Apple CEO Tim Cook has written a letter to employees denouncing the idea of “moral equivalence” between racist groups and their opponents, and promising donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
In the letter, obtained Wednesday by Recode, Cook commented on the events over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists held a Unite the Right rally that drew counterprotesters and saw one counterprotester killed when a man drove his car into her group.
“What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country,” the out CEO wrote. “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.”
Apple will donate $1 million each to the SPLC and ADL, and will match two-for-one any employee donation to those or other human rights groups through September 30, Cook said. The company is also setting up a system through iTunes that “will offer users an easy way” to support the SPLC, he wrote.
Cook noted that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Apple, Cook added, “will continue to speak up.”
The letter is an example of continued backlash by American businesses against Donald Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, especially his Tuesday remarks blaming “both sides” for clashes between Unite the Right participants and counterprotesters. There were “some very fine people on both sides” in addition to “bad people,” he said.
Corporate executives began leaving the president’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and his Strategic and Policy Forum, and remaining members decided to disband the advisory panels — a decision that Trump claimed was his.
Cook has spoken out against Trump administration moves before. In February he denounced the decision by the Education and Justice departments to rescind guidelines issued during the Obama administration on equal treatment of transgender students in public schools, including recognition of their preferred names and pronouns, and assurance of access to restrooms and other sex-segregated facilities matching their gender identity.