When Florida Senator and former Governor Rick Scott laid into the Walt Disney Company last week in The Washington Examiner, I couldn’t help but think old Walt himself would applaud. The company’s “woke” leadership is turning Walt’s film and theme park business from iconic Americana to a disgraceful parody of itself.
“Disney used to be the happiest place on Earth,” wrote Senator Scott, but “now it’s just woke central.” He cited poll numbers showing that “fewer than 25% of Americans share the extreme views that Disney has endorsed.” He was referring to the company embracing the extreme Left’s lies about a new Florida law that excludes gender identity indoctrination in grades 1-3. They called it the “Don’t Say Gay” law, though it says no such thing. Scott elaborated:
What’s interesting is that the wokeness Disney has embraced in Florida isn’t reflected in its business around the world. While Disney tries to lecture us with these extreme views, the mouse is completely unwilling to speak up for freedom and against real oppression in places such as Communist China.
Disney has shamefully chosen to censor movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party. In the credits of its new Mulan movie, Disney thanked genocidal communist officials in Xinjiang for their help in filming, even as those officials were forcing millions of Uyghurs into slave labor. Disney continues to expand its presence in Communist China, even as Xi Jinping jails his political opponents, keeps up his attacks on democracy in Hong Kong, threatens Taiwan, puts Tibetans into labor camps, and forcibly harvests the organs of Falun Gong practitioners.
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So apparently, genocide is tolerable, but demanding that parents have a say in their children’s schooling goes just a bit too far.
It’s bad enough that Disney is going “woke” in its film and theme park offerings (except, of course, at Shanghai Disneyland and its smaller park in Beijing-controlled Hong Kong). It’s bad enough that the company censors itself before the Chinese Communist Party does it, as demonstrated when it removed an episode of “The Simpsons” in Hong Kong because it satirizes Beijing’s Orwellian suppression of the truth of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Now the gutless boneheads at the top are allying themselves with liars to weigh in on contentious legislative issues. Shame!
Walt would be terribly embarrassed. The icon who gave us Mickey Mouse, Snow White and so many more memorable characters opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1955 with this non-political, family-friendly greeting:
To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
Now, merely uttering the words “men and women, boys and girls” at a Disney theme park is verboten. Happiness at a Disney theme park now is so sanitized of tradition and drenched in politicized fads that I personally will never set foot in one again.
What a phenomenal man Walt Disney was! And so much more of a decent, freedom-loving, all-American hero than the goofy cowards who run the company today, sadly. As a cartoonist and animator, businessman, filmmaker, theme park pioneer, and cultural icon, Walt may have manufactured more happiness in the world than any other man or woman of the 20th century.
Disney deeply appreciated that liberty in America allowed him to invent, experiment, and ultimately succeed, as evidenced in this remark three years before his death: “To retreat from any of the principles handed down by our forefathers, who shed their blood for the ideals we still embrace, would be a complete victory for those who would destroy liberty and justice for the individual.”
The characters Disney and his colleagues created and popularized boast names that billions of people still know today: from Mickey Mouse to Cinderella. He remains the record-holder (a total of 59) for both Oscar nominations and actual wins.
Some people think that entrepreneurs build, innovate, and take risks just for the money they might make. But Walt was driven by the sheer joy of creativity and the fulfillment that comes from bringing happiness to others. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” he once said.
In a radio address on March 1, 1941, with Europe engulfed in Nazi aggression, Walt Disney said this:
Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave. That is why I believe that this frightfulness we see everywhere today is only temporary. Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life… I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy and freedom.
Not all of Disney’s films made money, by the way. Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Pollyanna were all box office flops at first. Undaunted, Disney faced each disappointment by planning his next adventure. He was happy even when he failed, and eager to learn from his failure.
“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there,” he said. “With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” If he were still alive and running the company today, I think he would keep it out of politics. He would regard the hyper-sensitive, intolerant “woke” stuff as a stupid distraction from the business of making people happy.
Walt Disney’s advice to young people is as commendable today as it was when he offered it more than half a century ago, in part because it’s also the way he lived his own life: “Do a good job. You don’t have to worry about the money; it will take care of itself. Just do your best work—then try to trump it.”
It seems that a common denominator on the Far Left is the penchant to take happiness and trash it with politics and ideology. What a shame that the company Walt started can’t muster either the integrity or the courage to stick to its knitting!
Like Senator Scott, I’ve canceled my Disney+ subscription. You should too.
Lawrence writes a weekly op-ed for El American. He is President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Atlanta, Georgia; and is the author of “Real heroes: inspiring true stories of courage, character, and conviction“ and the best-seller “Was Jesus a Socialist?“ //
Lawrence escribe un artículo de opinión semanal para El American. Es presidente emérito de la Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) en Atlanta, Georgia; y es el autor de “Héroes reales: inspirando historias reales de coraje, carácter y convicción” y el best-seller “¿Fue Jesús un socialista?”