Has the American public not learned from its mistakes of the 20th century? How can we stand by and watch the injustice occurring in our neighborhoods? We should be ashamed of ourselves for resorting to Jim Crow-era tactics in our approach to big bonuses for Wall Street bankers.
AIG's CEO Robert Benmosche is reaching out asking for our help. He will no longer stand for the public outrage over high bonuses, and neither should we. Here is what he said in his interview with the Wall Street Journal:
The uproar over bonuses "was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong."
Shocked? So are people around the internet as they react to this blatantly ignorant comment made by one of the top leaders in the financial industry. If he thinks comparing public outrage to racist torture, murder, and lynchings will get him off the hook for bad managerial decisions rewarded with extravagant bonuses, he needs to think again. This comment only detracts from any legitimate arguments he may have made during the interview. The only thing Benmosche has achieved is reinforcing our perception of an industry plagued with selfish egomaniacs.
Even those who support "big bonuses" should be upset with Benmosche's statement. Likening the mass murder of a group people based on skin color to some people posting angry blog posts is ignorance at best and offensive at worst. I dare him to look someone in the eye whose great-great grandfather was lynched in the South and then make the same argument again.
It will be hard to shake this gorilla off AIG's back. Benmosche should have listened to his kindergarten teacher "think before you speak."