Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Boycotting Target and Best Buy

I'm not big on boycotts. In my opinion, they seldom work on a national or international level any longer. Because Minnesota has some very strict laws about financial disclosure in political campaigns, we know that the CEO of Target, Gregg Steinhafel, donated $150,000 to a pro-business Minnesota political action committee which in turn has given financial support to GOP candidate for Minnesota governor, Tom Emmer. Pretty tenuous connection so far, eh? Gregg even went so far as to write a letter to the employees of Target Stores stating that Target's support for its employees who are Gay and Lesbian is "unwavering." That's nice to hear. Even better to hear is that Target doesn't just "talk the talk," but also "walks the walk."

"In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company. Some current examples of that support include:

• Domestic Partner Benefits

• Sponsorship of Twin Cities Pride

• Sponsorship of Minnesota AIDS Walk

In addition, Target’s rating of 100% on the 2009 and 2010 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index further demonstrates the reputation our company has earned.

Why then is there so much anger at Target in the Gay and Lesbian community at one of our corporate success stories? A closer examination of Tom Emmer is necessary to understand why Gays and Lesbians might feel betrayed by Gregg's indifference to Gay Rights.  Emmer isn't just against same-sex marriage, he is passionately obsessed by it.   Emmer is a male Minnesota version of Sarah Palin.  There's no subject which he cannot reduce to a simplistic jingo.  Emmer has "positions are jarringly reactionary for a state where even the right prides itself on some degree of progressiveness."  He thinks the U.S.Constitution guarantees you the right to smoke tobacco, but not the right to control your own body, as in abortion.  No surprise there, eh?

So again, why should Gays and Lesbians be bothered by Gregg Steinhafel's contribution to the PAC Minnesota Forward which in turn supports Tom Emmer?  Since this contribution came to light, it's also been disclosed that Gregg and his wife both gave the maximum personal donation to Emmer's campaign, and also maxed out contributions to Michele Bachman, ol' miss crazy eyes.

While I have  no intention of boycotting Target, I don't think I'll go shopping there anytime in the near future.  Same with Best Buy.  Both corporations are exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech according to the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution by the Roberts' Court, a concept our founding fathers would probably find ludicrous, and I'm all for free speech.  I am not, however, inclined to give my money to corporations which support nativist Do-Nothings.  It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

As for explaining his donation as being simply "pro-business," I'd like to remind Gregg that "Mussolini may have done many brutal and tyrannical things; he may have destroyed human freedom in Italy; he may have murdered and tortured citizens whose only crime was to oppose Mussolini; but 'one had to admit' one thing about the Dictator: he 'made the trains run on time.'”  (Ashley Montague and Edward Darling writing tongue in cheek in The Ignorance of Certainty, 1970)