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Responding to last weekend's demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday sent a letter to company staff deriding hate groups, bigotry and violence, while denouncing President Donald Trump's "equivalence" of white nationalists and human rights advocates.
In the letter to employees, obtained by BuzzFeed News, Cook uses strong words to illustrate a clear distinction between white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers, and those who oppose them. As he has in the past, the executive quantifies human rights as an issue of morality, not one of politics, saying everyone must stand together to ensure equal rights for all.
"This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality," Cook writes. "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."
Trump took flak this week from media outlets for a limp response regarding the unrest in Charlottesville. He later condemned the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis in a statement on Monday, but defended his initial moral equivalency in a combative back-and-forth press conference on Tuesday.
Aside from disagreeing with Trump, Cook in his letter says Apple is a leader in human rights initiatives, presumably a reference to the company's employee diversity program, corporate outreach and public advocacy. Further, customers "from every walk of life" are welcomed into Apple stores, while Apple products help empower people by allowing them to voice their opinions in creative ways.
Calling the events in Charlottesville "repulsive," Cook announced a pair of $1 million contributions to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. The company is also matching employee donations to those and other human rights groups on a two-to-one basis until Sept. 30. In addition to corporate contributions, Apple plans to open iTunes donations for SPLC "in the coming days."
The letter comes after news that Apple has begun disabling Apple Pay for websites selling apparel and other goods sporting white nationalist and Nazi iconography.
The memo 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.
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