Last week, the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain issued a statement that was widely, perhaps almost universally, interpreted as a concession to pressure against its support of traditional marriage groups. The statement from the company???s real estate director said Chick-fil-A???s WinShape Foundation ???is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.???
This was immediately and loudly interpreted as capitulation by thuggish Chicago alderman Joe Moreno, who believes the right to do business in his city is contingent upon accepting certain political agenda items, especially the endorsement of same-sex marriage. After ten months of ???negotiations??? with company executives, Moreno trumpeted that Chick-fil-A would now ???stop using money to fund groups that have anti-gay causes.???
Some wondered if Chick-fil-A was making a purely rhetorical concession that would not result in a lasting change to the company???s behavior ??? basically, they???d say ???okay, fine, we???ll review our support for those traditional marriage groups??? to get their Chicago restaurants up and running, and hope that the pressure from gay marriage proponents would subside over time, but they wouldn???t actually do anything different. That seemed like an unlikely strategy, since it would only enrage Chick-fil-A???s strident critics further down the line, when they realized they had been duped.
As it turns out, there doesn???t seem to have been any long-term strategy in place, because over the weekend Chick-fil-A issued a statement of ???clarification??? whose primary result was unclarifying everything:
For many months now, Chick-fil-A???s corporate giving has been mischaracterized. And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving. For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.
A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A???s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.
As we have stated, the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect ??? regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy also told Mike Huckabee, ???There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect.???
Unsurprisingly, this did not sit well with Commissar Moreno, who told CNN on Sunday that Cathy???s statement ???at the least muddied the progress we had made with Chick-fil-A and, at the worst, contradicted the documents and promises Chick-fil-A made to me and the community earlier this month.???
Like any bully who gets slapped in the face, Moreno grew angry, firing off a statement that read, ???I am simply asking Mr. Cathy to confirm statements and documents that HIS company executives provided to me. It???s pretty simple, Mr. Cathy. Do you acknowledge and support the policies that your executives outlined to me in writing or do you not? Yes or no????
I???ll take a backseat to no one in my contempt for totalitarians like Joe Moreno, whose methods should revolt every true American no matter what they think of the causes he claims to espouse, but he does have a point about the need for a firm and final answer. It???s absurd and frightening that we???ve reached a point where submission to a political agenda is deemed necessary to obtain building permits, but if Chick-fil-A intends to resist that agenda, they should make it clear.
Some of the confusion appears to stem from Chick-fil-A believing that the traditional marriage groups it supports don???t really have a ???political agenda,??? so what they told Moreno about withholding support from political groups is technically true, as they see it. But totalitarians are always on offense. To them, everything is a ???political agenda,??? and every facet of American life ??? from the waffle iron you get as a wedding present, to the waffle fries you get with your chicken nuggets ??? is politicized. In the eyes of someone like Moreno, if you don???t enthusiastically support same-sex marriage, you ???politically work against the rights of gay and lesbian people,??? as he put it. His political agenda is fused with the very identity of his favored constituents; if you don???t support their political goals, you hate them.
In such an atmosphere, there???s no check box for ???no opinion,??? and there are no sidelines to sit on. Joe Moreno says you???re not allowed to question the wisdom of re-defining marriage, or maintain that traditional marriage has any superior virtues. There is no way to quietly disagree with him, not for a company that has become the target of so much political wrath.