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Target boycotts and threats are 'literally terrorism' says economics professor on MSNBC

Image via MSNBC / YouTube (screenshot)

A University of Michigan professor referred to boycotts and threats against big-box retailer Target as a form of literal terrorism in a recent interview on MSNBC, Newsweek reported.

Target recently dropped a whopping $9 billion in market value due to the retailer's rollout of its highly questionable LGBTQ Pride collection. It took just a week for the brand's value to drop 12% after it was revealed that the stores sold LGBTQ-themed onesies for babies, children's books advocating for drag queen shows, and "tuck-friendly" bathing suits.

A Target spokesperson said that threats had been made impacting "team members' sense of safety and wellbeing while at work," and the company subsequently decided to remove "items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior."

"Obviously any incident that would put employees at risk is something that any company would wisely take seriously," Target spokesperson Kelly O'Keefe commented. "This is a reflection of an unfortunate moment in our history, when one has to assume serious risk might be real."

Justin Wolfers, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, likened threats and boycotts to control what type of products Target pushes to a form of terrorism.

"One of two things are true. It could be [Target] are cowards and they use that as protection and a smokescreen so they could make a cowardly decision, or it could be that they are actually genuinely concerned about the well-being of their employees and they have had credible threats," Wolfers said on MSNBC's "The 11th Hour."

"If that is the case, when Target caves into this, then it says that the moment you threaten the employees of even a very large corporation, you get to control its policies. This is economic terrorism, literally terrorism, creating fear among the workers and forcing the corporations to sell the things you want, not sell the things you don't."

Wolfers added that he found Target's response to be "quite scary."

The professor joins some queer and transgender designers who blamed "domestic terrorists" for the removal of products from Target. "We are saddened to say that the majority of our collection has been removed from Target stores due to threats from domestic terrorists," read a post by a brand called Ash + Chess.

Target had previously sold one of the brand's shirts that read "Trans People Will Always Exist."

However, Target stores in three states allegedly received bomb threats for reportedly relocating the Pride collection or removing LGBTQ products, not for including the clothing in the first place.

In a leaked memo to employees, Target CEO Brian Cornell reportedly called it "gut-wrenching" to see what employees have "confronted" in store aisles.

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