Earlier this week, Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks, wrote a letter to his employees entitled, "Living Our Values in Uncertain Times." In it, he responded to President Trump's recent executive order, banning the entry into the US of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Schultz stated that the order called American values into question and then outlined several measures that Starbucks would be taking in response, including hiring 10,000 refugees over the next five years in the 75 countries in which Starbucks does business. Starbucks' effort would start, Schultz said, with the US, where the company would endeavour to hire those who have "served with US troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support."
Could anyone really argue with that?
Shit hit the fan this week when the #MAGA troops took to the Internet and called for a boycott of Starbucks. Welcome to the hashtag (of course there's a hashtag) #BoycottStarbucks. The rationale of the Trump supporters seems to be that the refugees the coffee corporation seeks to employ will be hired "instead of Americans." No matter that the letter said the hiring would be spread over 75 countries.
Naturally, this being an Internet war, the anti-Trump side is now mobilising and trying to get #BuyStarbucks to take off. Zero Dark Thirty actress Jessica Chastain is leading the way.
Starbucks often manages to find itself at the centre of the American culture wars; previously, its cups have become the accidental bearers of political messages and have been criticised as being emblems of political correctness for their holiday colour scheme. Schultz was a Hillary Clinton supporter, and word spread before Election Day that he might even have been her pick for Labor Secretary.
A spokesperson for Starbucks told MUNCHIES the following: "Our company's mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time in neighbourhoods all over the world. We make decisions based on our mission, values and heritage and we recognise that sometimes there are some who may disagree with us. We respect the diverse points of views held by our partners and customers and will continue to listen."
Schultz's letter did not shy away from direct criticism of Trump's executive order. He wrote, "We are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question." What's more, he said, Starbucks "will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new Administration's actions grows with each passing day."
Serving people coffee? It's a political act in 2017.