by Stephen L Dunn
There have been so many major events this week worthy of reflection in a blog focusing on the theme “life matters.” There were the shootings in Aurora, the response to the ongoing drama at Penn State; even the arrival of the Summer Olympics. But today I feel the need to focus on the attacks on Dan Cathy and his company Chik-fil-a. Because Cathy has been candid and outspoken on his support of the traditional family, he has become a target for many–but especially politicians seeking to woo the gay, lesbian and transgender vote in America. The mayor of Boston and two alderman in Chicago have gained headlines and notoriety by castigating Cathy, threatening to boycott and or shut-down proposed operations by the restaurant chain in their communities. The vilification is worthy of an Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden, whose crimes against humanity are well-documented.
All they have succeeded in doing is providing more fuel on the divisions in our nation and amped up the already uncivil attitude that pretty much squelches honest and respectful civil discourse in a free society. In her excellent blog She Worships, Sharon Hodde Miller writes:
“Although I love Chick-fil-a’s food, there is much more behind my affection than the menu. I love that Chick-fil-a always has incredible customer service. I love knowing that I will be greeted with a warm and welcoming smile as soon as I approach the counter. I love that the employees go out of their way to ensure that you have an enjoyable dining experience. I love that the stores are always clean and hospitable. I love that Chick-fil-a is constantly full of small children because parents know it’s a safe place to bring their kids. I love that Chick-fil-a is intentional about being a positive influence in the community, and that it organizes family friendly events each week. I love that many of the store managers are some of the very best people I know. I love that Chick-fil-a goes out of its way to support the marriages and families of its employees. And I love that its employees are fiercely loyal to the company, and its patrons, as a result.
Perhaps most of all, I love that Chick-fil-a is pro-family, and not in an empty, hypocritical way that merely judges certain individuals while ignoring the sins of others. I love that Chick-fil-a is pro-family in an edifying and fruitful way: they are taking active steps to help the men and women in their company be better husbands and wives, and they are providing the families in their communities with kid-friendly activities designed to encourage family togetherness. And they do all this, not as a marketing gimmick, but as an expression of the company’s Christian values.
Chick-fil-a is not a perfect company because it is not led or employed by perfect people, but it is certainly a good company. It has worked hard to serve whatever community surrounds it–not just the Christians, and not just the traditional families, but everyone in the community. I wish more companies were like that.”
I could not have given a more articulate statement of the values and the value of this company and its corporate leadership. Read more from Sharon …
What has earned this vilification? The Cathy’s have refused to bow down to the god of political correctness that rules the intellectual and political mindset of this nation. In our nation today, the worst crime against humanity is to appear intolerant–i.e., refusing to accept the values of another person when we believe those values are destructive to the moral fiber on a people whose moral compass is spinning madly. His decision also to go against the conventional wisdom of retailers like Target who have chosen political correctness and its profits over respect for the traditional values of so many persons in this land–at the risk of profits (he also closes his stores on Sunday out of respect for the sabbath principles of his faith.)
The same guardians of political correctness seem untroubled by people who want to excuse the complicity of a football coach in one of the most horrendous child abuse cases in recent history because he is such a sports icon. They seem unwilling to speak out against the almost criminal gridlock in our political system that denies people adequate health care, continues to fund research into esoteric plant life while child care and social services are being shut down. If a politician in Boston or Chicago tried to shut down Dan Cathy because he was promoting a homosexual agenda, he would have been immediately excoriated in the press and from pulpits both political and religious.
I am troubled by all of this on two other levels. One is the boycott and counter-boycott threats that have erupted that simply amps up the already divisive rhetoric. Who will be hurt by boycotts and demonstrations at the stores–probably the employees (the clerks, cooks, counter people) but acts of arrogance and anger in or around their stores.
I also believe that those persons of the homosexual community who are genuinely wrestling with their lifestyle issues. The anti-boycott customers can make this about their opposition to homosexuality with a vehemence that can say to homosexuals that Christians are unwilling to show grace and gracefulness to people with whom they disagree.
And all of us should be outraged that public servants have so little respect for the Constitution that they would impose a litmus test of politically correct speech to the right to do business. The Constitution embeds freedom of speech into the body politic of our nation. Once you change that definition then you can justify all manner of injustices into a free nation. The next step could be the traditionally-minded majority taking away the rights of emerging iconoclasts, or a party in power defining what religion all Americans would be permitted or practice.
Fortunately, more intelligent minds are at work: The Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe editorial boards—normally not sources of traditional beliefs—have defended Chick-fil-A’s ability to open restaurants.
“Which part of the First Amendment does Menino (Mayor of Boston)
not understand?” a Globe editorial read July 25. “A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.”
More than vilifying men of commerce who take stands based on their deep moral convictions (and the financial risks that accompany those stands), we should be calling to account the politicians and forces that use political correctness as a bludgeon of conformity upon a free people.
But such is the tyranny of political correctness.