South Carolina Pulls $105M Investment from Disney Due to the Park’s Woke Agenda
On Dec. 5, it was announced that South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis had removed one of the Happiest Places on Earth from its approved investment list. This announcement comes on the heels of Elon Musk losing funding from Disney for his social media site, X (formerly known as Twitter).
Why did South Carolina pull its $105 million investment in The Walt Disney Company? Let’s get into it.
Why Is South Carolina No Longer Investing in Disney?
According to a news report from the State Treasurer of South Carolina website, Loftis believed that “Disney has abandoned its fiduciary responsibility to its investors and customers by joining far-left activists in boycotting legal, taxpaying, employment-creating corporations to further Disney’s political agenda.”
The state treasurer’s office manages approximately $41 billion in U.S. fixed-income securities, which included $105 million of Disney debt instruments.
What Far-Left Activism Is Disney Supporting?
Loftis announced that South Carolina would not replace its large investment in Disney after Disney pulled advertising from X over antisemitic content from social media users and owner Elon Musk.
Disney joined hundreds of other major corporations last month in a boycott against X. However, many conservatives say this action from the company adds to their long list of grievances that show a pattern of “silencing” free speech.
Curtis Loftis Says Corporations Are Ganging Up on Elon Musk’s X
“They ganged up with Media Matters, Walmart, IBM, and other multibillion-dollar corporations with global reach getting together and boycotting X, which is really boycotting working-class people using X as a free speech platform,” he told The Washington Times.
Loftis continued, saying, “I don’t think you should have billionaires ganging up like hooligans pushing people out of their free speech space.”
Curtis Loftis Defends Elon Musk’s Comments
Loftis, who has invested $150 million of the state’s money in Israeli bonds since taking office in 2011, doesn’t believe that “there’s an antisemitic bone in Elon Musk’s body,” despite Musk agreeing with users who falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people. In his post on X, Musk said the user, who referenced the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, was speaking “the actual truth.”
“All that is a tempest in the teapot. I am pro-Jew, pro-Judaism, pro-Zionism,” Mr. Loftis said. “I’m as pro-Israel as they come. This is a canard.”
The U.S. Senate Warns of the Rise of Antisemitism
Musk’s comments came on the same day the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that the ongoing Israel-Hamas war has reached a crisis point, leading to a rise in antisemitism and threatening the safety of Jewish people across the world.
“To us, the Jewish people, the rise in antisemitism is a crisis. A five-alarm fire that must be extinguished,” Schumer said in an emotional, 40-minute Senate speech (via Reuters).
Will South Carolina’s Move Impact Disney?
South Carolina’s total investments are about $41 billion, while Disney’s is worth nearly $170 billion. Unfortunately, the act on South Carolina’s Treasure is barely a drop in Disney’s well. Loftis knows that Disney will be fine and the state will survive, but that the move was about protest more than anything else.
“Disney will survive, of course, and the state will survive, but we’re making sure people understand we don’t need this type of imbalance in America,” Mr. Loftis told The Washington Times. “The first guy through the door catches the arrows. You step out front, you stand up for what you think is right and then others often follow.”
Why Do Conservatives Say Disney Is Pushing a “Woke” Agenda?
This isn’t the first time Disney has been caught in conservative controversy. Following Florida signing law HB 1557, referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law which prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender, Disney denounced the law after a period of silence.
The Disney CEO at the time, Bob Chapek, released multiple statements on the law, saying that the law should “never have passed, and should never have been signed into law” (via The Walt Disney Company).
Disney Pushes Back Against the Conservative Bill
The company told its employees that they would be “reassessing our approach to advocacy — including political giving in Florida and beyond,” but some felt that the mixed messaging from Disney did more harm than good (via Deadline).
Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that Disney was taking a step in the right direction, but that “it was merely the first step” (via NPR).
Elon Musk Had a Few Choice Words for Disney
In an interview at the 2023 DealBook Summit in New York on Nov. 29, the Tesla CEO didn’t pull punches when discussing advertisers who pulled ads from X. “If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go **** yourself,” he said.
Musk then directed his message toward Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney, who decided to pull ads on X. Perhaps learning from the delay of their actions on the Don’t Say Gay bill, Iger quickly parted ways with Musk.
Bob Iger Says Disney Will Return Its Focus to Entertainment
From its recent films and TV shows to its relationships with big business or politicians, Disney has been heavily criticized for its “woke agenda” by many conservatives. Since his return, Iger has had a few comments on these criticisms.
At the New York Times Dealbook Conference on Nov. 29, the same conference Musk made his fiery statements, Iger said that the creators at Disney had “lost sight” of what their jobs should be and that they should be entertaining first and not focused on delivering a message.
Which Side Is Disney On?
It is not clear where Disney stands during the controversy and heavily divided public opinion. While Iger says he will do what is best for the company, it is hard for people to align themselves with a company that shares their beliefs.
The Walt Disney is deeply embedded in our lives whether we know it or not. The company has contradicting stances that muddy the waters for the public but keeps adding profits to the company. At the end of the day, profiting is all Disney seems to care about.