To: Robert Benmosche, CEO of AIG
Demand AIG CEO Robert Benmosche apologize and resign
Mr. Benmosche, we demand you apologize and resign as CEO of AIG for saying criticism of Wall Street's multi-million dollar bonuses was “just as bad and just as wrong” as racially-motivated lynching.
Why is this important?
In an interview published on Monday Sept. 23 in the Wall Street Journal, AIG CEO Robert Benmosche claimed that the criticism aimed at AIG for awarding its employees bonuses after it and other Wall Street firms crashed the economy and were rewarded with bailouts 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."
Aside from its shocking insensitivity, this statement reveals the insularity, arrogance, and breathtaking entitlement that pervades Wall Street institutions. These attitudes, when combined with their economic and political power, led to the Wall Street bankers’ criminal behavior that destroyed our economy and stole our homes.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) put Benmosche’s words in stark context on Tuesday Sept 24 saying,
“[A]s the son of sharecroppers who actually experienced lynchings in their communities—I find it unbelievably appalling that Mr. Benmosche equates the violent repression of the African American people with congressional efforts to prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars. If these statements are true, I believe he has demonstrated a fundamental inability to lead this modern global company in a responsible manner—a company that exists today only because it was rescued by the American taxpayers—and that he should resign his position as CEO immediately.”
We could not agree more. We call on AIG CEO Robert Benmosche to apologize clearly and unequivocally, especially to African Americans and members of communities that have been targets of racial violence, and to resign his position as CEO of a firm that only exists today thanks to an $85 billion bailout.
(For more information on the extent of lynchings in American history, the Charles Chestnutt Digital Archive at Berea College is a good source of statistics. http://faculty.berea.edu/browners/chesnutt/classroom/lynchingstat.html)