Delta and United Diss the NRA, are Guns the Next Harvey Weinstein?

When Jack Abramoff plead guilty in a lobbying corruption scandal a dozen years ago the parlor game in DC was claiming not to know him, have met him, or even heard of him. If politicians had been so unaware of Abramoff as they claimed there never would have been any charges to file.

Travel companies are running from the NRA faster than politicians whose committees had jurisdiction over Native American gaming ran from Jack Abramoff.

Earlier I wrote about rental car companies dropping their NRA discounts.

Now Delta and United have both announced their cutting ties with the NRA.

It’s no surprise that United copies Delta of course, though two hours was fast.

The NRA’s co-brand credit card partner has declared they won’t renew the contract. (HT: Doctor of Credit)

Wyndham hotels has also cut ties, and Best Western wants you to know that they didn’t have a relationship to begin with. (HT: JT Genter)

Duke professor Timur Kuran’s book Private Truth, Public Lies developed the idea of ‘preference falsification’ which helps explain why the timing of the fall of communism came as such a surprise. The Soviet Union crushed European dissent in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, yet the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of its reign. The people in these countries were willing to revolt — if others stood up too and everyone was confident enough they’d avoid being punished for doing so.

If you surveyed the citizens of these countries prior to the collapse of communism they’d have near-universally said they support it.

Then it fell and no one did. Even ardent supporters of the regimes became reformers, acting as though they had never really supported communism in the first place.

People lie about their true preferences because they believe they have to in order to serve their own ends. Then circumstances change and quickly it’s as though the previously powerful never had any friends at all.

So it is with Harvey Weinstein, as Professor Kuran elucidates well in an interview with Virginia Postrel from the fall.

“Every in Hollywood knew” for decades about his behavior, but no one talked until there was a clear enough avalanche that they weren’t alone and it was clear there’d be no repercussions. Even his closest associates who certainly knew and abided his behavior, and the culture of Hollywood generally, act like ex-communists turned reformers who claim never to have supported him in the first place really.

With past mass shootings there’s been public outrage over a limited period of time, and then the rage disappears. We’re not far enough from the most recent tragedy to say for sure what will happen. But what’s different this time does seem to be companies actively cutting ties, even the loosest of commercial relationships, with the NRA. Where was their outrage before now? Perhaps the floodgates have opened.

“Preference falsification” explains not just group think but also how quickly opinion can change, including how people who honestly held the old view appear to change sides quickly. Does it explain why rental car companies, airlines, hotels and the NRA’s credit card issuer are seeking cover from their association with the NRA — as quickly as politicians had fled from theirs with Abramoff?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for posting this good news. As for your prognostication about public opinion reaching a permanent tipping point that in turn triggers permanent corporate responses: I’m hopeful but not too optimistic. We’ll see if these corporations restore their de facto, outrageous subsidies for the NRA down the line. And that in turn could hinge on whether and to what extent the outcry against the NRA and its policies remains strong. Such outcries haven’t been sustained after past massacres – though, then again, we haven’t seen teenagers taking this kind of courageous lead on this issue before. And the terrible reality is that there will be future massacres that could in turn keep up the pressure against the NRA and on our politicians, especially Republicans who have largely marched in lockstep to NRA orders, to finally take action.

  2. It does feel different this time. I for one am happy to see the beginning of the end of this organization.

  3. I agree – a very insightful and thought-provoking post, Gary – thank you.

    And “The Lives of Others” is a truly superb film, although a UA F cabin was probably not the ideal environment for my lacrimal response to it …

  4. @ Gary — Nothing substantial will change anytime soon re: guns. Something way worse than the shootings we’ve seen so far will unfortunately be required. It is very sad.

  5. It’s not just about the NRA. The Second Amendment itself needs to be walked back. The current interpretation bears no resemblance to what the founders intended. For real change to occur, we will need a new Amendment interpreting and limiting the Second Amendment, and yes, some guns will need to be taken away to get us back to sane and reasonable.

  6. This is not surprising. Conservative beliefs are not tolerated by the opressive left and Corporations bow all the time to this pressure.

    In the case of this shooting, the government failed in everyway, including less school reporting to police because they deemed it was racially unfair. And yet in the face of overwhelming evidence of govn failure at every point, we are to give up more of our protection to this very govn?

    You think the FBI might have been a little strained by the Islamic radicalls they need to keep tabs on and the police inhibited by liberal minor rights in all of those police visits?

    People wonder why thiis is going on more today. Do you think an a hole like this would get away with this crap 40 years ago with 39 police visits?

  7. I think it’s more sad that the NRA essentially nuclearized itself beyond education and now has just become the enforcer in the room bending everyone’s will to protect the 2nd amendment. Or, put another way, it sucks that Americans see the word gun and automatically think NRA.

    Albeit, humanity can’t help but operate with so many issues at stake other than being “simple.” We don’t nuance well, we just pivot in the direction of fight or avoidance with no discussion.

    I’m a gun owner, love shooting, etc. I’m definitively not an NRA member. I’m also an African American which made it somewhat hard to feel any allegiance to the “brand” on top of not supporting their outright stance against gun control and sensible legislation.

    Here’s some attempt at nuance: I think American culture is becoming so clouded and sheepish that outrage can turn into a fundamental need to erase an “unprosecuted” offender off the map. Even someone I hate, I would respect enough to face due process. NRA is doing just fine but I’m sort of linking several movements into one feeling.

    I’m happy people are being put on notice, I really am. Bad men (and women), bad policy, bad behaviors… I’m just hoping we can avoid the pitchforks around the next turn.

    These victories feel so hollow. One company virtue signals, but really to protect its commercial success and we should rejoice? It seems to me these days sensibility still sits in the middle of the political spectrum, but we would only rather talk to a far left and far right demographic. That’s way more interesting right? What’s the headline that sells and what’s the content that drips with juice.

    Real change would be to talk to gun owners like me and other on the moderate right… who can suggest legislation from an “expert” opinion as a user but also with empathy. A gun owner or lover that also believes we can tweak things in ways that can start alleviating some of the sadness that is really become a daily occurrence. But instead, let’s just fight for clicks while parading as virtuous.

  8. Projected anger at the NRA. This particular case was a failure on many levels to take any action with the shooter. This is a societal problem, not a gun problem. People need to look within their own households, schools, communities for a solution.

  9. I view this as a business move masked in the language of a political statement – the internal calculus of these businesses finds that the economic benefits of having a relationship with the NRA aren’t worth the qualitative cost of having a relationship with them.

    I would also venture to say that today there are probably more “people with money” who are for gun control than against. Let’s hear Walmart and Dollar General come out against the NRA and then I will be genuinely surprised.

  10. @Gary. Let me get this straight. The gun issue has parallels with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Metoo movement, and Jack Abramoff. LOL. If you say so, it must be true. Dilly Dilly. Time for a Bud light.

  11. How is the NRA not a terrorist organisation? Banning it is the first step to getting this gun thing under control. Next is the 2nd Amendment which the gun nuts hide behind. It may have been a good idea a hundred years or so ago, but it’s twisted beyond it’s original purpose and needs redefining (or repealing). America, you aint the Wild West anymore!

  12. To add, anyone with a few bucks and some basic skills can 3D print a gun. Guns will NEVER go away, so forget about that as an option.

  13. @kenny, your comment proves, the gun culture cannot separate the need for smart gun regulations from a ban on guns.

  14. [summary of left’s argument] Yes, take away all the guns! The government will protect us! Like the Broward County Sheriff and the FBI did. Also, Trump is literally Hitler. But it’s also insane to suggest that private ownership of arms is a bulwark to freedom because no tyrant would ever arise in America. Also, every leftist wet-dream revolution started out with the guys with rifles taking on the guys with tanks, see, e.g. Viet Cong, Sandinistas, Cubans, etc. But that could never work here because Rednecks R so dumb. [/summary of left’s argument]

    I thing what we’re seeing here is less preference cascade and more the cowardice of corporate PR, dumping essentially worthelss “discounts” for a one time PR gain.

  15. Will Delta, United, Wyndham, Best Western, some banks, and the car rental companies cut ties with Planned Parenthood, the killer of millions of living babies?

  16. @CoolHandLuke

    How about we ban Planned Parenthood first? Wouldn’t that stop millions of babies from being killed without guns?

  17. The words you’re looking for to describe the Weinstein accusers and the companies severing ties with the NRA is “unprincipled cowards”.

  18. When they came for the Fourth Amendment, I did not say anything – because I had nothing to hide.
    When they came for the Second Amendment, I did not say anything – because I did not own a gun.
    When they came for the Fifth and Sixth amendments, I did not say anything – because I had committed no crimes.
    When they came for the first Amendment – I could not say anything.

  19. The simplest, most direct way to stop mass shootings is to make owning ARs illegal and buy back all in circulation. The alternatives gun enthusiasts offer to keep from having to give up their ARs are never going to work. Arming teachers when even the NYPD misses the shooter 82% of the time in a gunfight. Reopening mental hospitals – they would never be willing to pay more taxes for that. It is incredibly selfish to put your enjoyment of owning an AR above the safety of schoolchildren.

  20. @DaninMCI: You obviously are out of place here. Unlike the others, you aren’t an idiot and don’t have an extra chromosome.

  21. The fact is the NRA and its loyalists are perfectly willing to keep on sacrificing the lives of your children on their altar to the second amendment. And Trump marches to the gun lobby’s fanatical tune.

    Even in the old West where there were good reasons for widespread gun ownership, people had the good sense to realize that guns and civil society don’t mix. Many cities enacted laws barring guns in town. Of course there were no NRA extremists proclaiming second amendment infringement.

    Now that the gun manufacturers have flooded the U. S. with more than 300,000,000 guns, the NRA makes the perverse argument that the only way we can be safe is if we are all armed all the time in all locations. That’s the NRA vision for America.

    These are sick people who want the rest of us to believe there must be something wrong with us.

  22. Ban the NRA and guns. Wow! I didn’t know it was such a simple fix to the world’s problems. Utopia will arrive at any moment!!!!!

  23. Harvey Weinstein and Meryl Streep joined the “mile high club” together on the same flight. In the business class BIG bathroom.

  24. @john
    You are correct. And guns will soon be banned by federal edict. A new business will crop up. Since pot is now legal the cartels are looking for new endeavors. What a grand opportunity for enterprising individuals to open up gun running operations. Here in Texas I guarantee you it will happen. Boatloads of hardware available just across the Rio Grande. No wall to block it.

  25. Does this mean we will not longer have armed Federal Air Marshals of our flights? I for one am glad to have these officers onboard. They are trained professionals here to protest us from danger.

    We cannot “un-invent” technology. The thing we can control is realizing tragedy stirs up political hysteria and the lack of common sense prevailing in our society today has people going to nutty extremes – no matter where your political philosophies lie.

    We have armed bank guards guarding our money, Air Marshals protecting flight passengers. How can this be more important than protecting our children? Let’s find solutions together instead of dog piling on a group. Shame on companies that take a political side. Just run a good business for heaven’s sake. You have effectively alienated half of your consumer base.

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