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CEOs Resign From Trump's Business Council

Executives Quit Following President's Charlottesville Response
posted onAugust 15, 2017
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Chief Executives Resign 

In the wake of Charlottesville, three chief executives serving on the presidential manufacturing council resigned their positions. The chief executives of Merck, Under Armour and Intel all quit their roles due to Trump’s response to the killing of a protestor by white supremacists in Virginia.

In a statement from Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck, he said:

 

“Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and religious beliefs.

 

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.

 

“As CEO of Merck and a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

 

Political Divisions

Intel’s Brian Krzanich said that he had resigned to “call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing.”

The American business has been walking a fine line in its relationship with Trump. While many feel that it is important to engage with the White House administration because of the influence that they could have over important policies, it is also causing potential headaches. Under Armour’s CEO, Kevin Plank, had praised Trump for being pro-business. This caused outrage among some of the companies customers. It also threatened their relationship with one of their most valuable endorsers, Stephen Curry.

Charlottesville Attack 

Trump’s response to the killing of an anti-fascist protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia, has provoked outrage across America and the world. One woman was killed, and another 19 people were injured when a car drove through a crowd of protestors.

President Trump responded to the event by condemning violence from all sides. This has been viewed as a sop to the white supremacist groups. The gathering in Virgina was organised by the alt-right, a political ideology which has emerged with the rise of Trump in the United States.

Alt-Right

The ideology tends to permeate among younger, white males who believe that traditional conservatism has failed. They feel that ‘white America’ is under threat from immigration policies pursued by the federal government. Using language that mirrors Nazi Germany, and other fascist organisations, they feel that America has been weakened by so-called ‘political correctness’, and that government bodies actively discriminate on behalf of minority groups.

This movement has not been limited to the United States. In France, the performance of the fascist party, Front National, confounded many mainstream commentators. As a political organisation, they emulated the language of the alt-tight, denouncing the immigration of Muslims as the main source of Europe’s woes.

The alt-right has been a major supporter of Trump since his arrival into the political arena during the Republican presidential nomination race. The outlet for this ideology is the news agency, Breitbart News. Steve Bannon, a founder of Breitbart, now serves as Donald Trumps chief political aide. Under Bannon’s stewardship of Breitbart, there was a rise of extremist comments on the website. Bannon himself, during an interview, described the new outlet as a platform for the alt-right.

Business Community - White House Relationship

As America’s reputation continues to diminish on the international stage in light of Trump’s administration, American companies are becoming nervous. Not wanting to isolate themselves from the political forces which impact on policies including taxation, they also need to preserve their brand image internationally.

Trump is also clashing with American businesses in pursuit of some of his policies. His denunciation of free trade agreements such as NAFTA is causing consternation among industries which rely on such agreements. The auto-industry relies on relies on trade with Mexico. The businesses community has also clashed with Trump over his immigration policies. Many in industry feel that they will be unable to attract the top talent internationally due to immigration controls.