Most people don't equate public outrage over executive bonuses in 2013 with lynchings in the
Civil Rights era. In a Sept. 23 interview in the Wall Street Journal,
AIG Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche did just that. Critics of AIG's post-bailout bonuses tried to foment outrage, he said, "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. And I think it
was just as bad and just as wrong." To Diermeier, "those comments reignited a debate that was already dead by using particularly inflammatory language."
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, called for Benmosche
to resign; the CEO apologized for his "poor choice of words" on Sept. 24 and met with Cummings on Oct. 11. An AIG spokesman said the company wouldn't comment beyond a statement put out after the meeting in which Benmosche apologized for how he "unintentionally trivialized a horrible legacy of our country."
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