United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz was asked about why his airline suspended National Rifle Association (NRA) discounts after the Parkland, Florida high school shooting massacre. His response was surprising.
During a Q&A time, a man in the audience asked Munoz why United cut ties to the NRA, adding:
I suppose you are ignoring the fact that the NRA had nothing to do with what happened in Parkland and that the perpetrator had zero affiliation with the NRA. But, hey, congratulations on your virtue signaling. What exactly did investors get out of that? The company is willfully giving up money. That’s an odd choice for an airline company in a hyper-competitive industry.
Munoz did not like the question, quickly answering:
Sir, it wasn’t political. It was personal with regard to my family at United. That’s why we made the decision. We aren’t here to make political conversation or strike political debate. We’re here to serve customers.
First, I understand why Munoz would say it was a “personal” decision regarding his “family” at United. Gina Rose Montalto, the daughter of a United Airlines captain, was one of the victims of the Florida school shooting. Munoz has always used familial language to speak about his employees and it is therefore understandable that he would call the decision personal.
But personal and political are not mutually exclusive. There is no way this is anything BUT a political decision. I made the same argument with Delta and will do so again here. In altering the status quo, United took a position. For those on the pro-gun side of the debate, I understand why United’s decision appeared to be a slap in the face.
It should be noted that the question was asked by Justin Danhof, an attorney who seems to make a living visiting various shareholder meetings and calling out CEOs and other business leaders on right-leaning political matters. Clearly taking Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to heart, Danhof is a professional rabble-rouser who asked that question to stoke passions on both sides. It’s not clear whether Danhof even owns any United stock.
I’m not taking the bait, though I cannot help but to point out that this issue remains a critical source of division in American culture. Yes, I know the sun also rose in the east this morning…
I’m sure Munoz would have had a better answer had he been better prepared. It is impossible to please both sides in this debate and I would hope that a company would stand by the courage of its convictions rather than try to somehow dismiss the issue as apolitical.
What do you think of Munoz’s answer?