Sour Grapes Toward Foreign Auto Makers

An anonymous, pass-along e-mail — the kind that spreads like an old-fashioned chain letter and quickly turns fiction into oft-repeated urban legends — continues to make the rounds, accusing foreign-based producers of not making charitable donations in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The e-mails, that began soon after 9/11 and continue to appear in inboxes from coast to coast, seem to be aimed at “helping” Detroit's Big Three auto makers by stirring up resentment against foreign brands — even if they are built in the U.S.

Many auto makers contributed to relief efforts after the attack. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. notes, for example, that employee and corporate relief donations surpassed $1.5 million, not including donated equipment. Toyota Motor Corp. says corporate, employee and dealer donations of $1.93 million have been spread among various relief organizations.

The purpose of the e-mail does not seem to be to encourage global corporations to make more generous charitable contributions, but rather seems to encourage xenophobia, ending with a plea to stop shopping those auto makers that already have “taken money out of this country.” That notion, says one WAW reader, “ignores the tens of thousands of U.S. workers who now make ‘foreign’ vehicles on U.S. soil as well as the ‘Detroit’ vehicles built in Canada and Mexico.”

What is perhaps more surprising is the number of people who seem to take such spam seriously. Ward's reporters have heard from a number of readers disturbed by these reports. To all we say: No, they aren't true. And neither is that e-mail about making $100,000 a month in your spare time.