Much like politicians, tech company CEOs are nowadays expected to take a position on the big social issues facing their country, and Apple boss Tim Cook has been the latest to join the fray with an email sent to all global employees of the company on Wednesday night, which was obtained by Recode. In the email, Cook provides a strong response to the violence on display in Charlottesville over the weekend, and he goes on to make an unequivocal call about who was in the wrong.
“I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights,” writes Cook. Like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Cook doesn’t explicitly address another issue that arose before Charlottesville — namely the memo that was circulated inside Google suggesting biological differences explain why there are more men than women in tech — but he seems to be talking about it in the same breath as he denounced the Nazis of Charlottesville. He underscores equal treatment of all people as fundamental to his own morality and that of Apple, which is expressed through its products and actions.
Apple will make $2 million of donations to civil rights groups working to fight white supremacism such as that on display in Charlottesville, and it will furthermore match employee donations to similar causes on a two-for-one basis. There will soon also be an option added to iTunes for Apple users to contribute to supporting one of Apple’s chosen organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center. In an apparently related move, Apple Pay has ceased accepting payments on websites selling white supremacist and Nazi gear.
The email in full: Team, Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and I’ve heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused. What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world. We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality. I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans. Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect. I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products. In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees’ donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30. In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change. Best, Tim