The Finger Speech Was Uplifting

I have read in a number of places the uproar that has been caused by Indra Nooyi, President and CFO of Pepsi Cola. At first when I heard the stories I was somewhat taken aback. I could not figure how this person could compare the US to the middle finger and say that we just give this middle finger tot he rest of the world. If this were truly the case I would be on the same bandwagon as many of the others. I would take special exception because the person who made the remarks is from India and is now an American citizen. I would have to believe that it takes a great deal of gall to make it pretty big in the US as an immigrant turned citizen and then slap the country who took you out of third world squalor and made you fairly wealthy.

I had the chance to read the transcript of the graduation address that Ms. Nooyi gave and to be quite honest I can not see what all the ado is about. I see the analogy that was made and she delivered it well. First of all I think it was given to business students and it was stated in a business sense. There was a mention of politics but it was brief and did not seem inflammatory. She is right when she says the US is the biggest and strongest and that what it does influences those around. The analogy fit well with the fingers she used. She is also right when she said that when you reach out to those other nations you have to ensure you give them a hand and not the finger. It was a metaphor but she used it well and she also related a story about how some unthinking businessmen insulted their Chinese hosts in a business environment.

I have said a number of times to my soldiers, “you are an ambassador for your country.” When people from another country look at you they do not see Bob, or Mary, or Ted, or Sue, they see that American. Everything that a person does is evaluated as something that American did. It is important that when we have interactions with people from other countries, especially when doing business in their countries, that we act professionally and do not give them the finger. This lady made this point several times and she related it to relationships with colleagues and business associates around the world. I really can not see what the problem with her speech was.

I understand that people were upset because she did not mention the good things that America does in the world. We defend anyone who needs our help. We provide disaster relief. We are always the first ones to jump in when anyone needs help. It would appear she neglected all these things but to be quite honest I feel she was talking business to a bunch of business students and her comments were what she felt about the business world at large.

Now, that was as it deals with business. I can say that in the real world of ours there are forces that want us to die. They do not care about us and they are willing to die and kill a lot of people to get to us. In friendly business relationships you need to give a hand. When you are fighting for your life you give the finger, the fist, and every other thing that will inflict harm upon the enemy. When a nation reaches out in a fashion described in Ms. Nooyi’s business Utopia, then we give them a hand. We gave Iraq a hand, we gave Afghanistan a hand. We have given all of Europe a hand, especially those who were on the verge of being over run by the Nazis. We have given a hand in disaster relief. We have given a hand to starving people. We have given our hands too many times to count. The unfortunate thing is that we are often the ones who got the finger in return.

Remember, be an ambassador for your country and act like a professional just as Ms. Nooyi described. Ms. Nooyi, you did a wonderful job warning us to be careful not to give the finger but you failed to explain what it is we should do when we get the finger. If I had one criticism it would be that you painted the US as the ones who had to take care not to do this and that and described how the world views us as the ones giving the finger. You failed to describe exactly how the rest of the world treats us. As I stated, she was talking about business but one could paint with a broader brush. Perhaps that is why there was so much concern about her remarks.

After the fervor caused by her remarks, Ms. Nooyi apoligized. This is the text of her apology:

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.

– Indra Nooyi

I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt. She was a victim of that which she warned against.

Related Links:
Blogs for Bush
Hugh Hewitt
Michelle Malkin

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