|TWITTER / ALEXANDRA HOOTNICK FOR THE N.Y. TIMES|
DONALD TRUMP JR. WITH YUENGLING; ULUKAYA WITH AN EMPLOYEE
It is a lead-pipe-cinch certainty that Donald Trump's toxic stain will not be washed away after Election Day. Or anytime soon. The sheer meanness of his presidential campaign and the bottled-up hate he has unleashed against people of color, the LGBT community and immigrants and refugees will be with us for a very long time. What then can be done? A small but significant step would be to boycott Yuengling Beer and support Chobani Yogurt.
Because Dick Yuengling, the owner of America's oldest brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is a slavish and very public supporter of Trump, while Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya has been targeted with racist attacks and conspiratorial articles on right-wing websites because he has hired 300 or so refugees from Africa and the Middle East to make his Greek yogurt at plants in New York and Idaho.
Let's be real clear here: Dick Yuengling can support anyone he chooses and say anything he wants. It's in the Constitution. But he has chosen to identify his brand with the demagogue adored by the very people -- racists and nativists, for openers -- who are advocating a boycott of Chobani and making life difficult for Ulukaya. That's not in the Constitution.
Yuengling's unabashed endorsement of Cheeto Jesus is based on his belief that "hard-working family businesses like Yuengling . . . would thrive" under a President Trump, according to the homers at the Reading Eagle newspaper.
That claim is factually suspect and ignores a larger reality.
Dick Yuengling does not actually make the beers and ales that have been produced at his family's Schuylkill County brewery since the early 1800s. His worker do. That is, the workers who have survived his notorious union-busting tactics. There also is the inconvenient reality that the Pottsville-Reading area has a growing Hispanic population and under a President Trump they not only would not be welcome, but his deportation police would jackboot through the Yuengling brewery and arrest and deport any workers not meeting Trump's draconian immigration litmus test. As would their families, as well.
While there have been news reports about bar owners in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., no longer selling Yuengling, many Americans would rather shoot their dog than part with their beer, so the long-term success of a boycott is suspect.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not a boycott guy. I did boycott California lettuce in the 1970s in support of César Chávez and his striking United Farm Workers, and I have avoided Nestlé's many consumer products since it was revealed the global giant was getting Third World mothers hooked on its infant formula despite being less healthy and more expensive than breast milk, and more recently going into out-of-the-way communities and robbing them of their water for their bottled water brands for enormous profit.)
Ulukaya is an American success story personified, but not one that Trump and his supporters would endorse.
He arrived in upstate New York from his native Turkey in the 1990s and by 2002 was making and selling feta cheese based on an old family recipe. When he learned that a yogurt and cheese factory in New Berlin, New York, that had been closed by Kraft Foods was for sale, he received a $800,000 loan from the Small Business Administration and started selling Chobani yogurt in 2007.
Ulukaya's business grew as yogurt products, and especially nutritious Greek yogurt, which is thicker and has a higher protein content than traditional yogurts, became popular. He found he needed more help, and when he learned there was a refugee resettlement center in a nearby town and the newcomers needed jobs, he hired them, brought in translators to assist them and paid them salaries above the minimum wage.
With business booming, he opened a second factory in Twin Falls, Idaho, which is the largest yogurt-producing facility in the world, and once again turned to a local resettlement center to hire refugees. Chobani also has a yogurt bar in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.
So let's recap:
Yuengling and Ulukaya are billionaires. Yuengling inherited his fortune while Ulukaya made it the old fashioned way. Yuengling does not offer paid parental leave or give shares of company stock to his employees. Ulukaya does both. Yuengling would be happy to brew beer under the thumb of a Trump presidency even if it meant any refugees he might have hired would be arrested. Ulukaya hires refugees and treats them well, and so he's a bad man.
Is America a great country? Or what?
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.
© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN