As The Walt Disney Company. continues to be a target of Republicans in wars of political culture, the president Joe Biden once again trying to turn the attack on the Mouse House.
In remarks to the Democratic National Committee’s fundraiser on Wednesday, Biden targeted the “MAGA Republicans” as he and other Democrats try to shift attention to the far wing of the rival party.
The president referred to Florida’s new Parental Rights Act – which opponents called the “Don’t Tell Gays” bill – which prohibits K-3 teachers from teaching in classes of sexual orientation or gender identity. After The Walt Disney Co. announced its opposition to the law, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has attempted to strip Walt Disney World of a special tax district that allowed companies to self-manage things like land use and infrastructure.
Biden, however, has put Disney’s focus in context with other efforts in the states to ban some books in school libraries.
“Have you ever thought that in 2022 we will be in this situation – we will talk about banning books in schools? … What will happen to a gay child, L[G]BTQ child in school? I mean this thing. It’s one thing to take on Disney World. They are going to storm Cinderella’s castle before it’s over. “
Biden added: “If I had told you these things, I think you would have thought I was crazy.” Then he said seriously, “You may think I’m crazy, but …”
Disney has not commented on the Republican attacks, and perhaps as a measure of their influence (or lack of influence) on the company’s profits, Wall Street analysts did not raise questions about them during a call about corporate profits on Wednesday afternoon.
But as intermediate campaigns grow, and Republican contenders look to the 2024 presidential race, attention could draw attention to Disney. That’s what happened this week when sen. Josh Howley (R-MO) has introduced a law that repeals Disney’s copyright protection.
Contrary to DeSantis ’efforts to sanction Disney in Florida, Hawley’s bill remains in effect little chance of passing and would probably cause constitutional problemsbut Hawley’s focus was on Disney’s punishment for what he said was “waking up” even if it was an attack on the private sector. Howley wrote in a FoxNews.com article: “As Disney doubles its hostility to American values, it’s time to start removing that protection.”
This is in contrast to the way Ronald Reagan looked at the company. A year after resigning, Reagan appeared at Disneyland’s 35th anniversary celebrations and praised the theme park for showing “the essence of the American spirit.” Even Howley acknowledged that Republicans were “allegedly business-friendly.”
The attacks on Disney come at a time when corporations in general, often under pressure from employees, have been more willing to weigh on social issues that cause disagreement. As for LGBTQ rights, the threat of a corporate boycott helped end a tougher religious freedom bill in Indiana in 2015 and helped persuade the governor of Georgia to veto the 2016 religious freedom bill.
Due to the fact that the Supreme Court is potentially ready to overturn Row Wade, the pressure on companies may be even greater for them to speak out or take mitigation measures as the wave of states or the adoption of abortion bans. The message from Howley and a number of other Republicans is that corporations should remain silent.