When it comes to President Donald Trump and knee-jerk reactions to policy decisions without gathering all the facts, it seems the mostly liberal CEOs of the best-known Silicon Valley companies can’t help themselves. They would rather shoot from the lip first, taking their cues from all the president’s leftist enemies, instead of gathering all the evidence and speaking responsibly on the issues – if at all.
It happened again over the weekend, this time in response to the President’s executive order that temporarily suspended the admission of foreign nationals into the United States from seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – which are viewed as sources of potential threats, based upon security reviews by Obama administration officials. The reason for the suspension, Trump explained, is so appropriate security agencies that normally screen foreign nationals entering the country would have the time and resources to properly review their policies and procedures. Former CIA Director John Brennan told a Select Senate Intelligence Committee last year that ISIS was expected to infiltrate the West as “operatives for attacks” by a variety of means, including “refugee flows.”
Many in the media, and Trump’s opponents, mischaracterized the decision as a “Muslim ban.” The order, however, does not mention any religion as the reason for its exclusions, and many other larger Muslim-majority countries are not under the short-term ban.
But those clear points didn’t matter to some of the better-known technology company executives, who would rather anger half the country that supported Trump – who expected him to follow through on his promises, like “Making America Safe Again” – instead of realizing they draw customers and shareholders from all political persuasions.
Among the excuses offered up by the mainstream media was the point, as the Associated Press noted, that “the U.S tech industry relies on foreign engineers and other technical experts for a sizeable percentage of its workforce.” The news syndicate reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees in a memo, “We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company.” He also said, “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”
That’s just one of many examples of tech executives who did not bother to read Trump’s order, which put American security interests first, inconvenienced only a few, did nothing to halt immigration, and affected only a few countries that are not huge resources of tech company manpower.
Google did single out one example, though, as its executives and employees staged rallies at their offices and facilities around the country in protest against the president’s action. At its large protest at its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, they found an Iranian employee – product manager Soufi Esmaelizadeh – among their ranks to trot out and put in front of a microphone.
“This executive order is racist, unconstitutional and needs to be revoked,” Esmaelizadeh said to her rabid anti-Trump co-workers.
Last week the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, told employees that the Trump administration was “going to do these evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others.” He also said, “These prejudicial actions are discriminatory and anti-globalization, and I did everything I could to cause a different outcome.” This is unsurprising, coming from a surrogate of the Hillary Clinton campaign. As NLPC’s Peter Flaherty wrote yesterday, with all the data collection of Google users for political purposes, Schmidt should see “evil things” when he looks in the mirror.
Then there was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has donated significantly to immigration expansion efforts in recent years. After Trump’s executive order he posted on Facebook, “The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that. We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat… We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That’s who we are.”
And Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg added, “The Executive Orders issued over the past week defy the heart and values that define the best of our nation….In every generation since our country was founded, immigrants become new citizens and help us innovate and stay strong. How we treat some of the most vulnerable people on the planet says a lot about who we are. That history is something we must remember and honor now.”
So two more moralizing executives didn’t read Trump’s order, and cared little about the will of the electorate of their home country.
Several other tech execs similarly weighed in:
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (who may pursue legal action): “America is a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. To our employees in the US and around the world who may be directly affected by this order, I want you to know that the full extent of Amazon’s resources are behind you.”
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey: The “humanitarian and economic impact of the ban is real and upsetting. Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the US.”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft: “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”
Elon Musk, Tesla: “Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right, not wrong & don’t deserve to be rejected.”
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner: “All ethnicities should have access to opportunity — founding principle of U.S.”
Mozilla CEO Chris Beard: “The immigration ban imposed by Friday’s executive order is overly broad and its implementation is highly disruptive to fostering a culture of innovation and economic growth.” He added the he believes that “The ban will have an unnecessary negative impact to the health and safety of those affected and their families, not to mention rejecting refugees fleeing persecution, terror and war.”
Lyft Co-Founders Logan Green and John Zimmer: “We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive, and safe.
“This weekend, Trump closed the country’s borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin. Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky: “This is a policy that I profoundly disagree with and it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb. We believe that you should be able to travel to and live in any community around the world. This is what we mean when we say anyone should belong anywhere.”
And the list goes on. Meanwhile a Reuters poll found that Americans overall support Trump’s agenda to limit migration into the U.S., and to reduce immigration. These perspectives, which represent the larger potential customer and shareholder base more than the Silicon Valley echo chambers, should be heeded as well. Unfortunately the arrogant and moralizing attitudes that lost them the race for Hillary Clinton may also cost them customers and investment.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center.