Posted on September 16, 2020

The Woke Capitalism Grift

Rod Dreher, The American Conservative, September 14, 2020

I gotta hand it to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning matriarch of The 1619 Project. She’s doing very, very well thanks to Woke Capitalism. If Shell Oil pays her to lead “emancipation conversations” about race in America, it buys lots of goodwill from nice liberals who might otherwise look askance to Shell’s global business practices.


Shell Oil Woke Capitalism

The World Socialist Web Site has been hell on Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Project because it regards the project as a massive distraction from the problems of class and economic exploitation. In their essay about NHJ’s collaboration with Shell, Trévon Austin and Bill Van Auken write:

Hannah-Jones’ appearance in Texas was sponsored by the Houston-based Shell Oil Company. This is the US subsidiary of the oil and gas corporate giant Royal Dutch Shell, which is confronting international public outrage over its involvement in massive human rights abuses in the African country of Nigeria. The focus of protests has been Shell’s collaboration with the Nigerian government in the suppression of the Ogoni ethnic group. The company currently faces multiple court cases over its complicity in the murder of thousands, including the Nigerian dictatorship’s hanging in 1995 of the well-known Ogoni writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Hannah-Jones is unsparing in her condemnation of the moral failings of the democratic revolutionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries. She can barely contain her contempt for those who failed to leap out of the historical epoch in which they lived and embrace the rhetoric of 21st century middle-class identity politics. But the unforgiving code of ethics she imposes upon the historic figures of the past does not seem to apply to herself. Her own personal moral compass does not seem to be in working order.


The crimes committed by Shell in Ogoniland did not occur in the 18th, 19th or even the early decades of the 20th centuries. This is a contemporary event and an ongoing crime. Shell is now on trial at a court in The Hague, charged with complicity in murder, rape and burning down villages by the Nigerian regime. The plaintiffs are the widows of four of the nine Ogoni leaders who were hung after being falsely convicted by the dictatorship’s sham tribunal. Shell fought an earlier attempt to try the company in the US all the way to Supreme Court, where the case was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds.


Read it all.

{snip} Say something nice about The 1619 Project, and your corporation can blackwash its reputation for cruelty and exploitation in Africa. {snip}

{snip} This is what Woke Capitalists do. They colonize progressive causes by donating to them and publicizing them, with the hoped-for effect of silencing criticism from the left. Jesse Jackson was a master at exploiting this grift back in his heyday. Almost twenty years ago, I wrote about his Wall Street Project and its left-coast offspring, the Silicon Valley Project, which was ostensibly about getting more blacks into the finance and tech industries, but which had the miraculous effect of raising money and status for the Rev. Jackson. As I wrote in the NYPost back then:

It’s long past time for corporate heads to smoke out the real Jackson, a shakedown artist who squeezes millions from businesses by, in effect, offering them protection against bad, race-based publicity. His Wall Street Project is supposed to encourage financial firms to be more open to minority employment and opportunities.

Its Web site brags that it “helps determine corporate targets who should be trading partners” – that is, supporters.

“Targets”? “Should be”? They’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. Jackson has the same scam going out west – the Silicon Valley Project.

From sea to shining sea, only T.J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, has had the courage to stand up to Jackson.

When Jackson came calling, hat in hand, Rodgers rebuffed him, saying Silicon Valley had nothing to be ashamed of regarding its diverse work force.

The response? A Jackson ally told the press, “We can now officially describe Cypress Semiconductor as a white-supremacist hate group.”

Got it? Cross Jesse Jackson, and find your company likened to the Ku Klux Klan. No wonder so many CEOs are scared.


And once again, it is way past time for conservatives to understand that Big Business is no friend of ours. {snip}