Last week, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue made headlines for saying that “we are all truly blessed . . . to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder” while he was in the White House Rose Garden alongside Trump. CNN journalists were quick to denounce Unanue as, effectively, a traitor to the Hispanic race. Reports of a Goya boycott soon surfaced. So did reports of a “buy-cott” (people going out of their way to buy Goya as a rejection of cancel culture, often in support of charity initiatives). Meanwhile, President Trump, so infrequently praised by the pop culture or corporate establishments, has predictably made a point of throwing his full support behind Goya, posing in front of its products and endorsing the company on several social-media platforms. Even Ivanka Trump has made sure to back Goya, possibly violating a government ethics rule in the process.
Everyone has something to say on Goya, good or bad. But the reality is, like in so many chapters of our country’s messy culture war, no one has been intellectually honest on the topic — it’s all about owning the other side. Liberals, who have mocked conservatives in the past as “the real snowflakes” for boycotting Nike, a company that has waged a mass smear campaign against the dignity of the United States through the likes of Colin Kaepernick, are now incensed at Unanue for uttering one sentence of praise for the incumbent president. Conservatives such as Ted Cruz, in the past all for boycotts of companies like Nike, now draw the line and attack the Goya boycott, not simply because it is unnecessary and overblown, but because it supposedly “silences free speech.” Unanue himself claims that his speech is being suppressed. But do these people think that the Nike boycott silenced free speech? Unlikely. Certainly, to be so diligent against infringements of free speech, as conservatives are, one must take care not to cry wolf when there is no real danger. Active social pressures are not the same as the tyranny of the mob, or as government oppression.
In short, liberals should understand the irony of constantly advocating social activism while rebuking its critics, and then losing their minds when such activism is directed towards ends they don’t appreciate. Conservatives should recognize that not every liberal movement is an assault on free speech — certainly not the Goya boycott. In cases such as these, no progress will be made, no “national conversation” advanced, until everyone commits to practicing intellectual consistency. But in the meantime, watching Twitter go nuts over Trump posing with a can of Goya coconut milk he’s probably never tasted is pretty fantastic — not gonna lie.