The far right’s anti-'woke' vendetta has cost Corporate America $28.7 billion since early April: report

The far right’s anti-'woke' vendetta has cost Corporate America $28.7 billion since early April: report

On the far right, "woke" has become one of the most weaponized terms of 2023. The term has come to have an extremely negative connotation among MAGA Republicans and right-wing media elite — so negative that, according to Axios' Javier E. David, anti-"wokeness" has collectively caused Target, Anheuser Busch and Kohl's to suffer a "$28.7 billion loss in market value since the beginning of April."

"Woke" is not a new expression. The term emerged in the Black community as far back as the 1940s, and for decades, it had a very positive connotation — essentially meaning enlightened, well-informed and politically aware. "Stay woke, brother" was a very positive thing to say among Black civil rights activists during the 1970s and 1980s.

But after white progressives adopted the term in recent years, MAGA Republicans weaponized it in much the same way they weaponized the term "social justice warrior." And some liberals have become critical of modern "wokeness" as well, including "Real Time" host Bill Maher.

READ MORE: Candace Owens: 'You’re gay or you’re a pervert' if you shop at Target over trans-inclusive wear

Far-right Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) indiscriminately used the term "woke" to attack anything they dislike, but Maher is much more concise in his definition; he views "wokeness" as political correctness on steroids and an authoritarian departure from traditional liberalism.

Similarly, centrist Democrat and former Philadelphia Mayor Mike Nutter, who is Black, has criticized "woke" white progressives he views as anti-law enforcement. Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville is critical of extreme "wokeness" as well.

But many of the things DeSantis and Cruz attack as "woke" — gay rights, transgender rights, abortion rights, environmentalism — are things Maher, Carville and Nutter have no problem with.

"Fiercely contested cultural issues have always aroused political passions, and held sway over electoral politics," David explains. "Yet Corporate America is finding itself trapped between society's progressive impulses, and the conservative backlash. Reactions and counter-offensives against all things 'woke' mean companies can find themselves in the crosshairs anytime, and they can't predict the fallout."

READ MORE: A Pride Month reminder: Corporations are not allies

The Axios reporter notes that Anheuser Busch "is still feeling the reverberations of its April decision to engage transgender social-media influencer Dylan Mulvaney" and that "both Kohl's and Target have been caught in the cultural maelstrom for selling LGBTQ-themed clothing, with right-leaning protests pressuring their stock prices."

"Pushback against Pride Month merchandise, and a Bank of America downgrade, shaved $15 billion from Target's market cap," David reports. "It's since recovered, currently sitting around $63 billion, down from around $74 billion in May…. Politics is having real economic and financial spillover effects, making it increasingly difficult for investors to price in those risks."

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis vows to 'destroy leftism' and 'woke ideology' if elected president

Read Axios' full report at this link.

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