For all of my adult life I have heard conservatives labeled intolerant by liberal elites who believe their worldview is the only acceptable worldview. However, in recent years—like most conservatives—I have learned what liberals really mean by tolerance. When a liberal labels someone intolerant, it means the person in question holds views that differ from those of the liberal doing the labeling. Correspondingly, a tolerant person is one whose views comport with liberal orthodoxy.
Liberals, as it turns out, are not really tolerant at all. Oh sure, they tolerate homosexuality, entitlement, redistribution of wealth, abortion on demand, class envy, terrorism, and many other things that are destructive to a civilized society. But, as it turns out, liberals are not so tolerant when it comes to such things as the principles of Christianity, traditional American values, patriotism, and merit-based decision making in hiring and college admissions. And they are downright intolerant when it comes to black Americans who adopt conservative values.
One of the most egregious examples of liberal intolerance of late was recently provided by Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. According to Joe Miller, Chairman of Restoring Liberty Action Committee, “At the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting…, CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message to anyone who supports traditional marriage over gay marriage: we don’t want your business. After saying Starbucks wants to ‘embrace diversity of all kinds,’ he told a shareholder who supports traditional marriage that he should sell his shares and invest in some other company.” The shareholder in question had pointed out to Schultz—the individual responsible for maintaining and increasing the value of Starbucks stock—that the company’s support of a gay marriage referendum had resulted in a decline in sales revenue.
This episode is just another example of a liberal who is out of touch with the responsibilities of his position. Howard Schultz was hired as CEO of Starbucks to add value for shareholders and ensure the financial well-being of his employer, not to use his position as a bully pulpit for personal social causes. Schultz’s views on gay marriage are his business and he can vote anyway he chooses on gay-marriage referendums in his home state. But as CEO of Starbuck’s he cannot justify knowingly taking actions that are detrimental to the company’s bottom line. Before telling customers and shareholders who are traditional marriage supporters to get lost, Schultz should have considered the example of J.C. Penney following its disastrous pro-homosexuality ad campaign featuring Ellen DeGeneres. In the wake of a precipitous decline in sales, J.C. Penney’s CEO was given a stark reminder that his job is to protect the investments of shareholders in his company, not to use his position to espouse controversial social causes.
I predict that liberal intolerance at the top is going to cost Starbucks dollars on the bottom line. When this happens, Mr. Schultz will have no one to blame but himself. Schultz may not like the fact that there are still Americans who have moral and religious objections to same-sex marriage, but he had better get used to it and become more tolerant of their views. Many of these Americans drink coffee and Starbucks is not the only provider of overpriced drinks with names like Quadruple Grande, Soy, Decaf, Five-Pump, Vanilla, Extra-Caramel, Add Whip, 180 degree Caramel Macchiato. Coffee lovers can now get drinks like this in convenience stores for less than Starbucks charges and no one will even ask about their views on same-sex marriage.