On Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook showed up at the United Nations to talk about American politics. Cook, who is openly gay, talked in vague terms about facing discrimination, stating that after seeing a cross burning as a child, his life was “changed… forever.”
Cook labeled opposition to illegal immigration a form of discrimination, stating that amnesty measures should be undertaken: “Do not do them because they are economically sound–although they are–do them because they are right and just.” With regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), he stated, “Now is the time to write these basic principles of human dignity into the book of law.”
The tech executive linked his own company’s production of handicap-accessible hardware to these political issues, both sequentially and in his word choice. Cook said that he keeps photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy on his desk for inspiration, as symbols of their sacrifices in the name of civil rights. “They serve as a reminder to me every day that regardless of the path one chooses, there are fundamental commitments that should be a part of one’s journey. For this reason and many others, I was very fortunate that my life’s journey took me to Apple.”
As evidence for his company’s inspiration by civil rights heroes, Cook cited the universal accessibility of its products. “We never, never ever analyze the return on investment,” Cook said of gadgets usable by the physically disabled. “We do it because it is just and right, and that is what respect for human dignity requires.” Later in the speech, he reused the phrase “right and just” to describe the immigration reform measures currently under consideration by Congress.