” and “ma'am” because they’re not sufficiently “inclusive.”

“Do you really expect 72-year-old employees in rural areas of Arkansas to stop using words like ‘sir’ and ‘ma'am’?” Cotton asked, somewhat rhetorically.

When Cotton asked whether the CEO would like to apologize to the wrongly terminated women, McMullen demurred, saying, “I would need to understand more of the details.”

Then Cotton pounced, taking the hapless CEO to task for his company’s — and other companies’ — habit of consistently taking the woke side in the culture wars rather than remaining neutral.

“You know,” Cotton began, “this situation reminds me a little bit of the situation Big Tech companies have found themselves in recent years. They’ve come to Washington because they fear regulation from our Democratic friends, or action by the Biden administration and they expect Republicans, who are traditionally more supportive of free enterprise, to come to their defense.”

Cotton continued: “And I’ve cautioned them for years that if they silence conservatives and center-right voters … if they discriminate against them in their company, they probably shouldn’t come and ask Republican senators to carry the water for them whenever our Democratic friends want to regulate them or block their mergers.”

“And I’ll say this,” Cotton concluded. “I’m sorry that’s happening to you. Best of luck.”

Kudos to Cotton. Here’s hoping other corporate CEOs were listening.

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