An apology by PepsiCo’s president who likened the United States to a middle finger is apparently doing little to calm outrage caused by her remarks.
In the wake of WorldNetDaily’s coverage of Indra Nooyi’s commencement speech to graduates at Columbia Business School in which she compared the U.S. to the middle finger with both positive and negative connotations, consumers are vowing to boycott the company, and the topic is being widely discussed on talk radio.
“What is the compulsion that some people have in this country to constantly tear this country down?” asked talk-show host Rush Limbaugh today. “What is the compulsion to always judge this country guilty before you know anything? What is the compulsion that makes it necessary for some people to apologize for this country? This type of thinking resides almost exclusively on the left.”
Most of the letters coming in to WND are blasting PepsiCo and Nooyi in particular, seeking her ouster as president and chief financial officer.
“I think Pepsi’s CFO should be fired,” writes Peter Laventis. “Why work for one of the largest U.S. corporations if you are anti-American? Her comments typify the problem we have as a country. Here’s a foreign-born person who comes to America to seek personal freedom, financial success, and a great quality of life. They achieve that success and then turn around and use their money or position to speak out against the very country which provided it. … As far as Pepsi is concerned, I’ll be drinking Coke from now on.”
“I hope other Americans are as outraged and fed up with anti-American attacks as I am,” writes Barry Connell, a disabled American veteran. “As a result of your article, I have instructed my wife that we are not to purchase any products by PepsiCo. I have launched an e-mail to the PepsiCo board of directors telling them from this day onward, I refuse to purchase their products and will start a boycott against them. … I told them that since Indra Nooyi feels America is so evil, she should return and live in her own great Hindu nation, India.”
But David Forbes of Evergreen, Colo., thinks many are overreacting.
“Americans really have to grow up. What she had to say makes a lot of sense,” Forbes said, noting Nooyi was “dealing with an immature, self-centered audience.”
PepsiCo president Indra Nooyi
During her speech, Nooyi analyzed global business by comparing the five major continents with a finger on the human hand.
She said her analogy “leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and in particular, the United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg up in global business since the end of World War I.
“However, if used inappropriately – just like the U.S. itself, the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble,” Nooyi said, noting she would not demonstrate, nor was she looking for volunteers. “Discretion being the better part of valor, I think I’ll pass.”
What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S. – the long, middle finger – must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand, not the finger. Sometimes this very difficult. Because the U.S. – the middle finger – sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.
Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand – giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers – but instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.
As criticism of the speech increased on the Internet, Nooyi issued a statement about the matter, insisting she was not trying to be anti-American.
Nooyi’s clarification, however, did little to quell the criticism, resulting in Pepsico’s president issuing a “sincere apology,” late Thursday:
Following my remarks to the graduating class of Columbia University’s Business School in New York City, I have come to realize that my words and examples about America unintentionally depicted our country negatively and hurt people.
I appreciate the honest comments that have been shared with me since then, and am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I love America unshakably – without hesitation – and am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support our great nation has always provided me.
Over the years I’ve witnessed and advised others how a thoughtless gesture or comment can hurt good, caring people. Regrettably, I’ve proven my own point. Please accept my sincere apologies.
Based in Purchase, N.Y., PepsiCo is a leader in the U.S. food industry, producing not only Pepsi-Cola, but also products marketed by Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Quaker Oats and Gatorade.