Commentary Magazine


Topic: Chick-fil-A

Will the Left Pause After DC Shooting?

After virtually every shooting attack in which a gunman took the lives of innocents in this country, the instinct of the mainstream media and the liberal chattering classes has always been to look for a reason to blame conservatives. Whether it was the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords or the Aurora, Colorado movie theater tragedy, the initial assumption by many has been that the violence was the result of incitement or direct involvement by members of the Tea Party movement or other conservative groups. In each instance, the accusations or insinuations have had to be quickly, though often grudgingly, withdrawn when the shooter turned out to be either mentally deranged or devoid of political intent. That leaves us wondering what those who have been so quick to use these tragedies as political soapboxes to denounce conservatives or to promote liberal patent nostrums will say after today’s incident in Washington.

Only the heroism of a security guard who was wounded prevented the shooting attack at the Family Research Council, a Washington think tank devoted to promoting social conservatism, from turning into a massacre. The shooter who barged into the group’s headquarters expressed disagreement with their policies and began shooting. Fortunately, the guard was able to disarm the perpetrator before he could do more harm. His avowal to police that he was there to oppose the FRC’s stands makes it clear that this is an open and shut case of domestic terrorism. The fact that he was carrying a bag from a Chick-fil-A restaurant — the chain that has come under intense fire from left-wingers because of its founder’s public opposition to gay marriage — should cause those who have been working overtime to demonize conservatives to do the same sort of soul-searching liberals ask the right to perform because of gun violence.

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After virtually every shooting attack in which a gunman took the lives of innocents in this country, the instinct of the mainstream media and the liberal chattering classes has always been to look for a reason to blame conservatives. Whether it was the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords or the Aurora, Colorado movie theater tragedy, the initial assumption by many has been that the violence was the result of incitement or direct involvement by members of the Tea Party movement or other conservative groups. In each instance, the accusations or insinuations have had to be quickly, though often grudgingly, withdrawn when the shooter turned out to be either mentally deranged or devoid of political intent. That leaves us wondering what those who have been so quick to use these tragedies as political soapboxes to denounce conservatives or to promote liberal patent nostrums will say after today’s incident in Washington.

Only the heroism of a security guard who was wounded prevented the shooting attack at the Family Research Council, a Washington think tank devoted to promoting social conservatism, from turning into a massacre. The shooter who barged into the group’s headquarters expressed disagreement with their policies and began shooting. Fortunately, the guard was able to disarm the perpetrator before he could do more harm. His avowal to police that he was there to oppose the FRC’s stands makes it clear that this is an open and shut case of domestic terrorism. The fact that he was carrying a bag from a Chick-fil-A restaurant — the chain that has come under intense fire from left-wingers because of its founder’s public opposition to gay marriage — should cause those who have been working overtime to demonize conservatives to do the same sort of soul-searching liberals ask the right to perform because of gun violence.

Let’s specify that blaming the act of this individual on those activists and writers who have publicly opposed the Family Research Council’s stands is simply wrong. Debate is integral to democracy and it is just as much of a mistake to blame all liberals for the violence of a single leftist as it is to blame all on the right for anything done in their name but without their consent.

But liberals who have often jumped to the conclusion that all Tea Partiers are violent racists because of stray comments from extremists need to remember that such tactics cut both ways. Those who have repeatedly cautioned conservatives to mind their tongues and be careful about using language that would delegitimize their opponents now must think about what they have been saying in recent weeks and months about the so-called “war on women” or supporters of Chick-fil-A. If they thought violent rhetoric emanating from the right was a problem that could be linked to violence, then they must understand that incitement against conservatives is just as noxious. That is all the more true because almost all of the accusations of right-wing involvement in violence have been proven false while the Washington gunman’s statements make it clear that he was motivated by left-wing politics.

Civility is important and the need to speak with respect for one’s opponents and their positions is a lesson that both sides of our great political divide should heed. But as we learned today, it is not one that should be limited to just the right.

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Emanuel Has No Problem With Farrakhan

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may, as Bethany wrote yesterday, have a problem with Chick-fil-A but apparently he has far more tolerance for anti-Semitic lunatics than for gay marriage opponents. Chick-fil-A might be getting blocked from the city, but Emanuel warmly applauded Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam for patrolling the city streets yesterday, with no mention of Farrakhan’s long-held anti-Semitism:

Ignoring Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic remarks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday welcomed the army of men dispatched to the streets by Farrakhan to stop the violence in Chicago neighborhoods. …

“The police have a role to play. Tearing down abandoned buildings has a role to play. Shutting liquor stores that are a cancer in the community have a role to play. Community leaders have a role to play. Pastors have a role to play. Principals have a role to play. And most importantly, parents have roles to play. They have decided, the Nation of Islam, to help protect the community. And that’s an important ingredient, like all the other aspects of protecting a neighborhood.”

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may, as Bethany wrote yesterday, have a problem with Chick-fil-A but apparently he has far more tolerance for anti-Semitic lunatics than for gay marriage opponents. Chick-fil-A might be getting blocked from the city, but Emanuel warmly applauded Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam for patrolling the city streets yesterday, with no mention of Farrakhan’s long-held anti-Semitism:

Ignoring Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic remarks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday welcomed the army of men dispatched to the streets by Farrakhan to stop the violence in Chicago neighborhoods. …

“The police have a role to play. Tearing down abandoned buildings has a role to play. Shutting liquor stores that are a cancer in the community have a role to play. Community leaders have a role to play. Pastors have a role to play. Principals have a role to play. And most importantly, parents have roles to play. They have decided, the Nation of Islam, to help protect the community. And that’s an important ingredient, like all the other aspects of protecting a neighborhood.”

Farrakhan has been deploying groups of his followers to crime-ridden city neighborhoods on Mondays, to act as a “human wall of protection” in case gunfire suddenly breaks out and stray bullets start flying. That seems like a flawless plan, so you can see why Emanuel would find Farrakhan incredibly important to the crime-fighting efforts.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from a speech Farrakhan gave earlier this month, transcribed by the ADL:

Farrakhan: How many of you are lawyers? Only have one in the house? No wonder we go to jail so much, brother! But at the top of the law profession, who are the top in law?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: Sorry I didn’t hear you.

Audience: Jews!

Farrakhan: Any doctors in the house? Ain’t got no doctors? Oh there’s one way in the back. At the top of the medical profession, the top in that are members of the Jewish community. Anybody in media? Who’s the top in that field?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: Anybody a rapper in the house? There’s rappers. You can rap, ain’t nothing wrong with that, but at the top of that are those that control the industry. Any of you have Hollywood ambitions, Broadway ambitions? Who’s the top of that?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: Same people! They’re masters in business. Well I’m not a businessman I’m a banker. Well who’s the master of the bankers?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: TALK TO ME!

Audience: Jews!

Farrakhan: You don’t discredit them because they’re masters, you discredit them by the way they use their mastery.

Audience: [applause]

Farrakhan: Now, I close

Good thing Emanuel is taking a stand against those bigoted Chick-fil-A franchises, am I right?

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Chicago and Boston Chose Liberalism Over First Amendment

Last week, I discussed liberal intolerance of those in opposition of their particular viewpoints, and almost on cue, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino came onto the scene today to embody the ideals of modern-day liberalism: tolerance of only those with whom they already agree. Both mayors expressed support for same-sex marriage and not only expressed their personal opposition to Chick-fil-A’s social conservatism, but also those of their cities.

In a public letter to Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy, and carbon copied to the owner of a property that it appears Chick-fil-A would occupy, Mayor Menino expressed his opposition to the chicken restaurant’s plans to locate in Boston. The strongly worded letter reads in part, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”

To be clear, Chick-fil-A discriminates against no one, not employees and not customers; its policies expressly forbid it. Chick-fil-A and its president have expressed their support of the traditional family and Christian values, which are not by definition anti-gay. Their charitable organization, WinShape, has donated money not only to organizations that support traditional marriage, but also to foster homes, college scholarships and international relief efforts. Chick-fil-A’s other charitable contributions are irrelevant to those who view anyone who is not with them on the quest to redefine marriage as a bigot who must be taken down at any cost.

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Last week, I discussed liberal intolerance of those in opposition of their particular viewpoints, and almost on cue, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino came onto the scene today to embody the ideals of modern-day liberalism: tolerance of only those with whom they already agree. Both mayors expressed support for same-sex marriage and not only expressed their personal opposition to Chick-fil-A’s social conservatism, but also those of their cities.

In a public letter to Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy, and carbon copied to the owner of a property that it appears Chick-fil-A would occupy, Mayor Menino expressed his opposition to the chicken restaurant’s plans to locate in Boston. The strongly worded letter reads in part, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”

To be clear, Chick-fil-A discriminates against no one, not employees and not customers; its policies expressly forbid it. Chick-fil-A and its president have expressed their support of the traditional family and Christian values, which are not by definition anti-gay. Their charitable organization, WinShape, has donated money not only to organizations that support traditional marriage, but also to foster homes, college scholarships and international relief efforts. Chick-fil-A’s other charitable contributions are irrelevant to those who view anyone who is not with them on the quest to redefine marriage as a bigot who must be taken down at any cost.

Not to be outdone, Chicago’s Mayor (and Barack Obama’s former chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel announced support of a Chicago alderman’s refusal to approve a building permit for Chick-fil-A in one of Chicago’s wards. The Volokh Conspiracy explains just how unconstitutional this move is:

But denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation. Even when it comes to government contracting — where the government is choosing how to spend government money — the government generally may not discriminate based on the contractor’s speech, see Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr (1996). It is even clearer that the government may not make decisions about how people will be allowed to use their own property based on the speaker’s past speech.

And this is so even if there is no statutory right to a particular kind of building permit (and I don’t know what the rule is under Illinois law). Even if the government may deny permits to people based on various reasons, it may not deny permits to people based on their exercise of his First Amendment rights. It doesn’t matter if the applicant expresses speech that doesn’t share the government officials’ values, or even the values of the majority of local citizens. It doesn’t matter if the applicant’s speech is seen as “disrespect[ful]” of certain groups. The First Amendment generally protects people’s rights to express such views without worrying that the government will deny them business permits as a result. That’s basic First Amendment law — but Alderman Moreno, Mayor Menino, and, apparently, Mayor Emanuel (if his statement is quoted in context), seem to either not know or not care about the law.

Of course, if Chick-fil-A actually discriminated in their serving or hiring decisions in Chicago in a way forbidden by Chicago or Illinois law, they could be punished for this violation, and possibly even denied future permits based on such illegal behavior. But the stories give no evidence of any such actions, and suggest that the city officials’ statements are based on the Chick-fil-A president’s speech, not any illegal conduct on the company’s part. Finally, note that the government may generally insist that, when it hires people to communicate a government message, those people use that government money only for the government-selected speech (see Rust v. Sullivan (1991)); but that power of the government to control its own speech is far removed from the government’s attempt in this case to retaliate against businesses for their owners’ speech.

Imagine, for a moment, if Governors Rick Perry or Chris Christie banned the sale of Ben & Jerry’s from their states because of that company’s support of same-sex marriage. What if, as his first act as president, Mitt Romney banned the Muppets from government-funded PBS after the Jim Henson company expressed their opposition to Chick-fil-A? You can just hear the wails of the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, the anchors of every major news station (including Fox) crying “FASCISM!” They would be absolutely correct in their charge. Using the government’s power to restrict commerce based on a personal vendetta is a chilling next step in a culture war that has turned business owners, job creators and people of faith into public enemies.

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Liberal Intolerance Strikes Chick-fil-A

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: The American Left and the self-described liberals who inhabit it are open-minded, inclusive and tolerant. As we’ve come to learn, however, that tolerance only extends to those who agree with their worldview.

The latest conservative in liberals’ crosshairs is Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy. An interview with the Baptist Press has caused a firestorm after Cathy stated he was “guilty as charged” in his company’s support of the traditional family.

For these remarks, boycott campaigns have raged across the internet as outraged liberals call the company and its president “hate mongers,” “bigots” and other, unpublishable, epithets. Many liberals have stated they will no longer “support” Chick-fil-A, perhaps under the mistaken impression that it is a charity, not a restaurant, a business that doesn’t need supporting, but patronizing.

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If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: The American Left and the self-described liberals who inhabit it are open-minded, inclusive and tolerant. As we’ve come to learn, however, that tolerance only extends to those who agree with their worldview.

The latest conservative in liberals’ crosshairs is Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy. An interview with the Baptist Press has caused a firestorm after Cathy stated he was “guilty as charged” in his company’s support of the traditional family.

For these remarks, boycott campaigns have raged across the internet as outraged liberals call the company and its president “hate mongers,” “bigots” and other, unpublishable, epithets. Many liberals have stated they will no longer “support” Chick-fil-A, perhaps under the mistaken impression that it is a charity, not a restaurant, a business that doesn’t need supporting, but patronizing.

Cathy’s remarks have been portrayed as “anti-gay” when in fact they are merely pro-traditional family. People can disagree with an action, position or lifestyle without being “anti-” something. Those who are pro-life aren’t anti-woman, those who are pro-family aren’t anti-gay, and those believe in the importance of hard work and dedication are not anti-poor.

The Left’s view on Cathy’s remarks show just how intolerant and sophomoric their ideology really is. Not only do they have no problem with Ben & Jerry‘s publicly and vocally supporting a position on gay rights, they laud their public stance. They “support” that company because its owners and founders follow the straight and narrow on what is “politically correct.” Others that deviate feel the wrath, as Chick-fil-A is now experiencing.

To my personal disappointment, the company has apparently buckled and released a statement that it will no longer become involved in partisan disputes, even though the company itself never did. It was the Left who involved the company in the dispute, and did so only because its president was “wrong,” according to their social views. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s have never, rightfully so, been terrorized by the Right for holding an opinion differing from their own. Some (like myself) have personally chosen not to buy their product, but a wholesale boycott was never issued in response to the personal views of its founders.

Many on the Right and Left continue to express disappointment about the polarization of American politics during the last several years, but it’s actions such as these that tear Americans apart. The campaign built to destroy Chick-fil-A has made patronizing what is, apparently, a very tasty chicken restaurant, into a political statement. There are enough things in our world that are controlled by political animosity. Chicken nuggets shouldn’t be one of them.

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