Apple CEO Tim Cook has criticized U.S. President Trump’s reaction to the violent events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one woman dead.
“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,” Cook wrote in an email to staff that was obtained by TechCrunch.
Cook previously tweeted that America must “stand against” white supremacy and racist violence, and he revealed that Apple will make $1 million donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
The company will also match employee donations, on a two-for-one basis, and it plans to introduce a donation option within iTunes soon.
“What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. 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,” Cook wrote.
President Trump has been roundly condemned by politicians, business leaders and other prominent figures for apportioning blame to both sides for violence and failing to denounce the extreme right protesters, which included links to neo-nazis and other hate groups.
Outside of opening rifts inside his party and administration, the President’s comments led to the closure of his Strategic and Policy Forum, a group made up of business leaders from various industries, after a number of members quit. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich indicated he left the group because the President did not “condemn hate speech or white supremacy by name.”
Apple is among the tech companies to have taken action following the violent events over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, having disabled support for Apple Pay for white supremacist websites selling Nazi merchandize.
PayPal took a similar step to Apple, Digital Ocean and Cloudflare ditched neo-nazi website The Daily Stormer — following similar moves from companies including GoDaddy, Google, SendGrid and Zoho — while Spotify and Squarespace also took action against the extreme right.
Here’s Cook’s letter to Apple staff in full:
Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and I’ve heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.
What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. 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.
Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.
I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products.
In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees’ donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30.
In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change.