Lying liars are still lying

I’ve been hearing a lot about how the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a bank in the heart of tech bro country, where Peter Thiel kept his money, was due to it being too woke. Go woke, go broke, as they say. As it turns out, the claim is contrived nonsense.

According to stories bursting across the right-wing mediasphere today, a key reason for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was its focus on spreading “woke culture” rather than efficiently managing risk and profits. Ground zero for this is the allegation that SVB had donated over $73 million to the “BLM Movement & Related Causes.” That struck me as quite a lot of money for a single company, even a large and profitable one, to give to any cause or even all causes. So I tried to find out where this factoid came from and rapidly found my way to a Trumpist think tank. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s a complete lie. I want to show you the receipts, but first some key details.

The story came from an “analysis” from the Center for the American Way of Life, a project of the Claremont Institute. You can tell from the name it was going to be a skeevy, dishonest organization, where they conflate “American” with “Capitalist”. What they did was compile all charitable donations to a huge range of organizations under one umbrella they called Black Lives Matter…not that BLM isn’t an unworthy recipient, but that they threw in so much money that any grass roots organization would have no way to spend it all.

Basically, if a donation benefitted a black person in any way, it was “BLM”. For instance:

Claremont lists 3M pledging a whopping $50 million to “BLM.” But the cited document, published in September 2020, appears to be mainly focused on supporting STEM learning in Black communities. It’s a pledge of $50 million over 5 years and lists $6 million in initial investments. That $6 million consisted of $5 million to the United Negro College Fund for work in St. Paul, Minnesota; another $1 million is slated for “annual investment to social justice partnerships, led by our employee resource network community champions and building on the initial investment from 3M Foundation in 2020.”

For Claremont, these are all “BLM.”

Oh, look, Boeing supported BLM! Not really.

Then there’s Boeing’s $15.6 million to “BLM.”

You can see the cited list of recipients here. The largest recipients include the Seattle Children’s Hospital, United Negro College Fund, Chicago Urban League, D.C. College Access Program and the Forum to Advance Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

My favorite, though, is Bank of America.

Rather unbelievably Claremont lists Bank of America as giving more than $18 billion to “BLM.”

Yes, billion.

The cited documents appear to report only $1.25 billion and that appears to be almost entirely going to financing for housing and business development in minority communities. So this money may be targeting minority advancement, but its in the form of loans that BOA will get paid back for. An apparently tiny fraction of that total (no specific numbers are cited) goes in grants to organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

Bank of America gets a big chunk of change from me every month, since they hold my mortgage. Which means, by the transitive property of the Claremont Institute, that I am giving a large fraction of my income to BLM every month.

The vast majority of the organizations are highly mainstream and even corporate in their focus (supporting minority-owned small businesses, recruiting minority employees in STEM fields). The ones that aren’t mainly focus on housing, closing gaps in medical care in minority communities and supporting STEM education and coding. In many cases, the cited documents include no information to support the purported dollar amounts at all. In some cases a claim about one corporation is backed up with a document about another corporation entirely. So there’s a high degree of slapdash and incompetence involved. But the general message is that anything in any way connected to Black people in pretty much any way is “BLM riots,” and explicitly supporting mayhem and violence.

Slapdash and incompetent is a good summary of most conservative organizations. Add in dishonest and it’s perfect.


  1. says

    This is very clearly part of an overall campaign to demonize ANY AND ALL forms of financial assistance toward any program or organization doing anything good for minority communities. Anything that benefits minority communities is conflated with “BLM,” and “BLM” is then conflated with “n****rs fixin’ to uprise.”

  2. says

    While I appreciate someone looked into this, can we also just say how absurd the claim is on its face? A bank failed because donated too much money?? Oh yes, $73M, that would have gone a long way to paying back $200B in deposits.

    I looked at Twitter on the day it collapsed, and some conservatives were joking that SVB collapsed because they had DEI programs. It’s like they really can’t think beyond how to use this as a “take that” to the wokes.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Well, I’m still seeing regurgitation of bullshit that Seattle and other cities were burned to the ground nightly by BLM and AntiFa.
    Amazingly efficient construction sector in those cities, doing a complete rebuild during the day, have it burned down and rebuilt the next day!
    The bots say it, the drone followers believe and regurgitate it. The idiots actually say that entire cities are burned to the ground.

    I’ve also heard, with my very own ears, as nearly deaf as they are, black people called “unused farm equipment”. Those who knew me instantly, after hearing that comment, looked at me to see what I’d do. The speaker realized what was said was not acceptable, largely due to the liquification of the air in the room and swiftly avoided that subject entirely. So, the hate mongers do have a survival instinct.
    The same speaker previously championing concentration camps for Muslims, eventually moving up to Democrats and again, changing subjects when I chided that I am indeed a registered Democrat.
    Yeah, they’d need a bigger boat.

    One plus is, they are predictable. That makes them much more easily countered, especially as their bullshit is always trivially proved to be bullshit and an insult to the intelligence of their target audience.
    Even idiots hate having their intelligence, such as it is, insulted.
    Oddly, these same folks also hate the 911 system, odd, as they rely heavily upon it whenever they even see someone guilty of living while being a member of their marginalized target group.

  4. wzrd1 says

    Siggy @2, you fail in that you assume that they utilize logic or have mastered basic math. They haven’t and more importantly, their audience hasn’t.
    Hate knows no logic, only hatred.

    God hates figs, which is good, that leaves more for me to eat. :P

  5. robro says

    It’s just Newspeak. Same as it ever was. Republicans want to blame “woke”…or anything else they can scrape up (aliens? Chinese? Friday the 13th fell on a Monday)…for the SVB collapse to deflect attention from their responsibility for gutting regulations in 2018 under Chump. From what I’ve read, as a result of the 2008 banking crisis, there were bank regulatory changes put into place during the Obama admin that increased the reserve requirements for banks like SVB. In 2018, the GOP pushed through changes that cut those reserve requirements, and SVB was just under that cap. Apparently, the CEO of SVB even promoted those changes in regulation.

  6. charley says

    BLM for them doesn’t refer the Black Lives Matter organization. It’s anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the republican tenet that black lives do not matter.

  7. drsteve says

    The book I’m currently reading is Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World, which I’ve already begun to highly recommend to friends and colleagues and loved ones.

    I was aware of a lot of high points of this history already, but so far the most fascinating previously-unknown knowledge has to do with the late-19th century origins of BoA as the Bank of Italy, in the context of Capital’s pattern of playing different ethnic groups off each other, and resultant shifting boundaries of ‘Whiteness.’

    So far, I’m finding the book incredibly valuable for a deeper understanding of how repeating right-wing complaints about ‘wokeness’ is the sign of of a dupe or a liar.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    A journalist at Axios was just fired after he referred to a statement by DeSantis as propaganda.

  9. wzrd1 says

    @10, not for his reporting, but for e-mailing the Florida Dept of Education with a remark that DeSantis’ statements were propaganda.
    Something decidedly not his job.

    From a news story covering it:
    ‘“We will expose the scams they are trying to push onto students across the country,” DeSantis said in the statement.

    Montgomery, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, replied to the email three minutes after getting it. “This is propaganda, not a press release,” he wrote to the Department of Education press office.’

    That’s not a question or request for comment, but a statement and out of line for a reporter.
    Had he written a story with that same statement, it’d be entirely correct and he’d still have his job. Antagonizing a department source that way burns bridges and one loses news and comment sources.

  10. drew says

    Well I’ve been watching it all unfold from techbro land and the news is nothing like that.

    It seems that that insulated right wing group wants a non-news reason to be outraged and that’s how their media triggered their anger junkies.

    Then, over in liberal land, reporting on the right wingers was just the thing to trigger the rage heads there.

    I’m gonna go pop some popcorn. This can’t be over yet.

  11. drsteve says


    My sense is that from the tech-bro-land perspective, the meat of this story is fundamentally about the hazards of Silicon Valley VC groupthink and to what extent someone like, oh, say, Peter Thiel can exploit those hazards. So what you’re describing is how this whole ‘wokeness’ angle functions as a distraction.

    Am I reading you right, or am I missing something?

  12. jenorafeuer says

    From one report I heard… it sounded like Thiel was one of the earlier people to pull his money out, and recommended that others pull their money out. Openly on social media.

    In other words, it sounded to me like Thiel helped precipitate the run on the bank that triggered the collapse, after he’d recovered his money. He turned a wary situation into a landslide by getting his fanboys to draw their money out too.

    So at least some of the distraction of ‘woke’ claims is probably to distract any of his fanboys away from thinking about that…

  13. StevoR says

    @ ^ jenorafeuer : Is that legal or something criminal that’s akin to insider trading or suchlike? Causing a crash or run after youve just taken your cash out looks dodgy as fuck to me.

  14. wzrd1 says

    StevoR, yep, it’s at best stock manipulation, at worst, securities fraud and bank manipulation, so either one felony or two felonies.
    The SEC already jumped on Musk over stock manipulation via social media, this being more severe in impact, yeah, bad news for Thiel.
    A handful of banks are working to bail out the failed one, we’ll see where that leads.
    But, one upside of the anti-woke broadside is that that’s discrediting and neutralizing what otherwise could’ve been a damaging weapon for the forces of stupidity.