THE BLOG

Carly Fiorina Out of Step With America and Tim Cook

04/08/2015 03:08 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Failed business executive Carly Fiorina is distressed. Admittedly a very long shot candidate for the White House in 2016, she is distressed that the media lavishes so much attention on Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush and others.

Did Carly turn her distress on her political rivals? Nope.

Did she give President Obama a smack down? Nope.

Instead, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, she attacked Apple CEO Tim Cook as a hypocrite. Why? Because she declares it unfair for him to condemn Indiana's attempt to discriminate against gay Americans when he sells Apple products in places like China and Saudi Arabia that can be so cruel to women and gay people?

Peculiar you might say. To begin, just consider Carly Fiorina's past stewardship of Hewlett-Packard as a road map for Tim Cook's Apple? Last month remember that Apple was the first U.S. firm in Wall Street history to surpass the $700 billion capitalization mark - doubling the size of Microsoft.

By contrast at H-P a decade ago, Fiorina's rocky tenure as CEO destroyed jobs, corporate reputation and immense shareholder value -- until her Board fired her. Tim Cook has forgotten more about innovation, technology and global business strategies than Fiorina has ever learned.

Fiorina's hackles were up because Tim Cook opposed discriminatory, anti-business legislation in Indiana and other states that would allow people to cite personal religious beliefs as a reason not to serve a customer who is lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender.

In the Washington Post, Cook said:

our message, to people around the country and around the world is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

As Tim Cook and most Americans understand, the United States aspires to the highest standards in human rights as the envy of the free (and not so free) world. As Americans, it is past time we put our own house in order before we try to fix other societies. Most important, simply because other cultures and societies are hateful towards others is never a defense or excuse against legal bigotry here at home.

Fiorina's aimless gripe is like hinting American Jews in the 1930s should be perfectly fine with religious covenants in housing and workplace bias because Nazi policies in Europe were genocidal. Or foolishly suggesting that African-Americans in the 1950s should be content with segregation and even occasional lynching, considering what they endured under slavery.

It's stunning that anyone from Fiorina or even Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (who expressed similar views) really believe that enduring new forms of discrimination here at home, where we live, work, raise families, shop for goods and services and pay taxes is a small price to pay compared with sterner, crueler and more hateful societies.

Fiorina wrongly suggests Cook might be so mad at Indiana's anti-gay stance that he threatened to boycott the state -- a promise he never uttered. Just the opposite. Instead, he promised that while he sells Apple products in Indianapolis or Bloomington, or anywhere around the globe, "everyone is welcome."

While we fight for equality and ending discrimination in every state and every city here in America, it's also inspiring just to know that a transgender adolescent in China, or a struggling gay teen in Saudi Arabia or a lesbian Mom in Fort Wayne is free to purchase an iPhone or an iMac, or soon an Apple Watch -- knowing that the global company that created that product is led by an openly gay entrepreneur.

America's tech leadership agrees wholeheartedly with Cook and not with Fiorina.
This week more than a hundred top CEOs from Facebook to Google, from Twitter to Pandora and from Youtube to Cisco, said as one:

The values of diversity, fairness and equality are central to our industry. These values fuel creativity and inspiration, and those in turn make the U.S. technology sector the most admired in the world today.

We believe it is critically important to speak out about proposed bills and existing laws that would put the rights of minorities at risk. The transparent and open economy of the future depends on it, and the values of this great nation are at stake.

America yet has a long way to go. The rest of the world needs fewer lectures from us, and more living examples, inspiration, encouragement and leadership that remind them what open minds, open markets and open societies look like -- and that oppose discrimination. Equality and human rights should bloom everywhere, but they always begin at home.