Life used to be a lot simpler. When you were hungry or needed to buy some pens, you simply bought a sandwich at a deli or went to the stationery store. The notion that where you ate or bought pens might be a politically significant act didn’t cross your mind.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.
Over at the Atlantic Monthly, Jonathan Merritt criticized those calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A. After citing examples of Chick-fil-A’s service to communities and its dedication to its employees, Merritt asked, “In a nation that’s as divided as ours is, do we really want our commercial lives and our political lives to be so wholly intermeshed?”
In a better world, the answer might be “no.” In that better world, buying pens and eating lunch would be a politics-free experience. All that would matter is whether we’re getting value for our money.
Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the one we have. In this one, big corporations like Office Depot will embrace all sorts of fashionable and politically correct causes if they think it will help their stock price. They are asking us to patronize them because they “care” about the politically correct thing. This is why Office Depot publicly joined forces with Lady Gaga and her campaign for “empowerment.”
And this is why Kraft produced an Oreo cookie with rainbow-colored filling. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.
In other words, they, not consumers, introduced politics into the equation, thus running the risk that people might object to the politics they were embracing.
Now, I’m not calling for a boycott of Office Depot. But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take their “advocacy” into consideration when we need office supplies; is there?
And let’s be clear: The people who turn buying pens and eating Oreos into a politically-significant act have no ground to complain when a privately owned business like Chick-fil-A publicly proclaims that it is pro-family.
So the next time you’re hungry, by all means feel free to take into consideration Chick-fil-A’s commitment to the traditional family and giving back to the community. After all, it’s still a free country.
And some people say the ‘culture war’ is over, or should be. (Some would call for an end to Christian boycotts, for example.)
It’s just barely begun.
Let the games begin, in earnest! Red state vs. blue state; which corporations will win?
Vote with your dollars, folks – and shut down businesses that support causes you don’t agree with.
Then maybe, eventually, corporations will stop pandering to special interest groups, once they see it hurts their bottom line.
*Update: In all seriousness, I don’t know that public boycotts can work, because they tend to either establish counter-reactions, or don’t convince others to join in. But private actions, not publicized, could shut down a company if enough of their customers did it – unless they figured out in time why their sales were dropping… A buycott of companies standing for the good and right is probably a better idea; the success of the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1 shows how well such can work.