So I don’t know quite what to make of this Chick-Fil-A fiasco. I am truly shocked and repulsed by the sheer level of support they have received, though I guess really I’m kind of bummed overall that this story has received the attention that it has. Are we all that bored? Do we all feel that impotent in the face of paralyzing income inequality and endless war that we have turned our attention to the ramblings of a fast food boss?
What I can say though is that the Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day? It’s a good sign. It’s one of the last gasps of a dying generation of bigots who are clinging to a world they know is vanishing. To all people who are LGBT and are LGBT allies: just keep on living, keep on fighting the good fight wherever you are, and support your local fried chicken establishment. (And if you’re road tripping, eat at Subway. Seriously, man it’s better for you!)
So far, Chick Fil-A has had to lie to its customers about why their kids don’t have Muppets toys, and create a fake Facebook account to support their organization/ They would not do this, unless they knew their position was a customer-loser. (And unless they were a disingenuous, hypocritical organization that apparently does not realize that while homosexuality is definitely not in the 10 Commandments, lying definitely is a no-no.) Of course you don’t need to hear it from me. Jon Stewart already said it better.
There is one thing I will say. The big problem with “culture war” battles is that politicians love to jump in with symbolic messages of support.
“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Why thank you, Shakespeare.
Recently we have heard statements from Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston and Mayor Rahm “Liberals are fucking retarded” Emanuel, claiming that they will prevent Chick-Fil-A from establishing restaurants in their cities.
Okay so I can safely establish they can’t do this. Seriously, if someone can show me a legal path forward for how this could be done, I’d be willing to consider it. But they simply aren’t going to do it! As Jon Stewart pointed out recently, this would set a precedent that neither politician is going to follow through on. If these politicians are willing to go after Exxon Mobil stations in their areas or the Catholic Church or the freaking Boy Scouts (groups which actually practice discriminatory policies in their workplaces), then I would be impressed.
Those of us who are pro-LGBT rights need to avoid giving credit to politicians for making symbolic gestures towards our movement but are unwilling to take action in other ways. Now his crackdowns on Occupy Boston aside, I do have respect for Mayor Menino, particularly for his efforts cracking down on illegal guns. But Rahm? The dude who’s trying to break the Chicago Teacher’s Union? The corporate Democrat who spent his Washington career quashing the ambitions of progressive Democrats? The SOB who turned Chicago into a police state and sent the police running amok among peaceful anti-NATO protests?! Rahm Emanuel does not deserve a single penny of support from progressives, but he’s hoping to shore up some of that support by shaking a meaningless finger at a maker of fried chicken. Don’t give it to him!
In a similar moment earlier this year, President Obama announced he had evolved enough to support gay marriage. But as Gawker pointed out that view was only a personal one; he has continued to maintain that states have the right to decide, even though this really should be an open-and-shut 14th amendment case. Obama made a symbolic gesture, and in the process, shored up progressive support and, he hoped, money. But again, that did not translate to action. We as a movement cannot accept symbolic gestures. We must demand action, or in the end, we will get nothing for our troubles.
But on the other hand: Politicians feeling they need to make symbolic gestures to the LGBT rights movement in order to win elections? That is progress. It’s not the end of the road, but it is progress nonetheless.