It was about two weeks ago when Ben & Jerry's announced that it would stop selling ice cream in disputed parts of the Middle East, explaining in a statement, "We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry's ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)." The company added that it intended to find a way to stay in Israel "through a different arrangement."
As we discussed soon after, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) responded to the corporate announcement by arguing that his home state "should immediately block the sale" of all Ben & Jerry's ice cream in Oklahoma.
It quickly became obvious that Lankford was basing his position on a state law that didn't actually apply, and the senator's push quietly collapsed -- let's say, melted -- soon after.
What I didn't realize is how many other Republicans would pick up on this. The Hill reported yesterday:
Florida has placed Ben [and] Jerry's parent corporation, Unilever, on a list of "scrutinized companies" amid the ice cream branding ending sales in certain Israeli-occupied areas. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that Unilever was added to the "Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel" list in a statement on Tuesday.
The Republican governor, who probably ought to be focusing more on the pandemic than international ice-cream sales, went on to complain yesterday about "woke corporate ideologues."
The list doesn't stop there. My MSNBC colleague Zeeshan Aleem wrote a related piece yesterday, adding, "Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has called for his state to sever ties with Ben & Jerry's and Unilever, and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has said that he's looking into the possibility of divesting from the companies. Pennsylvania Republican State Rep. Aaron Kaufer recently wrote a letter to the governor demanding the government 'end any affiliation or serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream' within the state's public institutions."
Circling back to our earlier coverage, for all the hysterical far-right complaints about "cancel culture," it's conservative Republicans who seem awfully eager to "cancel" companies that make decisions they disagree with.
Similarly, it's striking to see GOP officials celebrate "free markets" as a core tenet of Republican thought, only to have GOP officials use their positions to demand punishments for an ice cream company after it made a foreign licensing decision the party didn't like.