Bidding Farewell to God’s Chicken
Chick-fil-A exposes the harsh truth: even corporations that seem like allies will turn on traditionalists. Fortunately there is another way.
Millions of our countrymen were heartbroken when Chick-fil-A announced it would no longer be partnering with the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I was heartbroken, too: it was a pathetic sight, and one I’ve seen before. When I lived in Sydney, I used to have to walk through the red light district to catch my train to and from work. Every night, there would be some balding, middle-aged pencil-pusher lined up outside Bada Bing bearing chocolates and roses.
“Is Roxxy dancing tonight?” they’d ask the bouncer. “What did I tell you yesterday, bruv?” the hulking Maori would growl. “Roxxy don’t want to see you again. Get out of here or I’ll break ya neck.” The poor chap would throw the tokens of his love into the gutter and slouch back to his middle-aged wife.
I imagine these Chick-fil-a-ophiles had the same crestfallen look when they read that press release. Back to their homes they go, off to eat cordon bleu from the same old tray in front of the same old television with their same old families. It’s a wonder they even bother to go on living.
What is it about human nature that makes us so enamored of junk food and junk sex? Sure: it’s cheap, fast, and on-demand. But that doesn’t explain why we become so emotionally invested. What makes a man fall in love with a stripper, or a multinational corporation? How does he find new hopes and dreams for the future in an establishment where all the prices are listed above the counter?
Don’t get me wrong: I understand the symbolism of the thing. Chick-fil-A is that rare example of a corporation that takes a loss in order to uphold Christian values. Religious conservatives in the U.S. (quite rightly) envy countries like Poland, with its Church-backed laws against Sunday trading. Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, voluntarily closes its doors on the Sabbath so its workers can spend time with their families—and at a considerable loss to their bottom line: the company might bring in $13 billion a year if they didn’t rest on the seventh day, instead of the measly $10.5 billion it scrapes together now.
And, of course, they’ve boldly defied the LGBT lobby for years by donating to the Salvationists (which, by the way, is a Protestant sect—not a charity, as many news outlets claim). Their first store in the United Kingdom was even shut down by rainbow mafiosos immediately after it opened last month. The company maintains that its choice to stop supporting the Salvos and the FCA had nothing to do with pressure from Homintern, which is some consolation. Yet this completely disinterested and selfless decision should also help them grow beyond their poultry—excuse me, paltry—2,363 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Not a bad deal, that.
Why, then, did they do it? In a statement to Business Insider, a representative for Chick-fil-A explained that the company was acting on a “higher calling”: “to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be.” If progressives believe that, they may as well roll themselves in flour and hop into the Fryolator.
The first half of that statement is evidence enough that they’re talking through their hot, buttery buns. Never mind their meaningless notion of “community”—a phrase the gay lobby is very fond of, because it make it sound like they’re united by something other than a preference for bedmates of the same sex. Adolf Hitler was “relevant” to post-war Germany; the Enola Gay was “impactful” in Nagasaki.
You want relevance? Name a more ironic symbol of Christmas charity than the man in the Santa hat ringing his little bell outside the mall, asking shoppers to drop their change into his red bucket. You want impactful? The Salvation Army’s charitable wing is one of the most highly rated benevolent organizations on the planet. There’s no question of “relevance” or “impactfulness.” That’s corporate doublespeak for: “We wanted to sell more stuff.”
And you know what? Fair enough. That’s what businesses do. Yet it was we who crowned them “God’s Chicken.” We gave them the very moral authority they’re now exercising on behalf of the LGBTQWERTY mob. Let the Right reap what it sows. Let us hatch what we lay.
Of course, the neoliberals who decried the Left’s “chicken McCarthyism” are the same folks who used to argue that, if you don’t like a business’s practices, you ought to simply “vote with your wallet” and shop somewhere else. It’s pure hypocrisy. Antifa didn’t firebomb Chick-fil-A’s restaurants. Her Majesty’s government didn’t lock the UK branch’s staff in the Tower or transport them to Australia. Progressives simply chose to eat elsewhere, and occasionally exercised their right to free assembly by protesting outside certain locations. Chick-fil-A caved to their demands because they feared, not for their bottoms, but for their bottom lines.
Now conservatives are saying they’ll refuse to eat at Chick-fil-A. Will those neoliberals call these disaffected consumers “chicken McCarthyites,” too? Of course not. That was never anything but a bit of rhetorical pyrotechnics—a cheap ploy to pretend conservatives still have some skin in the game of consumer capitalism.
Corporations don’t care about us and they’re not our friends. This has been the most difficult lesson conservatives have had to learn, yet we apparently still haven’t learned it. We’ve spent the better part of a century lobbying for corporate tax cuts in the name of trickle-down economics. We’ve campaigned tirelessly for bailouts of big businesses and big banks. We’ve excommunicated protectionists like Patrick J. Buchanan and Donald J. Trump from the conservative movement for trying to protect blue-collar Americans from having their jobs outsourced to the Third World or having their wages gouged by competition from South American immigrants. Now look where it’s gotten us.
We shouldn’t be surprised. An economic system predicated on paying transient workers a minimal salary to sell cheap, mass-produced goods in order to make large profits for a small group of executives is fundamentally un-conservative. Expecting corporations to promote family values when they don’t even pay a family wage is just absurd. If the heads of Chick-fil-A really cared about strengthening the traditional family, they wouldn’t work for Chick-fil-A.
Another word for “woke capitalism” is—capitalism. This is why Senator Marco Rubio’s “common good capitalism” simply isn’t enough. If conservatism is to have any future, it must be anti-capitalist—if only because capitalists are anti-conservative.
Lo! Some young Actonite has just thrown The Wealth of Nations through my window. And look—there’s a brick tied to it.
The phrase “anti-capitalism” is a godsend to these people. Every time we get them on the ropes, just when they’re about to go down for the count, we deliver (what we think will be) this final blow. Suddenly the light returns to their eyes. Then comes the fatal counterattack. The neoliberal straightens up, crosses his arms, and chirrups: “But if no capitalism, how vaccines smartphone avocados Amazon Prime?”
All right, fine. But if we can’t oppose the so-called free market, can we at least agree to stop greasing its wheels? If we can’t be anti-capitalist, can we at least be un-capitalist?
For instance, Republicans are up at arms about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s attempt to break up large tech companies like Facebook in order to prevent (among other things) the proliferation of “fake news.” Many of my fellow Catholics have quoted Benedict XVI’s remarks for the 47th World Communications Day in 2013, where he called the internet “the new agora.” And he may be right, in a sense. Diogenes used to walk around the old agora naked, defecating on the streets and masturbating on public benches while shouting obscenities at passersby. The new agora is like a mirror image of the old. It’s a swollen throng of Diogeneses, with a couple of normal people trying to push through the vile masses as they go about their grocery shopping. Behold: the blessings of liberty!
This is why the liberal conservatives, with their consumer-capitalist mindset, will ultimately fail. They will turn yet another multi-billion-dollar corporation into a martyr for the First Amendment. Ordinary, commonsensical Americans will then look around and say, “If this is democracy, then I must be a Stalinist.” If Senator Warren wants to send Mark Zuckerberg to the internet’s gulag, blow him a kiss and wish him a safe journey.
I’m not talking about state action. I’m talking about voluntarily withdrawing from consumer capitalism. Instead of fighting to reclaim the global economy, reinvest in the local economy—and better yet, the home economy. Abandon the new agora of Amazon and eBay; do your shopping at independent grocers and independent clothiers. Instead of ripping on Chick-fil-A like a jealous ex-boyfriend, rally around the family table. Don’t meet up with friends on Facebook; gather around the hearth.
Think of it like the BDS movement, but for right-wingers. Boycott, divest, and sanction the modern world.
Michael Warren Davis is editor of Crisis Magazine. Read more at www.michaelwarrendavis.com.