Yes, it’s great fun watching Priti Patel losing whatever’s left of her sanity shouting at Ben & Jerry’s.
The ice cream manufacturer took a side in the debate over asylum-seekers taking to boats in attempts to get into the UK:
Hey @PritiPatel we think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture. We pulled together a thread for you..
— Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) August 11, 2020
And Patel ill-advisedly responded:
OOOF! Home Office source: “Priti is working day&night to bring an end to these small boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs&are of serious concern. If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food then so be it.” https://t.co/QIrfXOjZ5w
— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) August 11, 2020
It seems the company has a history of political activism, and recently made quite a hit by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
But a lot of political commentators should have done a bit of research before voicing wholehearted praise for the purveyors of ‘cookie dough’ ice cream (my personal favourite, although I have to try to source it from other makers now).
Steve Topple, of The Canary is the only journo (I’ve seen) who actually understood what’s going on:
I see everyone praising Ben & Jerry's or criticising them.
It's the same conundrum as the vegans who buy Alpro, the anti-capitalists who by Koko or the eco warriors who by Ecover. And it sums up the almighty mess we're in: when corporatists co-opt left wing politics for profit.
— Steve Topple (@MrTopple) August 11, 2020
That’s exactly what this is.
It is impossible for me to support Ben & Jerry’s making a stand in support of refugees because Ben & Jerry’s has a factory on a former Palestinian village of Qastina, that was destroyed by Israeli troops in 1948. When that land was stolen, it undoubtedly turned a lot of people into refugees. Yes, it was a long time ago but I hope nobody is stupid enough to try to make a point out of that.
Ben & Jerry’s also sells into illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land that has been occupied by the use of armed force, its rightful owners displaced.
It is unacceptable for a firm that is complicit in the creation of so many Palestinian refugees to claim the moral high ground over the issue of refugees coming to the UK – much though This Writer would wish the opposite to be the case when the other disputant is Ms Patel.
Still, we can always enjoy the fact that she’s #ShoutingAtIceCream – just for the absurdity of it:
#ShoutingAtIceCream needs to become a thing. https://t.co/cnCiuAuJfu pic.twitter.com/26no98kCEb
— CrémantCommunarde#ActivistLawyer ⚖️ 😷 ✋ (@0Calamity) August 11, 2020
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Ben & Jerry’s, is a wholly-owned autonomous subsidiary of Unilever.
And what’s the relevance of that? How does it affect this issue?
Are you being intentionally antagonistic for some reason?
The premise of your article above is that Ben & Jerry’s is not the social responsible entity it portrays itself to be. Don’t you agree that making people aware that it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever adds strength to your argument.
Of the two of us, Steve, I’m not the one being intentionally antagonistic, I think.
It might be of slight interest that B&J’s is owned by another corporation, but no – I don’t think it adds anything to the argument. We’re talking about an international company that is very large in its own right.
Here’s how it is… We have an ice cream manufacturer highlighting the refugee crisis, and a professional footballer highlighting child poverty…
…And what’s starmer done, again?
From The Canary:
“The political right on Twitter has weaponised Ben & Jerry’s ownership by corporate giant Unilever against the left. Yet, while the reason for amplifying this fact may be wrong, the principle is correct. Ben & Jerry’s slamming the UK government is little more than effective PR: latching onto one part of the public psyche in order to improve brand reputation.
This same, skewed position can be seen in ‘green’ cleaning product manufacturer Ecover – owned by SC Johnson, an environmentally and ethically dubious multinational. Or vegan cheese VioLife, owned by an investment firm that also invests in meat companies. And then there’s serial corporate capitalist offender Nestlé, now making vegan foods. This is part of the real story: multinational corporate capitalists co-opting ‘green’ and ‘ethical’ movements in a bid to bolster their profit margins in a rapidly-failing ecological, economic, and social system. Because some are ones which also profit from war.
Ben & Jerry’s tweeting about the plight of refugees in the channel is peak 2020 irony and cynicism. Because, ultimately, it has investment management firm BlackRock as one of its shareholders – a company which profits from the UK-enabled disaster capitalism and dictatorships which put those refugees in the channel in the first place.”
Some of those firms’ ownerships are mentioned in the article, although – as I mentioned to Steve H – I don’t think the identity of the owners is necessary to expose this corporate astroturfing.