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. I see the update, after Wolfers contacted Turley concerning this post.

    All I see is the Professor…..A PROFESSOR at a University….was called out on his wild hyperbole. Caught in his own words, he moved the goal posts, to Govt threatening businesses. I’m guessing, taking a shot at DeSantis. All he did is suggest Disney not get any special treatment….and the Legislature agreed, and wondered why it took them so long.

    The good Prof. Wolfers, shows he is not a big fan of democracy in action.

    1. Sounds like you didn’t watch the interview

      How do you know, then, what his “own words” are?

      Did you ever learn about using primary sources for research in grade school?

  2. America’s Chief Executive, the Big Guy, a laughing stock, on the global stage.
    Impeach and remove Joe Biden now!

    Joe Biden takes hard fall at Air Force Academy commencement ceremony drawing gasps from the crowd as onlookers rushed to help the commander-in-chief to his feet.
    – NY Post

  3. Maybe a better strategy is to make it non-partisan by design.

    For example: the film “Saving Capitalism” stars both Conservative Republican Dave Brat and Clinton’s former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. The film is about one of America’s greatest issues but by including both parties, they removed the politics. Critics can’t claim it’s liberal or conservative.

  4. Where and when did all the nonsense of the leftist’s start? The 50’s and the Beatnik’s movement, the 60’s and the Nippie’s, and their counterculture, the 70’s streakers or the pet rock, the 80’s and car surfing, the 90’s and Fanny Packs, 2000’s and the iPods, the 10’s and the Ice Bucket, or the 20’s when insanity finally arrived. My Father used to tell me when I acted foolish or like a dolt “Boy, screw you’re head on straight, because a screwed-up head will land you in the poor house.”

    There is theory in Biology called ‘Lamarckism’, which could be used today for the nincompoops of the left, where acquired characteristics are repeated and handed down to the offspring. The fools have taken the microphone and changed the tune, painting Socialism and all its derivatives as their gospel to nirvana.

    Arrogates thinking their notions are the path forward must be shown the door, their odor is putrid.

    1. In common usage, threats, unaccompanied by violence, do not constitute “terrorism”. “Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of intentional violence and fear to achieve political or ideological aims.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism The “Reign of Terror” in France involved the execution of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people. The Great Terror of the Soviet Union in the 1930’s involved the execution or starvation of millions of people. The “terror” bombing of Tokyo caused the deaths of 100,000 civilians. The “Terror” attacks of 9/11 caused the deaths of 3000 civilians. Verbal threats do not “literally” constitute terror.

      1. Do you disagree with our military’s definition of terrorism?

        The US Army disagrees with you. https://www.inscom.army.mil/isalute/incidentType.aspx
        The US Marines disagrees with you: https://www.29palms.marines.mil/mcmwtc/Staff-Offices/Installations-Support/Antiterrorism-Force-Protection/

        Both: “The calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”

        Also, every state has a criminal offense for “terroristic threats.” Look it up in your own state.

        1. Anonymous – I followed your suggestion and researched Michigan law. Here is our statute:
          Sec. 543m.
          (1) A person is guilty of making a terrorist threat or of making a false report of terrorism if the person does either of the following:
          (a) Threatens to commit an act of terrorism and communicates the threat to any other person.
          . . . .
          So it is not sufficient to make a threat, even a threat of violence; rather, a threat of “terrorism” is required. That term implies an act of deadly, usually unexpected, violence against a large group of people, as noted in my examples, which are drawn from actual historical usage, not from an army manual.

          1. I have no idea what”actual historical usage” but it certainly doesn’t accord with our nation’s historical usage of the term.


            Our government classifies destruction of property as terrorism when it is done to coerce a group of people in furtherance of political or social objectives. As examples, Defendants have been prosecuted on the left for environmental extremism (i.e., vandalizing SUVs) and on the right for attacks on abortion clinics. Both involved intimidation for political ends through the destruction of property, which is domestic terrorism.

            If members of the Earth Liberation Front attacked and vandalized all SUVs in Michigan to scare Michiganders into buying electric, would that constitute domestic terrorism?

            And further if they took out ads all over the state on billboards warning Michiganders that they will pipe bomb gas guzzlers, would that not constitute terroristic threats under Michigan law?

            1. Anonymous – You don’t know what “actual historical usage” means? How about “the French Reign of Terror”, a well known phrase describing a real event, used by historians for several centuries. It is actual, historical and common usage. The instances I cited are other actual usages of the term “terror” to describe horrific events. You then say that destructon on property can be “domestic terror”. No it’s not, if the term terror is used properly. All you are really saying is that irresponsible people, esp left-wing academics and journalists, engage in hyperbole. As to your questions as to SUVs (I don’t understand why leftisits hate SUVs), your scenario of billboard threats would not be “terrorism” unless violence against persons was used. “Terror” involves creating a fear of sudden death in a civilian population. If churches were bombed with accompanying fatalities, then that probably would qualify. If a billboard is put up saying “Someone is going to bomb this church”, I would say that terrorism is not a proper term. “Terror” loses it special historical meaning when it is stretched to situations not involving the well-founded fear of sudden and violent death. War is not terror. The Cold War was not terror. Crime in our cities is not terror. BLM riots were not terror. But, the Stalin purges were terror. The starvation of Ukranian peasants was terror. The Holocaust was terror. Tthe carpet bombing of Japanese cities was terror. Let’s reserve the word “terror” for similar horrific situations.

              1. I’m not sure I understand your point. What legal definition of terrorism are you using?

                If you clicked on the link, the examples I cited are “actual usages” of the term by the FBI.

                Destruction of property can absolutely be terrorism. Even if no one was harmed on 9/11, taking down the Twin Towers would have been terrorism, right? Same deal with the Unibomber, etc.

                1. You can call terrorism whatever you wish, for an unstable mind can create terrorism where non exists.

                  Add hypocrisy to the equation, and you have ATS. Anything he wishes to argue against is terrorism, yet anything he favors, whether bombing or arson, is a peaceful demonstration.

        2. Also, every state has a criminal offense for “terroristic threats.”

          Not shopping at Target does not trigger such a law.

          1. Did you watch the video? Did you read Targets press release? They are threatening violence, not choosing WalMart instead of Target.

            Do you not recognize the difference?

  5. Professor Turley,

    You article completely misconstrues Wolfers’ position. The crucial issue here is what he meant by “this” in the quote you provided. He points out that Target’s CEO says “the reason [Target was] backing off was because they were worried about the safety of their employees.” He then talks through two scenarios for why Target may be caving, either they are “cowards and using this as smokescreen, or they are genuinely concerned about the “wellbeing” of their employees.

    He then says your quote.

    Therefore, it is absolutely clear he is not talking about “boycotts;” rather, he is talking about the threat of violence Target has stated it was concerned about.

    What would you call threats of physical violence by a mob of folks, who are upset about a retail company’s products? That would absolutely be economic terrorism.

    So, no, he doesn’t consider “aspects of this boycott to be ‘literal terrorism.” He considers the violent threats who Target has claimed are made by the same boycotters to be literal terrorism. That is a HUGE difference.

    When he called you out for this, you should have taken down the post, rather than this half-hearted attempt at an “update.”

    But, because 95% of readers on this blog no doubt failed to watch the video, they will blather on about “leftists in academia” because your erroneous article will yet again throw kerosene on the fire that is the “age of rage.”

    If you truly care about the “age of rage,” maybe, just maybe, you should look in the mirror.

  6. I have to admit that for a long time I held Professors in high esteem. Now I have come to realize that seventy five percent of the Professors at Harvard think in exactly the same way as this guy. My uninformed previous evaluation is no longer valid. I hold this truth to be self evident that Professors like this are training your children not how to think but what to think. If your a Professor out there who is in this category I suggest that you consider the course of history that is evident when such thinking is put into practice. How many more millions will die when your demand for authoritarianism comes to fruition. The blood will be on your hands and history will judge harshly. You make the world a place of greater sadness.

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

    – Professor Turley

    This is not a professor, this is a slavering, bolshevik zealot who is intent on “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

    This is a direct and mortal enemy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, actual Americans, and the United States of America.

    This is a communist revolutionary who is determined to abrogate the Constitution and who is engaged “in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

    This is a traitor committing treason.

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

    And this guy is an economics professor?? This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen.

    1. The Supreme Court must strike down all communist and unconstitutional acts by the executive and legislative branches.

      – Central Planning

      – Control of the Means of Production (i.e. unconstitutional regulation, see Article 1, Section 8)

      Judicial Review in the United States

      The legitimacy of judicial review and the judge’s approach to judicial review are discussed.

      The doctrine of judicial review holds that the courts are vested with the authority to determine the legitimacy of the acts of the executive and the legislative branches of government.

      – U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

  9. “When the left burned American flags, they told you it was free speech. When someone burns their religious rainbow flag, they say it’s a violent hate crime. See how this works?” @seanmdav

        1. “Do you think violent threats against employees are free speech?”

          – Anniny

          Legislation that denies the 1st Amendment freedom of speech to any American is unconstitutional.

          Accurately and consistently predicting the future is impossible.

          Police arrest individuals who have committed crimes.

          Police may not arrest an individual for a crime before a crime has been committed – in the absence of a crime, probable cause does not exist.

        2. Target never claimed there were threats, until after they needed an excuse. Target fully supported the summer of love, while Black lives matter, and antifa burned, and looted, and assaulted,and murdered their way across America. Target should expect that others would use the exact same tactics, Target supports.

          1. If you watched the video, you would understand that this is IRRELEVANT.

            He notes 2 possibilities, including that this may be an easy out for Target. He then qualifies his statement by saying that if that is NOT the case, and there genuinely were threats, then…. (Insert quote pulled by Turley).

            So essentially all this proves is you didn’t watch the interview

            1. So essentially all this proves is you didn’t watch the interview

              This post is not about a msnbc panel of apologist, after the fact, trying ot prop up a Professor being called out for using hyperbole. The Vice President of the United States supports through personal donations to actual terrorist, rioting, loosing, assaulting and murdering, an assault on people, destroying property. The Vice President stated the crimes must continue. The left plans and executes these real actions of terrorism. not some form of wishcasting.

              No. This Professor is called out for his stupid use of the language. No amount of doublespeak addresses the issue.

              1. This is unintelligible.

                Was there a follow up interview on MSNBC? Otherwise, how could they prop him up after the fact for his use of hyperbole?

  10. Boycotts? I remember when the {regressive!!} left went up in arms to shun Wal-Mart, and then most recently compared Wal-Mart shoppers negatively, talk about fools and hypocrites. I say to anyone who voted for, or is going to vote for ANY Democrat, hide your wallet and protect your kids from the Demonic Mule roaming about, spewing hatred and division. The left and their myopic view of society give us a view of the dangers they pose to a sane future.

    PS: how many boycotts has the left instigated, just asking?

  11. And in other “terrorism” related news: Parent files suit after teen daughter ‘severely beaten’ by trans student in Oklahoma
    “The document, which was obtained by The Post, notes that the accused attacker was assigned male at birth, and was using the women’s bathroom despite a state law signed in May 2022 that requires public school students to use restrooms matching the sex on their birth certificates.

    Trans students who decline to follow the policy must use “a single-occupancy restroom or changing room.’”


  12. Would that professor go into a store with a display of Trump MAGA hats and shirts? Would he be committing terrorism if he didn’t? Who pays to get “educated” by someone as detached from reality as this fool?

      1. “It isn’t your fault because Professor Turley misconstrued both Target and Wolfers.”

        Turley quoted Wolfers accurately, then Wolfers moved the goal posts. Wolfers is a college professor, communication should be his strong suit. He knew exactly what he wanted. An emotional, not logical response.
        Because the left feels instead of think.

        1. A quote taken out of context is not an accurate quote.

          Wolfers did not “move the goal posts.” He never referred to boycotts in any way as “economic terrorism.” You clearly did not understand the interview. But, its ok, a tenured law professor seems to have trouble, as well (or at least whoever writes these terrible articles under his pen name).

          Context is important. If I say, “This team will win the Super Bowl,” during a discussion about the KC Chiefs, that would not be a surprising statement. If Professor Turley took my exact sentence, “This team will win the Super Bowl,” and trashed me for thinking the Houston Texans have a shot, would you claim, “Turley quoted [me] accurately?”

          Of course, you wouldn’t think that was a fair way to quote me for that sentence. That is precisely what Turley did here.

          I am trying to break this down in apolitical terms, so that you don’t have to think in terms of red and blue teams (KC and Houston notwithstanding).

  13. Is it surprising that students graduate with heads full of mush when their professors have heads full of mush? As long as people like Justin Wolfers infest universities it will be ever thus. Parents should be very discerning about where they send their kids to be educated. The exact opposite happens in many cases and, no, you don’t get your money back when the kid becomes a woke sock puppet with a pin cushion face and Kodachrome hair. Save your money and the grief that goes with education fraud, send them to trade school. They will have better lives staying out of the cesspool of “higher” education.

  14. If Ukrainians have ownership of the Storm Shadow missiles that are given to them by Britain (to dispose of how they see fit), then UKRAINIAN missiles would be striking Russia, not British missiles.

    1. Mexican TV Spots Cartel Wielding Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher In Border Town Near Texas
      “After further review, the rocket launcher might be an AT-4, a Swedish-made disposable anti-tank launcher, which was also sent to Ukraine with Javelins. Nevertheless, these military-grade weapons are turning up in Mexican border towns during the worst US southern border crisis in history. ”
      I have trained with a AT-4. I would agree based off the picture.
      And that appears to be a AK47, but could be a AK74.
      If used against US Border Patrol, would that be a UKRAINIAN anti-tank launcher?

  15. Today it’s “boycotting target is terrorism”
    Tomorrow it’s “failing to buy from target lowers your social credit score, citizen”.

      1. “[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

        1. My statement stands. What is “this” in the quote referring to? Did you watch the video?

          If you did, it would be abundantly clear, “this” does not mean boycotting. “This” refers to the threats of violence, as expressed by Target’s CEO.

          For example, if an individual walks into a Target, and at gunpoint were to force employees to burn pride T-Shirts, would you consider that a “boycott”? Absolutely not.

          That is completely different from boycotting Heinz by buying Hunt’s ketchup. Jonathan Turley has failed to recognize that difference, and as a result, the readers of this blog are now entirely misinformed.

      2. Did you watch the video?

        This is about the statement of Wolfers.
        We are into the Trump era 6 years now. Taking everything he says literally and not seriously. Those are the lefts rules. Now. Stop whining and man up.

        1. What? Do you think that context is not necessary for “literal” interpretation of words?

          Dude, how can you interpret a quote’s use of a word like “this” without knowing the subject of the previous sentences?

          That sort of essential to understanding the English language.

          That’s not the same as saying “Mexicans will pay for the wall” and later trying to make it sound like hyperbole.

          You get that right?

  16. Same old games 1000’s of years old being played again on the masses to hide the would be rulers screwed up system collapse.



    7:08 min, 1st 2 min are the forward

    Aldous Huxley ~ Slavery by consent. You’re being made to enjoy your servitude



    Aldous Huxley and Brave New World: The Dark Side of Pleasure
    Academy of Ideas
    1.46M subscribers



    11 hours ago

    It’s a damn good thing our government is as incompetent as it is oppressive.
    11 hours ago

    You got that right.
    9 hours ago

    Most people are compliant sheep who would abdicate their God given natural rights for a free bowl of soup and a hug.
    4 hours ago

    “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

    -Aldous Huxley
    3 hours ago

    Terrorism – noun – 2 “A system of government that seeks to rule by intimidation.” Funk and Wagnal’s New Practical Standard Dictionary, 1946.

    Escape the system:

    1st step: Do not be intimidated, you have authority over them not the other way around, and stop enabling your servitude. Learn who you really are.

    2nd step: Kill your cellphone – you don’t need it, and it’s their best weapon against you.

    3rd step: Stop using anything wifi or smart – hardwire everything, buy older/used (appliances/cars/laptops etc) to become new again.

    4th step: Get TF out of cities. Downgrade, you don’t need all that stuff so sell it and move rural where there is wood, water, and wildlife (and plenty of jobs). Get out of debt, use savings/assets/investments if you must, use cash.

    5th step: Stock up on food/seed, supplies, esp. protection, and stop taking all those pharms and seeing drs. for every little ache. Decline yearly checkups. Eat whole foods. Natural remedies are abundant.

    We should all be in survival mode to detach from and AVOID the beast system. Ask for help to do this if you need it, it’s out here.

    Continue your lives as they are, and perish by your own hand.
    2 hours ago

    move rural where there is wood, water, and wildlife (and plenty of jobs

    That seems to be the hardest thing to find. They normally don’t go hand in hand.

    From Zerohedge *** /political/dont-bow-down-dictatorial-government-america-prison-disguised-paradise

  17. when progressive clowns prevent an idea or thought from being printed or spoken, they are fighting disinformation
    when elected or appointed by elected officials (DEMOCRACY!!!) republican school committees prevent a library from carrying a book they find objectional, they are “banning” books that parents, if they want, can buy on Amazon.

    we will ignore the fact the no library carries every book, therefor all libraries “ban” books

    if progressive clowns boycott a store/business, they are noble activists fighting for DEMOCRACY!!!!
    if republicans boycott a store/business, they terrorists

    this pattern repeats ad infinitum

    progressive clowns, no matter their academic credentials, are still clowns

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