Here come the flag-shaggers. June is Pride Month, the annual exercise in rainbow-washing, and if you listen very carefully you may even hear gay rights mentioned. You might be familiar with Pride Month from past years. On 31 May, the bank is offering you a fixed rate with a four per cent APRC; on 1 June, it wants you to know that, on the off chance you’re non-binary, your mortgage-lender thinks that’s valid.
The most obvious way for a corporation to signal its commitment to inclusivity is to emblazon its corporate branding with the Pride flag, but this is increasingly fraught with difficulty. Because, you see, the Pride flag is no longer inclusive. It’s a gay symbol, after all, and gay men and lesbians rank just below white people and non-graduates in The Current Ideology’s hierarchy of villainy.
Some brands get around this by using the Progress Pride flag instead and, speaking of banks, HSBC has gone down this route. Alas, progress is a fast-moving thing and while the Progress flag boasts additional stripes in blue, pink and white (trans pride) and brown and black (‘people of colour’), it isn’t as progressive as the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride flag, which adds a purple ring on a yellow background. Of course, this in itself is a symbol of oppression because it fails to incorporate the flags for polysexuals (those attracted to many genders) and polygenders (those who are many genders). If HSBC can’t get simple stuff like this right, how am I supposed to trust them with my reward current account?
A current trend to cancel all things Russian, even Tchaikovsky concerts, is a warning sign because it’s the same kind of thinking used during the totalitarian Soviet Union and can lead to more harm, according to Gary Saul Morson, a Northwestern University professor who has studied Russian literature and thought for decades.
“This should be a warning sign when you start thinking that because President [Vladimir] Putin does horrible things in Ukraine, we have to stop listening to Tchaikovsky,” Morson told NTD’s “The Nation Speaks” program on Mar. 26. “What’s going on here? How far can such thinking go?”
“To me, it’s reminiscent of exactly how the Soviets thought. They certainly divided the world into all good and all bad. And so, literally anything you did that hurt your enemy was good. And that was the basis of their morality,” said Morson. “It is what led to the horrors of Soviet behavior to killing millions of people.”
Imagine for a moment you are working in another country and your employer suddenly demands you publicly reject the country of your birth or face being fired. Imagine the country of your birth is run by a despot who imprisons political enemies, represses speech critical of the state, and your entire extended family still lives there.
What kind of choice is that?
Forcing an individual to publicly denounce their home country — while military tensions are at an all-time high, and protesters there are being arrested en masse — is an affront to empathy and compassion. The choice, to create an ethical dilemma that forces a worker to decide to keep their job or keep their family safe, is reprehensible.
Consider Anna Netrebko, the Met opera singer who recently withdrew from future engagements rather than publicly denounce Vladimir Putin.
“Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward,” Met General Manager Peter Gelb said.
Her forced withdrawal came despite her very clear opposition to the invasion itself: “I am opposed to this senseless war of aggression and I am calling on Russia to end this war right now, to save all of us. We need peace right now,” she said. “This is not a time for me to make music and perform. I have therefore decided to take a step back from performing for the time being. It is an extremely difficult decision for me, but I know that my audience will understand and respect this decision.”
She sounds reasonable. She also sounds like she wants to protect her family and maybe be able to safely go home one day.