Apple CEO warns against ‘cynicism’ in Washington

Apple CEO warns against ‘cynicism’ in Washington
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Apple CEO Tim Cook on Sunday cautioned against letting healthy skepticism turn to cynicism in Washington. 

During a commencement speech at George Washington University, Cook used his company as a model for how students could help “change the world.”

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“A healthy amount of skepticism is fine,” he said. “Though, too often in this town, it turns to cynicism. To the idea that, no matter who’s talking or what they’re saying, that their motives are questionable, their character is suspect, and if you search hard enough, you can prove that they are lying. Maybe that's just the world we live in. But graduates, this is your world to change.”

Cook talked about Apple’s commitment to promoting equality and education, and protecting the environment. He made a passing reference to how the prevalence of smartphones has empowered people who “witness injustice and want to expose it.”

He spoke about his own childhood in Alabama and the “betrayal” he felt when, in 1977, he met the state’s former Gov. George Wallace, who a decade earlier had “embraced the evils of segregation.” He contrasted that with his heroes Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. 

“But shaking his hand felt like a betrayal of my own beliefs. It felt wrong. Like I was selling a piece of my soul,” he said of meeting Wallace. 

When Cook came out publicly as gay last year, he quoted from King and noted Apple's long commitment to human rights and equality.

Apple, like other technology companies, has taken a leading role in supporting gay marriage, what many supporters consider to be a modern-day civil rights issue. Cook penned an op-ed earlier this year against Indiana’s religious freedom law, which created a huge backlash in March. 

“There are problems that need to be solved,” he told graduates on Sunday. “Injustices that need to be ended, people that are still being persecuted, diseases still in need of cure.”