Take a stand, Detroit
Update: Reuters reported Monday afternoon that GM's head of human resources told employees in a memo that a few GM employees are from countries affected by the travel order, and added, "at General Motors, we value and respect individual differences."
Detroit’s fake-news factories are humming again with announcements of massive new investments in American manufacturing.
It’s a marvel of press release engineering. Look at us, Mr. Trump! We’re creating 14 factory jobs in the year 2026! See here, Mr. Trump! We’ve fired a parking-lot attendant in Mexico! Why, Mr. Trump, we hired someone to clean the blinds in a state you won! Do you like us now, Mr. Trump? Can we sit at your table now, Mr. Trump?
Meanwhile, there’s a sickening, shameful silence about the capricious travel and immigration restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.
Mark Fields got to it eventually, after spending the weekend expressing his excitement about working with Trump. He sent a reassuring message to his employees affirming the company’s opposition to the travel ban. Good for him.
Still no public word from General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.
Academia is speaking out. The tech industry is speaking out. Lyft is speaking out. Starbucks is speaking out. Republican senators are speaking out. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal editorial pages are speaking out. NBA coaches and Elon Musk are speaking out. Ordinary citizens with an understanding of what America means are speaking out.
And yet GM and FCA, champions of mobility for the masses, are silent (except about costly regulation and all the factory jobs they’re creating).
Look deep inside yourselves, Ms. Barra and Mr. Marchionne, and deep inside your companies. Think hard about what you choose to stand for, because your employees are watching. So are your customers.
If you’re intent on getting along with a White House that’s willing to discriminate against people based on their religion or national origin — and let’s not pretend this has anything to do with security — why should anyone trust that you wouldn’t do the same when it comes to hiring or promotions?
Get a clue, Detroit. That entrepreneurial, Silicon Valley culture you’re so desperate to instill in your companies? It arrived here on planes and through the immigration counters of SFO and LAX and JFK, just as it did in generations past on ships sailing into Jamestown, Plymouth and Ellis Island. As with any culture, it requires nurturing and reaffirmation, or it will die off.
So for America’s sake, and your own, GM and FCA, take a stand.
Just a few days ago, our editorial pages saluted this industry for putting people first. Don’t make us take it back. And quit pretending you’re pro-American if you haven’t the courage to stand up for the most American of ideals.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.