Recently, San Francisco based travel website AirBnb banned conservative columnist and commentator Michelle Malkin’s family from using their service. Their reason? She gave a speech at American Renaissance Conference, which AirBnb identified as “a known hate group:”
“Due to your promotion and participation in a known white nationalist and white supremacist conference, we have determined that we will remove your account from Airbnb. This is consistent with action we’ve taken to ban people associated with this conference in past years.”
Refusing service to a customer based on their political affiliation or attendance of an event is the right a private business should not have. It is a denial of the freedom of association recognized by the courts as our fundamental right. However, big service providers banning people or groups based on random standards is becoming more and more commonplace. In another “random act of kindness,” the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach recently denied service to a conservative group, Freedom Center:
“After a 20-year relationship with The Breakers resort, the Freedom Center was apprised that we would no longer be sanctioned to have our annual Restoration Weekend event at the resort due to the Center being too controversial, DHFC President Michael Finch told The Epoch Times.”
Shockingly, this kind of “unwelcoming behavior” found favor with the most “inclusive” people in the world: the woke mob. The principle of “inclusion” must be heavily applied to everybody except people they don’t like. If a business denied service to one of the famous anti-Semites of American Congress, the law suits would be flying like the nonsense out of Kamala Harris’ mouth. But any company denying service to a conservative is being hailed as “protecting Democracy.”
This is also the first time the liberals stood up for the right of private businesses “to operate the way they want.” The liberals didn’t mind when the Biden administration tried to force private businesses to enforce their employees’ medical decisions, before the courts interfered. According to liberals, private businesses (and individuals) are free “to do what they want” as long as “what they want” is advancing the radical left agenda.
Regardless of how you feel about American Renaissance Conference (whatever it is,) a private business is not an authority that should be looking out for your moral compass. The company you keep is the matter best dealt with by your family, your friends, and your clergy. Your hairdresser, your local restaurant, or your hardware store are not in business to police your morality. Amazon, Facebook, and AirBnb should not have that right either – they are just so arrogant they haven’t figured it out yet.
Private businesses indeed have the right to refuse service to anyone. That rule is put in place to protect the interest of the business – not to for the business to protect the public from people with “unacceptable views.” If you come into a restaurant shirtless, or if you are at a bar screaming obscenities, that will cause the business to lose customers, and therefore, they have a full right to throw you out.
However, there is no indication that association with a particular group, or a political affiliation of their customers hurts any business. “Known hate groups” designated so by the mainstream media and left-wing loons are viewed favorably by a large segment of American population that resents cancel culture, so catering to any group would lose you as much profit as it would gain. The only reason the big service providers are banning American Renaissance Conference and not Antifa (a real hate group) is fear of organized boycotts by the woke mob – a tactic the conservative side does not practice.
What enables big service providers to exercise such control over our lives is how much we came to rely on their services in the age of technology. If a local restaurant refuses you service for an unjustified reason, you will take your business elsewhere, and likely take your friends and neighbors with you. But Amazon, AirBnb, Uber, and “brick-and-mortar” companies like a big retailer, or a bank, or an airline, do not have that concern. No matter how upset people are at their behavior, their services are so essential that boycotting them for violating our rights is not an option. These companies know it – and they are using the power they obtained by using American system to hurt our system.
The answer I propose is this: the Congress must classify these de facto monopolies as “essential businesses,” because this is what they really are, to most people today. That means treating them in a way you would treat any utility company. Your electric company can’t turn your electricity off because they didn’t like the gathering you attended. Companies like Amazon and AirBnb became utilities to most Americans, and these companies are taking full advantage of it. They shouldn’t be able to refuse you service for no legally justifiable reason.
This is not a stretch. Amazon became all but essential. People can live without it, but if you are pressed for time your life becomes severely impaired if you can’t buy things online. Same is true of other big service providers. If Home Depot turns you away, where do you go? Small hardware stores often don’t have the selection and prices Home Depot offers, because it is so powerful. So, these de facto monopolies, by denying you service, essentially relegate you to “a second-class citizen” status, the same way “the unvaccinated” were treated in some states during Covid.
Exerting pressure on people to make them behave in a certain way by denying them modern conveniences was the tactic the liberals cheered during Covid. Remember your friends saying: “Banning ‘the unvaccinated’ is not a violation of your rights. There is no right to go to a restaurant written anywhere in the constitution!” Guess what – if companies can use this rule to make people take a vaccine they don’t want, they can use it for anything. The only constitutionally protected right liberals recognize is a right to an abortion.
We can’t let America become a caste system society where the castes are defined by big service providers. Essential businesses of today, such as Amazon, AirBnb, DoorDash, Uber and Lyft, and big retailers like Target and Home Depot, banks, and airlines, must not be allowed to dictate your personal behavior. These essential businesses must be subjected to stringent anti-discrimination laws. They must not be allowed to refuse service to a customer unless there is severe (and provable) harm to the business itself, or a national security threat.
The last one is important. As the Canadian truckers vs. GoFundMe affair teaches us, the government can direct, or influence, a private company to refuse business to a customer. That provision is important to keep, but not for the government to crack down on constitutionally protected speech. The provision must be there in case of a security threat. If there is a terror cell planning a deadly attack, we want our government to be able to direct a private company – say, a bank – to cooperate with law enforcement. If a company declines cooperation, the government must obtain a court order.
That provision would also enable private companies to engage in sanctioning villains of the world such as Vladimir Putin. Suspending Russian operations by big companies was essential to exert pressure on Russian citizens to influence their government, and possibly, a regime change. This serves US national security interest as well as saves lives of civilians in Ukraine. Right now, there is a pushback from many conservatives to such sanctions, because they see it as a precedent for the big service providers to exercise sanctions for political reasons. Making the national security provision as a requirement for refusing service would remove such concern.
No matter what your liberal friends say on Twitter, even though the big service providers such as Amazon and AirBnb are private businesses, they cannot be operating under the same umbrella of protections as your local hardware store. These companies have enormous power over our lives, and they gained that power by using American freedoms and American legal system that they are now undermining. They cannot be allowed to use that power to harm Americans because of politics, or because they don’t have the courage to stand up to the woke mob. Let’s hope that when the Republicans take the Congress in November, they address this issue, because our freedom depends on it.