Add Barnes and Noble Booksellers to the Woke Club

CommentaryWoke corporations risk losing business by focusing on social policies that detract from business growth. When will woke corporations ever learn that woke policies offend significant portions of their customer bases? Will stockholders finally be fed up with resultant stock losses due to the implementation of woke policies that turn off customers? Woke policies include support for LGBTQ activism, the cancel culture, social justice, diversity over merit, and other non-business-related social issues that adversely impact company growth. And every corporate rock overturned these days seems to uncover another example—in this instance, Barnes and Noble Booksellers. Let us examine the topic in some detail. The commission of “business seppuku” by Walt Disney’s pride and joy has made a lot of news over the past couple of months. His company is perhaps the premier example of a woke corporation losing major value due to its implementation of pro-LGBTQ policies. One news outlet reported on May 3 that “Walt Disney Co. has lost nearly $63 billion in market capitalization since it decided in March to embrace radical LGBTQ activism and declare war on Florida by opposing the state’s Parental Rights in Education law.” A firestorm erupted when Disney’s support for LGBTQ influencing of children was exposed in March, as noted by The Federalist here: “On the heels of Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law, which bars educators from instructing kindergarten through third-grade students about sexual ideology, multiple executives and employees from the Walt Disney Company admitted their own personal missions to deluge 5- to 9-year-olds with as much of their own sexual ideology as possible.” Protesters rally in opposition to The Walt Disney Company’s stance against a recently passed Florida law outside of the company’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., on April 6, 2022. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times) Besides the market cap plunge, another unexpected body blow for Disney was the loss of its independent special district status, which removes Disney’s special tax advantages, transfers all infrastructure assets such as roads, bridges, utilities, etc. to local governments, and ends Disney’s ability to construct new buildings without going through the tedious and expensive permit process to which other Florida businesses are subject. SB 4C was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on April 22. Retailer Target Corporation has also made the news recently. Target has been under fire since implementing a transgender-friendly bathroom policy back in 2016 that led to numerous boycotts. That decision led to a $15 billion loss in stock value in February 2017. Target subsequently doubled down with its “Take Pride” hashtag campaign promoting the LGBTQ agenda, as well as the promotion of “rainbow-themed merchandise” in its stores. Fast-forward to the 1,164-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on May 18. An article by Barron’s pointed to losses by Target as the primary driver behind the plunge, as its shares lost 25 percent. While supply chain challenges and transportation costs impacted Target’s balance sheet, the stigma of being a woke corporation played at least a part in Target’s problems, as past customers with traditional values have long memories. And then there is the venerable Barnes and Noble, Inc., the largest bookseller in the United States that seems to have stores in every major mall in America. Who among us hasn’t spent time browsing in a Barnes and Noble store for a good book to read? The company boasts 600 stores across the country and an online presence that has “over 5 million books ready to ship, 3.6 million eBooks and 300,000 audiobooks to download,” according to the company’s website. But did you know that Elliott Management acquired Barnes and Noble in 2019 for $683 million? According to ABC News Australia, Elliott Management “is the biggest activist hedge fund in the world.” Paul Singer, founder and president of Elliott Management Corporation, speaks onstage during The New York Times DealBook Conference at One World Trade Center in New York City on Dec.11, 2014. (Thos Robinson/Getty Images for New York Times) The founder and president of Elliott Management is Paul Singer, a man who has supported LGBTQ issues for over a decade. He was perhaps the person most responsible for the legalization of “same-sex marriage” in the United States through the long-term backing of various pro-LGBTQ organizations. Singer’s LGBTQ activism now appears to have found its way into Barnes and Noble stores. People raised in the central United States—from the northern plains southward through Oklahoma—frequently remark that cultural changes that start on the coasts take years to make their way to the country’s interior. Examples include the introduction of men’s long hairstyles, the drug culture, and disrespect for authority (the 1960s generation). And so, too, with LGBTQ activism. A visit to

Add Barnes and Noble Booksellers to the Woke Club

Commentary

Woke corporations risk losing business by focusing on social policies that detract from business growth.

When will woke corporations ever learn that woke policies offend significant portions of their customer bases?

Will stockholders finally be fed up with resultant stock losses due to the implementation of woke policies that turn off customers?

Woke policies include support for LGBTQ activism, the cancel culture, social justice, diversity over merit, and other non-business-related social issues that adversely impact company growth. And every corporate rock overturned these days seems to uncover another example—in this instance, Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

Let us examine the topic in some detail.

The commission of “business seppuku” by Walt Disney’s pride and joy has made a lot of news over the past couple of months. His company is perhaps the premier example of a woke corporation losing major value due to its implementation of pro-LGBTQ policies.

One news outlet reported on May 3 that “Walt Disney Co. has lost nearly $63 billion in market capitalization since it decided in March to embrace radical LGBTQ activism and declare war on Florida by opposing the state’s Parental Rights in Education law.”

A firestorm erupted when Disney’s support for LGBTQ influencing of children was exposed in March, as noted by The Federalist here: “On the heels of Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law, which bars educators from instructing kindergarten through third-grade students about sexual ideology, multiple executives and employees from the Walt Disney Company admitted their own personal missions to deluge 5- to 9-year-olds with as much of their own sexual ideology as possible.”

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters rally in opposition to The Walt Disney Company’s stance against a recently passed Florida law outside of the company’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., on April 6, 2022. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Besides the market cap plunge, another unexpected body blow for Disney was the loss of its independent special district status, which removes Disney’s special tax advantages, transfers all infrastructure assets such as roads, bridges, utilities, etc. to local governments, and ends Disney’s ability to construct new buildings without going through the tedious and expensive permit process to which other Florida businesses are subject. SB 4C was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on April 22.

Retailer Target Corporation has also made the news recently. Target has been under fire since implementing a transgender-friendly bathroom policy back in 2016 that led to numerous boycotts. That decision led to a $15 billion loss in stock value in February 2017. Target subsequently doubled down with its “Take Pride” hashtag campaign promoting the LGBTQ agenda, as well as the promotion of “rainbow-themed merchandise” in its stores.

Fast-forward to the 1,164-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on May 18. An article by Barron’s pointed to losses by Target as the primary driver behind the plunge, as its shares lost 25 percent.

While supply chain challenges and transportation costs impacted Target’s balance sheet, the stigma of being a woke corporation played at least a part in Target’s problems, as past customers with traditional values have long memories.

And then there is the venerable Barnes and Noble, Inc., the largest bookseller in the United States that seems to have stores in every major mall in America. Who among us hasn’t spent time browsing in a Barnes and Noble store for a good book to read?

The company boasts 600 stores across the country and an online presence that has “over 5 million books ready to ship, 3.6 million eBooks and 300,000 audiobooks to download,” according to the company’s website.

But did you know that Elliott Management acquired Barnes and Noble in 2019 for $683 million?

According to ABC News Australia, Elliott Management “is the biggest activist hedge fund in the world.”

Epoch Times Photo
Paul Singer, founder and president of Elliott Management Corporation, speaks onstage during The New York Times DealBook Conference at One World Trade Center in New York City on Dec.11, 2014. (Thos Robinson/Getty Images for New York Times)

The founder and president of Elliott Management is Paul Singer, a man who has supported LGBTQ issues for over a decade. He was perhaps the person most responsible for the legalization of “same-sex marriage” in the United States through the long-term backing of various pro-LGBTQ organizations.

Singer’s LGBTQ activism now appears to have found its way into Barnes and Noble stores.

People raised in the central United States—from the northern plains southward through Oklahoma—frequently remark that cultural changes that start on the coasts take years to make their way to the country’s interior. Examples include the introduction of men’s long hairstyles, the drug culture, and disrespect for authority (the 1960s generation). And so, too, with LGBTQ activism.

A visit to the Barnes and Noble store in Billings, Montana, provided witness to the changing values of the bookseller in 2022. A centrally-located pyramid-shaped display featured a host of LGBTQ-related books, pamphlets, journals, and other items. Upon inspection, some of the material could only be classified as pornography under traditional definitions. Transgender employees openly wore “we/they” pins as badges of authority. And the manager wore a t-shirt with a rainbow logo and LGBTQ slogan as apparently her “uniform.”

Customers must wonder: is it now the policy of Barnes and Noble to enable and support sexual dysphoria?

Conclusion

While Barnes and Noble is perfectly within its rights to project an in-your-face pro-LGBTQ aura to its customers, the company fails to acknowledge and respect the equally valid rights of its customers to be offended by what many consider to be gross immorality. There is a big difference between tolerating (to put up with) and condoning (to treat something as harmless)—the latter of which is what the LGBTQ activists seek to force on others.

Is Barnes and Noble prepared to lose the business of long-time customers whom they offend for the sake of wokeness, virtue-signaling, and LGBTQ activism? This is the abiding question for all such woke corporations. There are definitely alternatives.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.