Is it right to cancel Goya Foods because of CEO Bob Unanue's pro-Trump remarks?
- Goya Foods is the largest, Hispanic-owned food company in the United States that was founded in 1936.
- Robert Unanue, CEO of Goya Foods said, 'We are all truly blessed to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,' during the White House Rose Garden speech.
- Unanue announced on Thursday Goya would donate 1 million cans of chickpeas and 1 million other food products to American food banks.” CNN
- He called the outrage against him “suppression of speech.” Unanue was previously invited to the White House for an event hosted by the Obama administration for Hispanic Heritage Month.
- After his statement, #BoycottGoya, #GoyaFoods and #Goyaway immediately started trending on social media platforms with scorn coming from all directions, including some big political names, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julian Castro.
The idea that Goya Food should be canceled or boycotted after its CEO, Bob Unanue, openly praised President Donald Trump is ridiculous.
All Americans are entitled to their own personal opinion. There is nothing wrong or offensive about supporting the president and should not bring about condemnation. There are likely many other notable CEOs who agree with Trump. The fact that Unanue’s openness about it got the entire company in trouble with the liberal media is horrendously threatening to free speech.
Also notable is that CEO Unanue is Hispanic himself. He acknowledged that “the United States is the second-largest Hispanic country in the world behind Mexico,” and Goya Foods is involved with the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.
The Initiative is meant to “improve access by Hispanic Americans to education and economic opportunities,” so Unanue’s words should ideally be unifying. Yet, the apparent need to become offended by virtually everything has made it divisive. Political figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Julian Castro criticized Unanue for it, as the trending hashtag #Goyaway emerged.
Unanue rightfully defended himself, saying he participated in a similar event that took place on Thursday under President Obama yet was not criticized for it then. He was correct in calling the criticism “suppression of speech,” just because his optimism about the country resulted in a compliment towards President Trump. He noted that he will not apologize for his remarks, nor should he.
A boycott towards Goya is not a sensible response in defending the Hispanic community, considering that it produces food often used in Hispanic dishes that could be used to celebrate the culture.
Defenders of Unanue's position have pointed to the company's roots in the Hispanic community and 'history of philanthropy.' Responding to the backlash in an interview with Fox News, Unanue declined to apologize, calling the boycott a 'suppression of speech,' and mentioning how he also worked with the Obamas during the previous administration. However, none of this does much to address the actual concerns of those supporting the boycott, who cite 'Trump’s history of derogatory comments and harsh policies toward Hispanics.' This suggests that their problem is not with Goya Foods as a corporation, or even the CEO himself, outside of his outspoken support of Trump. It further suggests that the 'Hispanic Prosperity Initiative' which was being promoted is not enough to exonerate Trump for past words or actions in the eyes of detractors.
Regarding the charge of suppressing speech, as Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic in 2018, 'boycotting goods as a matter of conscience or a means of effecting change is a civic tradition so old that it predates the United States itself.' As an individual, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue is free to express his opinions. However, freedom of speech does not free him from the consequences of that speech, barring protection against violence or government retaliation. Furthermore, if those on Goya’s side see the boycott as problematic, let’s flip it around: how much worse is it that the CEO of a large corporation would rather buck against public opinion, and at the expense of his company’s bottom-line?