Michigan Economics Professor: Boycotting Target is “Literal Terrorism” [Updated]

In New York, a pro-life display was declared by a professor to be an act of “violence.” In Colorado, a university site warned that misgendering is violence. It is part of a national pattern on campuses where opposing views are declared “harmful” or “violent” as a justification for censorship or even violence. Now, University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers has declared some of those boycotting the store Target over its line of LGBTQ+ “Pride” clothing are guilty of “literal terrorism.”

Target is the latest example of a corporation that is being “Bud Lighted” over its link to LGBTQ+ efforts. While experts on MSNBC and CNN assured viewers that these boycotts fade quickly, these companies have now lost billions. Target has reportedly lost over $10 billion. Miller Lite is also being hammered over its “Bad $#!T to Good $#!T,” ad slamming male-oriented beer campaigns.

With these boycotts picking up steam, the coverage has turned from dismissive to alarmist.

Wolfers told MSNBC:

“[If] Target caves into this, then it says that the moment you threaten the employees of even a very large corporation, you get to control its policies. This is economic terrorism, literally terrorism, creating fear among the workers and forcing the corporations to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don’t.”

Wolfers did not object to past boycotts of companies like Twitter after Elon Musk sought to dismantle its censorship bureaucracy. He did not object to boycotts of Republican states over their laws concerning abortion, election integrity, or gender transitioning.

In fairness to Professor Wolfers, he acknowledges in the interview that “we do have groups all the time that protest by boycotting, and that’s their democratic right to do so.” However, he still considers aspects of this boycott to be “literal terrorism.”

Most notably, Wolfers was one of the figures leading the mob against UChicago economist Harald Uhlig, who was discussed earlier.  I quoted Wolfers as one of those seeking the removal of Uhlig from a leading economics journal because he criticized Black Lives Matter and the movement to Defund The Police.

Yet, Wolfers now claims that some boycotts can amount to “literal terrorism” and objects that they are “forcing the corporations to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don’t.”

Boycotts have long been an important form of political speech extending back to the colonial protests against the British stamp and tea taxes. Indeed, the left has targeted advertisers and boycotted companies to pressure corporate officials to change their policies. Twitter was targeted when Elon Musk sought to dismantle the company’s massive censorship operation. Now, however, boycotts are acts of terrorism when used against some of those policies.

The problem is that the media and these commentators cannot force customers to buy beer or other products. Consumers have found a way to express their views through the invisible hand of the markets. These advertising and public campaigns were designed to closely associate the brands with particular causes. That association has triggered a market response, including consumers and shareholders who object to campaigns that seem more political than commercial.

Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, pledged to drop Bud Light’s “fratty reputation and embrace inclusivity.” She certainly succeeded in changing the entire view of the brand in less than a year on the job. Heinerscheid knew that the brand image sells the beer. That image is now unpalatable for some consumers. The social value of these campaigns is lost if consumers reject beer with the branding message.

Even Adam Schiff creating his own public endorsement of Bud Lite appeared to backfire. It is not clear that Anheser Busch was eager to have one of its labels pegged as the beer of choice by Adam Schiff as more than Dylan Mulvaney. Indeed, the company now appears to be in a death spiral. After it tried to distance itself from the Mulvaney controversy, it was then boycotted by liberal groups for not staying the course with its earlier campaign. Those boycotts, however, are not being denounced as terrorism by Wolfers.

Update: Professor Wolfers contacted me after this posting to explain that he was only referring to the intimidation of Target workers as terrorism and that he supported boycotts as political speech. He insists that “it’s the (possibility) of threats of violence that I describe as terrorism (ie the use of terror), not the boycott.” He added:

“It’s false to say (as you do) that “Wolfers now claims that boycotts are “literal terrorism” because they are “forcing the corporations to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don’t.””. I distinguish between consumers boycotting, and folks like DeSantis who use the machinery of the state to bully corporations, as the latter concerns me more. (This used to be a standard conservative position.)”

I have tweaked that line and added an additional quote in light of Wolfers objections.

You can see the full interview here.

129 thoughts on “Michigan Economics Professor: Boycotting Target is “Literal Terrorism” [Updated]”

  1. Those who rise to the top within the Left are invariably the purest of the breed. When the game approaches being up, it is the same who appear the most revealed and … the most foolish. We should be heartened at the increasing number of such instances that are occurring, for they are a sure sign that what we have come to describe as wokeness is reaching or has reached an apex. Rejoice! It is all downhill for them from here on, to be displaced by the eternal verities.

  2. Once again the Truism of “Go Woke…..Go Broke!” proves itself to be just that…..one of Life’s truths.

    Otherwise the Left wold not be all up in arms about customers picking and choosing what and where they buy!

    Plainly consumers are not “buying” what the Left is selling….Wokism, Equity, Gender identity politics, etc

    That is what has the Left’s Knickers in a knot.

  3. The greatest power of the media is to make people believe that a vey small minority is much bigger than it really is. This narrative is now collapsing as the silent majority has finally found a way to make its voice heard.

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  5. So let me get this straight, a boycott is terrorism now? It must be working. Not a problem when one section used it or threatened to use it against another. However, the blade cuts both ways and the very weapon is being used against their interests. What I believe is really going is that those that have wielded this method is now realizing the other side has now discovered it. Now what happens when the companies are now stuck in the middle with no good way through?

    Regardless where one falls on the spectrum of politics or social beliefs, this is a good turn of events. Society for better or worse looks like it finally hit its breaking point and is now starting the backlash long due. Now the one side will feel the lash the other side has felt up to now. Companies are going to have to make a decision on how to move forward and I am betting they protect their pocketbooks.

    As for the boycotts, it works and now both sides can use or threaten to use it. As the old saw goes “The sauce good for the goose is good for the gander”. This should be fun to watch.

    BTW, I am noticing a deafening silence on the terrorism charge for the boycott.

  6. “… Those boycotts, however, are not being denounced as terrorism…” The “not” should be “now”, JT.

  7. JT quotes “threaten the employees” but ignores that employees were threatened. He wasn’t talking about boycotts as violence. He was talking about threats of violence.

    1. The above person is unable to read or think. He believes a creation of fact by the left is a fact and then quotes it. It doesn’t take much intelligence to make things up.

      1. Mespo,
        From the article,
        “But if you want someone to threaten retail stores with violence, you’re looking in the wrong place. Conservatives prefer to fight with their wallets.”
        Woke leftists resort to threatening violence.
        Thank you for bringing facts to the table.

  8. “. . . corporations to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don’t.”

    I thought that was the whole point of: Vote with your wallet.

    Or is consumer choice now the same thing as toppling towers, if those consumers are the unwashed masses?

  9. Be kind now. Nobody ever said that a “professor” must be objective, fair, balanced and in search of the truth. And Professor Justin Wolfers proves that point.

  10. How is it possible for a supporter of boycotts to go on the air and say that this particular boycott is “literal” terrorism? What level of “journalism” have we sunk to that the pushback is non-existent?

    The professor doesn’t seem to know what literal means, doesn’t seem to grasp hypocrisy and doesn’t seem to want to try to understand how other people feel about issues.

    How would this guy feel if the tellers at B of A all started wearing pro-life shirts behind their windows? Think he might want to boycott the bank? How about a store that has a staff all wearing MAGA hats?

    Hypocrisy is maddening, bad journalism is sickening and stupidity will be our ruin.

  11. Remember Jim Jones…koolaid murders was a friend of Harvey Milk and part of the Democrat run San Francisco power brokers!

  12. Democrats are following standard Fascist methods….classify your society…white, black, gay, christian, etc…Republicans just see Americans….democrats see HATRED. They will TAKE away your defenses…and it is going to get WORSE…a LOT worse. The DOJ, IRS, FBI, etc are now 100% corrupt for Democrats.

    Next up…concentration camps

      1. PudnHead,
        Why not?
        There were some leftist professors calling for those big, bad, threat to all of humanity anti-vaxxers to have their children taken away from them.
        And here we are now.

  13. He is another classic case of how Marxist thugs have taken over the American Academy. Although he has a PhD from Harvard but he might as well have earned his degree from N Korea given his views on liberty and freedom of speech

    1. The relatively low pay & non-glory of professors – who have given of themselves 4 years of college, 6 years of grad schools, several years of post-doc in some fields, very crappy $10/hour type jobs in adjunct positions for most, 7 years toward tenured professorship if they’re lucky, then finally, at least, Tenured Professor for $70K or less – leads to a person who is a) heavily invested in the system in a sunk-cost way and b) very bitter and insecure at being invisible (many papers are never read, their ‘enlightened’ brilliant thoughts are read nowhere), & paid less than their plumber and electrician. They therefore tell themselves they are Brilliant & Important, far more wise than mere plumbers or doctors, the true Philosopher Kings. They teach students as a king teaches its subjects. It feels good.

      1. I think you are a little off on what professors earn today. My younger brother is a professor of evolutionary biology and he earns in excess of $190,000 a year, plus he always getting grant money for research which he can use half of it for himself. He teaches one introductory class on physiology to 1st year students a quarter and does research the rest of the time

        This doesn’t include the fact that his housing is subsidized, he pays for the structure, which was valued under market, but not the land it sits on, with a guaranteed buy back at FMV if he moves to another school. When he retires he and his wife can continue to live in it. If he predeceases his wife she can continue to live in it, and when she dies they buy the house back at FMV. Plus he’s in a very good retirement system.

  14. Sure, go ahead, don’t “sell the things we want,” just try to “sell the things we don’t want” — great marketing strategy. And how many of the leftists complaining about “boycott terrorism” are in full support of the pro-Palestinian BDS boycott of Israel? Here’s a suggestion: lock up all leftists in one large room and force them to listen to one another. Then see how many emerge with all their marbles intact.

  15. My response to this totally koolaid addicted and questionably ethically challenged tool of the prog/left is that having drag queens anywhere near children is terrorism of an entirely higher level and pushback is way over due to the entire mad woke world.

    1. To be fair I think this dumb dumb was talking about threats of violence against Target employees, not simply the boycott. I saw an internal Target email going around saying the boycott was being accompanied with threats of violence, not actual violence like during the riots of the summer of love, but fabricated threats of violence used to tar your ideological enemies.

  16. Now, University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers has declared boycotting the store Target over its line of LGBTQ+ “Pride” clothing is “literal terrorism.”

    Which begs the question: why do once-prestigious institutions keep hiring professors with such low IQs.

      1. I don’t know if his problem is that he has a low IQ so much as it is that he’s an attention-seeking sniveling brat just looking for the easiest way to make a name for himself.

    1. Oldman, take a look at a picture of the professor and you can see how obvious/inevitable his reaction was going to be.

      1. @hullbobby

        That’s what I always do – look at the bio. His age says all I need to know, it’s the usual suspects. It’s terrible that the cliche is true about so many woke millennials, (bearing in mind that the oldest of that generation are now entering their 40s) but if the s*** fits, wear it. He got his ‘doctorate’ at a time when they may has well have been giving them out in cereal boxes. I wouldn’t expect intelligence or objectivity from his ilk, and modern academia is probably the only field he’s fit for. That is not a compliment.

        1. James,
          Just goes to show, you can have a ‘doctorate’ and still be an idiot.
          I would wager some of my livestock have more intelligence.

    2. “…forcing the corporations to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don’t.” Didn’t that used to be called “supply and demand”?

      Maybe he should take a class in economics.

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