What the #DumpKelloggs Movement Gets Wrong about Democracy
If there's any silver lining in the perpetual trash fire known as 2016, it's that companies are less shy about voicing their opinions on causes and campaigns they support. The NBA moved its All-Star Game out of North Carolina after the state passed a transphobic bathroom bill, taking a position against legalized discrimination toward transgendered persons. Tic-tacs spoke out against Donald Trump after leaked audio surfaced of the president-elect bragging about molesting women and enjoying minty-fresh breath in the process. Kellogg's is the most recent high-profile company to take an outspoken political stand, as it decided to drop its advertising on Breitbart—a conservative news site commonly associated with white nationalism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and about three quarters of the crap your conservative friends from high school post on Facebook.
Kellogg's decision to pull its ads from Breitbart was pointedly political, as Kris Charles, Kellogg's spokesperson, stated that Breitbart does not "align with our values as a company." Kellogg's Breitbart snub is the latest in a series of companies shunning the controversial media outlet, including Allstate, Earthlink, Warby Parker, SoFi, and Vanguard. But the growing cadre of companies shying away from Breitbart hasn't deterred the alt-right hate machine from kicking into overdrive. Their new target? Cereal. Because waging a war against non-white Americans wasn't banal enough. Enter: the #dumpkelloggs movement.
That a company opted to make a free-market decision to pull advertising from a site has, naturally, infuriated an internet community of strident free-market capitalists. Better yet, it prompted at least one Kellogg's employee to urinate on a cereal conveyor belt, because common decency and decorum also died in 2016. The usual cabal of frog-worshipping fascists whooped in delight, calling people "cucks" for no discernible reasons and ridiculing those who rely on food subsidies to survive. You know, run-of-the-mill political discourse.
The ultimate irony of the #dumpkelloggs movement is its seeming obliviousness to its own ideals. Conservative politics are all about the extolling the virtues of free market capitalism. In other words, allowing companies to do what they want with their money. This could mean anything from advertising where they please, to donating to causes they believe in. Conservatives also praise the value of free speech and civil liberties, meaning that individuals should be free to express themselves as they see fit. And yet, they're infuriated that a company would call out Breitbart for being a cesspool of xenophobic scare-mongering. They're incensed that a company would make a financial decision to distance itself from an outlet it doesn't want to identify itself with. This level of unironic hypocrisy is almost unprecedented—unless you remember that Trump threatened to strip flag-burners from their citizenship.
For these outspoken Trump supporters, it's not satisfying enough that their candidate won despite having zero qualifications. It's not enough that the United States has, in many respects, condoned racism, sexism, and religious discrimination by electing this cotton candy-haired Cheeto to the Oval Office. As we inch ever closer to inauguration day, it seems that the alt-right Trump Train won't be content until political dissent is quashed. The campaign of harassment launched by Reddit's the_donald community, as well as pro-Trump Twitter troll brigades, are not content to win—they want to be the only voice in the discussion.
And this is perhaps the most frightening part of Trump's impact on American politics. During no other recent era in American political history have we seen a winning side so fervently work to silence its critics. Real politics isn't about #dumpkelloggs, boycotting Tony the Tiger, or urinating on cereal boxes—it means engaging in real debate about serious issues. It means coming up with evidence-based opinions about policy, not retweeting racist Pepes and calling people cucks. Pulling advertising from an outlet is as American as apple pie—even when you don't agree with the reasons why. And if we as a country forget about this central democratic tenet—that we're allowed to disagree without fear of violence or intimidation—we're in for a long four to eight years. Or worse, an entire political generation.