From PayPal to Tiki torches, Airbnb to GoDaddy, American companies are either severing ties with or distancing themselves from white supremacist organizations, especially after the hateful events of Charlottesville, Va., where 32-year-old Heather Heyer lost her life.
Whether they are doing this out of altruism or because they don’t want the bad publicity and/or a boycott (remember how many of us dumped Uber when former CEO Travis Kalanick cozied up to Trump on his economic advisory council?) is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that there is now a strategy for strangling white supremacists and their organizations that goes beyond marching.
On Wednesday, online civil rights group Color of Change launched a website, Blood Money, that targets major credit card companies such as Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express, as well as PayPal and Apple Pay, for processing funds for hate groups and white supremacist organizations.
Color of Change notes that said companies receive a portion of money donated to these racist organizations, and that across 2014 and 2015, fewer than 20 of the most prominent hate groups collected over $20 million in contributions, sales and grants, from which credit card companies receive between 1.4 and 3.5 percent of the funds.
Because this amount is negligible to these multibillion dollar companies, Color of Change argues that there is no good reason to accept what it terms “blood money.”
“Without the financial services provided by companies like Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, the terrorism and violence we saw in Charlottesville would not have happened,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, in a statement. He explained:
White supremacists need money to pay for events like “Unite the Right” and to maintain propaganda websites likes the ones that inspired terrorists Dylann Roof and Timothy McVeigh. For months, we’ve been urging these companies to do the right thing and stop providing financial services for white supremacist groups. But, so far, they are making a conscious choice to let their products provide the financial fuel that makes white supremacist terrorism possible. They are making hundreds of thousands of dollars from processing fees for these racist groups and quite literally profiting off hate and murder.
On the Blood Money website, Color of Change lists the more than 100 hate groups for which these payment-processing companies provide financial services. Some, like PayPal, have already dropped white supremacist websites like those of Jason Kessler, who organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
“We’ve been working directly with PayPal for months to cut off a number of hate groups that they allowed for years to generate revenue using their platform,” said Robinson. “We appreciate the company’s willingness to take [a] stand against violent racist extremism after months of pressure, and we hope to push them further.”
Unfortunately, in America, morality has never moved mountains. Economic pressure, however, has.
Read more and sign the petition at BloodMoney.org.