By Al Lim, Yale-NUS College ’19 – See bio
“Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.” –Mahatma Gandhi
Are Conservatives at it again, emphatically criticizing the liberals for boycotting Chick-Fil-A? Or, are the liberals now showing their intolerance and “double-speak”? There has been much cross-fire but little resolution. My news feed on Facebook and timeline on Twitter have been flooded by the accusations of each side being hypocrites in their own smart-alecky fashion. The recent debacle surrounding Dan Cathy’s Atlanta-based company is centered on his statements regarding the “biblical definition of a family”.
The Liberal Reaction
Following Cathy’s statements, Jim Henson Co. announced that it would no longer make the toys for Chick-Fil-A meals, thousands of people have signed online petitions (change.org), and organizations such as Equality Illinois have arranged for “same-sex kiss-ins” across the country. Seven universities have considered removing Chick-Fil-A from their campuses, citing their interest in preserving a non-hostile atmosphere.
The mayors of Boston and Chicago, Thomas M. Menino and Rahm Emanuel, vowed to block Chick-Fil-A opening in their cities. Liberals have criticized Chick-Fil-A for their public funding of “hate” organizations through the WinShape Foundation. “Freedom for me, but not for thee” is how some liberals describe fundamentalism. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, recently donated $2.5 million to defend and promote gay marriage – Starbucks, Nike, and Bill Gates have pledged their support as well.
The Conservative Reaction
Conversely, Conservatives have launched a counter-reaction. Mike Huckabee has posted at length of the innocence of Chick-Fil-A in affirming traditional business practices and Christian values. In addition he defends his stance in saying, “Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant.” He created “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”, advertised for August 1st, 2012, which he would like to go “viral”. Over 650,000 people have signed up.
The restaurant posted record sales on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day and Mike Huckabee posted “America ate chicken yesterday; Rahm Emanuel ate crow.” Might I mention the new “hate sauce” here. It might find some competition with the “Wing-n-nuts” to try to bite the conservative crowd, or conversely the “Chicken Bacon Bigotwich”.
Huckabee is not alone. Rick Santorum, George Faught, Jeff Duncan, Rich Hudson, Mick Mulvaney, Dan Patrick and Billy Graham showed public support for Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Sarah Palin herself published a photo with her husband at Chick-Fil-A after a speech promoting Ted Cruz in Texas.
In the political arena, Thomas Jefferson clearly stated in his “Wall of Separation” letter to the Danbury Church in Connecticut( 1802), “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
North Carolina’s Amendment One, which passed easily in May of this year, explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Its advocates cited the Bible as the inspiration for this. So if there should be a wall separating Church and State as promulgated by a staunch Christian and the forefather of America, then why are we relying on the opinions of religious leaders as Billy Graham with amending the Constitution which deliberately has allowed for freedom of religion?
Where do I stand?
Why has this become a bifurcation between Christian values and gay rights? The liberals and conservatives are not perfect. There have been extremists on each side that moderates take offence to. The mayors of Boston and Chicago should not use government authority to block out businesses whilst Rick Santorum conveniently used zoning laws to defend his stance with the Islamic center project but now is against them. The tide of politics turns fast and easily. Politicians and high profile figures should remember tact.
The First Amendment can be twisted to mean whatever you want it to mean—look, freedom of speech. However, there is not only a line where it may cross into the realm of defamation, but the lives of others. One may selectively look at the perspective that fits them and ignore the desperate cries of the victims. They are people too, aren’t they? Or are they a matter of convenience?
I do love my number one large meal: Chick-Fil-A original sandwich without pickles, fries with Chick-Fil-A or Polynesian sauce, and sweet tea. Incidentally this comes out to $6.66 in South Carolina. Moving on, I am a strong Christian and an independent. I am not suited to this constant bickering. This does not limit itself to Chick-Fil-A’s comments, but beyond. Politics is such, manipulating words and concepts to augment whatever your current stance is. And the dynamics will change, that hate sauce or bigotwich will probably morph into some other Frankenstein.
I have raised many questions, but my final one is simply this: have we retrogressed? There was no such thing as homophobia in ancient times including the ancient Greeks, Romans, Native Americans, Prehistoric Africans and more, and that was a while ago. As a society, these antiquated prejudices, that have been responsible for the breakup of civilizations and dynasties like in the Persian, Roman, Tang, Mongol to name a few, must be eliminated. Focus should go towards cultural connections and a global community in light of the digital age, not the opposite. I ask for introspection. In 2012, we should be educated enough to understand diplomacy before war.
N.B. My friend, Will Victor (Duke ’16), has written an excellent two-part piece on the same subject with a different take on it. Definitely worth checking out.
 Ted Cruz is running against Lt. Governor David Dewhurst