Cyberfrog creator Ethan Van Sciver recently contended on his popular YouTube channel ComicArtistPro Secrets that the government is funding left-wing comics and other media, causing a stir in the industry.
On Twitter on Oct. 28, Van Sciver wrote, “SJWs are acting panicky at my suggestion that there might be some kind of financial incentive (in the form of a private or government grant of some kind) for comic book publishers to race, sexuality and gender swap characters in their comics. Nothing to see here, I guess!”
SJWs are acting panicky at my suggestion that there might be some kind of financial incentive (in the form of a private or government grant of some kind) for comic book publishers to race, sexuality and gender swap characters in their comics.
Nothing to see here, I guess! pic.twitter.com/LDan151S7p
— ALL CAPS COMICS (@EthanVanSciver) October 28, 2021
Van Sciver is right. There is huge a financial incentive. The federal government the past six years has opened the door for left-wing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing via private retirement funds regulated under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) via a regulation by the Obama Labor Department in 2015.
The Obama rule allows pension plan managers to give additional weight to companies touting ESG goals that focus on green energy, cleaning up the environment, are anti-oil, anti-coal, anti-carbon, anti-tobacco, anti-guns, embracing critical race theory, implementing diversity and inclusion hiring quotas and practices and other left-wing issues. Having a high ESG rating (pro-environment and/or diversity & inclusion quotas) gives a company weighted investments in ESG funds.
Now, under President Joe Biden the $762 billion federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal employee retirees will be investing in ESG funds as well going into effect in 2022, following state government employee retirement funds in California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland and Oregon. that have been making similar investments for years.
Those are tax dollars, paid into government employee retirement plans, that will now go directly to left-wing investing. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the financial incentives put into place by the 2015 Obama Labor Department rule.
Thanks to the combination of incentives and direct funds, ESG funds, which total $38 trillion out more than $100 trillion global assets under management, will grow to $53 trillion by 2025, according to Bloomberg News.
All pursuing woke, left-wing political activism including the diversity and inclusion agenda Van Sciver routinely criticizes companies like AT&T, Disney, Hasbro and Mattel for pursuing. This is why in part stocks like Tesla have recently rallied to more than $1,100 per share despite not generating much profits for years, because they are weighted so heavily by ESG funds. With ESG investing, profits are divorced from valuation. Here, saving the world takes precedence.
Investopedia defines ESG as “a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.”
Big ESG funds like BlackRock have managed to place green activists onto the board of Exxon. Phillip Morris has recently promised to reorder its product line to be less than 50 percent tobacco, all in a bid for some of those sweet ESG bucks. This is happening in board rooms across America!
This is a trend you see where woke activists take over what the left perceives to be “harmful” industries. That’s why the ever-popular Ringling Brothers closes the Greatest Show on Earth to “save” the elephants.
And that’s why popular, masculine superheroes and action heroes must be emasculated and replaced with female, minority, gender-neutral or gay versions of the characters we see today in comic books, movies and television, especially children’s entertainment. Female Doctor Who. Female Ghostbusters. Female Iron Man. Female Thor. Bisexual Superman and Robin. And so forth.
When the scale of ESG is considered — hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars thanks in part to government regulatory incentives via retirement investing, including government pensions, plus direct investments by government employee retirement funds — it is the firmest explanation for the current corporate push for diversity for its own sake we see now.
Each of these corporations — AT&T, Disney, Hasbro and Mattel, and Discovery, too, which will complete its purchase of WarnerMedia from AT&T in 2022 — explicitly touts ESG diversity and inclusion goals in their annual corporate reports.
This is why “Truth, Justice and the American Way!” had to die. It was on the crucible of Diversity & Inclusion.
AT&T first included D&I objectives in Sept. 2018 after its merger with Time Warner was completed. This was the same year Van Sciver was let go of by DC Comics to bring Cyberfrog back into print after more than 20 years.
In its 2018 report, AT&T’s then-CEO Randall Stephenson announced the company’s new Diversity & Inclusion Policy, “I am proud of our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce. WarnerMedia’s new Diversity & Inclusion Policy, announced in September, is a pioneering media industry commitment to give more opportunities to women, people of color and individuals from other underrepresented groups – both in front of and behind the camera.”
Van Sciver has previously reported his colleagues similarly being jettisoned as the merger with AT&T was completed in 2018.
As for the other companies, Disney, which owns Marvel Comics, states in its 2020 report, “Diversity and inclusion (D&I). Our [Diversity & Inclusion] D&I objectives are to build teams that reflect the life experiences of our audiences, while employing and supporting a diverse array of voices in our creative and production content. Established six pillars that serve as the foundation for our D&I commitments – transparency, accountability, representation, content, community, and culture. Created a pipeline of next-generation creative executives from underrepresented backgrounds through programs such as the Executive Incubator, Creative Talent Development and Inclusion (CTDI), and the Disney Launchpad: Shorts Incubator. Championed targeted development programs for underrepresented talent. Hosted a series of culture-changing, innovation and learning opportunities to spark dialogue among employees, leaders, Disney talent and external experts. Sponsored over 70 employee-led Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) that represent and support the diverse communities that make up our workforce. The BERGs facilitate networking and connections with peers, outreach and mentoring, leadership and skill development and cross-cultural business.”
Mattel, which owns properties like He-Man, in its 2020 report stated its Diversity & Inclusion commitments: “As a purpose-driven company, we have raised the bar on our commitment to corporate citizenship… Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (“DEI”) is another key priority for Mattel, and we are building on our long heritage in this important area by continuing to advance our DEI efforts across the Company and representing diversity and inclusivity in our products.”
Discovery, which will control WarnerMedia including DC Comics in 2022, in its 2020 report announced its own Diversity & Inclusion objectives: “Our DE&I objective is to foster a culture of equity, inclusion, and mutual respect. In 2020 we emphasized our DE&I focus through Mosaic – our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activation. Mosaic covers a range of initiatives, including: Unconscious Bias, Respect & Integrity; Allyship; Recruitment and Career Development; Content Diversity; Supplier Diversity; and Social Impact. We sponsor over 30 chapters of Employee Resource Groups (“ERGs”) across the globe with more than 2,500 members. ERGs draw upon their collection of unique experiences to help drive our mission of fostering a diverse and inclusive environment and provide important insights to our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives… We have a department dedicated to social good that builds and oversees consumer and employee-facing initiatives and campaigns. We leverage our platforms, resources, and employee base to make an impact in our communities and with our key nonprofit partners. We have corporate partnerships aimed at addressing childhood hunger, racial injustice and wildlife preservation.”
And Hasbro in its 2020 report announced explicit racial and gender hiring quotas: “Diversity & Inclusion Goals: Increase the percentage of women in director and above roles globally to 50% by 2025. Expand ethnically and racially diverse employee representation in the U.S. to 25% by 2025. Include a 50% diverse slate of candidates for all open U.S. positions where there is underrepresentation.”
Diversity hiring quotas like these might appear to run afoul of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on employment discrimination on the basis of race or sex: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer… to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or … to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
However, thanks to the 1979 ruling by the Supreme Court ruling Steelworkers v. Weber which ruled that employment policies that racial preferences on the basis of race and sex in favor of women and minorities, which plaintiffs argued was reverse discrimination, were not a violation of the Civil Rights Act, in effect legalizing employment discrimination against whites and males. This was a sharp departure from more racially neutral interpretations of the Civil Rights Act by federal courts that preceded the decision.
Then Associate Justice William Rehnquist, who would go on to become the Court’s 16th Chief Justice in 1986, in his dissenting opinion, compared the Court’s rewriting of the Civil Rights Act to the totalitarian regime portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984, writing that law was written plainly, “Taken in its normal meaning, and as understood by all Members of Congress who spoke to the issue during the legislative debates, this language prohibits a covered employer from considering race when making an employment decision, whether the race be black or white.”
Rehnquist blasted the majority of the court, adding, “the Court behaves much like the Orwellian speaker earlier described, as if it had been handed a note indicating that Title VII would lead to a result unacceptable to the Court if interpreted here as it was in our prior decisions. … Now we are told that the legislative history of Title VII shows that employers are free to discriminate on the basis of race: an employer may, in the Court’s words, ‘trammel the interests of the white employees’ in favor of black employees in order to eliminate ‘racial imbalance.’… Our earlier interpretations of Title VII, like the banners and posters decorating the square in Oceania, were all wrong.”
And yet, corporate America’s racial and gender diversity preferences in favor of women and minorities, including at America’s biggest entertainment companies absolutely “discriminate[s] … because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
From a personnel point of view, when big mergers happen alongside the institution of Diversity & Inclusion policies, while, male, conservative Republicans are purged if they dare speak up.
Or maybe the work just dries up.
Here’s the interesting twist. The majority of the current Supreme Court are all considered acolytes of Rehnquist. All were regarded as constitutionalists, originalists and textualists when they were nominated by conservative presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, the latter of whom just secured an historic 6 to 3 majority on the nation’s highest court with Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Today, the question of reverse discrimination posed by ESG’s Diversity & Inclusion corporate policies might be decided differently by today’s Supreme Court more than 40 years later. It would be up to those fired or cancelled to make the case they were discriminated against on the basis of race and/or sex.
Or perhaps, after the 2022 midterms, a Republican Congress in 2023 could defund the Labor Department’s regulations that allow ESG retirement investments in 401(k)s, and seek to curb the federal Thrift Savings Plan weighted investments in ESG companies — putting downward pressure on prices.
The fact is, the culture war Comicsgate fights every day is much bigger than just the comic book or even movie and television industries. Nationwide, Republicans and conservatives are either opting out of or being purged from many of the nation’s most influential professions.
A 2016 survey by Education Week found that only 27 percent of teachers were Republicans versus 41 percent Democrat and 30 percent independents. In higher education, the advantage is more like 10 to 1. Republicans often talk about school choice, but how many schools did they build? Private school enrollment hasn’t budged in more than 20 years. Meanwhile, public school enrollment continues to grow in line with population to more than 50.7 million.
In civil service positions, the Democrats’ advantage is 2 to 1. Democrats have a 3 to 1 advantage in publishing and information technology and 4 to 1 in media production.
It’s a bid for one party rule. To have any hope of competing, Republicans have to teach their children to take back the nation’s institutions. It’s their country, too.
In 2009, I had the privilege of attending a speech by Andrew Breitbart before he passed away in 2012, where he was warning conservatives they needed to take back pop culture and to join the nation’s institutions. Stop opting out. At that event, Breitbart said, “[T]he only way we’re ever going to be able to sell the idea is if we learn that the media is the message… We have like a ten to twenty year battle on our hands… Over 40 years of that dominance and the conservative movement following Paul Weyrich’s, ‘we lost the culture war… let’s not fight it, let’s not engage in it,’ that’s why we’re in deep peril. It’s not because of our political point of view. It’s not because we don’t have the right ideas… It’s because we don’t play that game.”
Breitbart added, “It’s the pop culture, or it’s nothing.”
I think Breitbart would have loved Comicsgate, which stands out as almost a sole voice of dissent in the entertainment industry by fans and creators who want an alternative to Orwellian, woke corporate messages. Comicsgate is a part of the rebellion against woke corporatism Breitbart was urging. And I’m excited to be a part of it.
If corporate America is going to be hopelessly political and left-wing, then it will be up to small businesses like Comicsgate creators — and in other industries whether movie, music, arts, games, etc. — to provide new alternatives. To become the brands of tomorrow. Politically, there are policies that could be implemented to take on the ESG Leviathan, but until then, ultimately the shift in culture will happen at the tips of your pens and brushes.