Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why we should NOT boycott Target stores



By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network


A dear friend of mine - a supporter of progressive causes - is wondering if she should jump on the newly launched boycott Target stores bandwagon because of the company's $150,000 contribution to an organization that supports the campaign of a Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota. And she wonders why Target hasn't responded to the allegations that it is anti-gay.

Not only should she not join the boycott - but Target has answered the allegations (more on that in a minute).

Target made a campaign contribution to an organization that supports Tom Emmer, a Republican candidate for governor who opposes same-sex marriages. It's fair enough to criticize this but to make the quantum leap that it's proof Target is anti-gay - as some gay groups who have joined the boycott organized by MoveOn.org contend - is blatantly unfair.

Target has a reputation for supporting progressive ideals. It supports local schools, food pantries and is - hold onto your seats! - a financial contributor to the Twin Cities' annual gay pride parade!

Target's CEO says the corporation's political contributions - like those of so many other companies who are tossing money at campaigns since the Supreme Court stupidly ruled they could - are strategic to their business interests. Most of these corporations - by the way - hedge their political bets by contributing to both campaigns.

Here's what the CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, told the LA Times:

"Let me be very clear: Target's support of the [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company."

MoveOn, which launched the boycott Target petition drive, is trying to couch this as an anti-corporations making political contributions effort. But the fact that they chose this particular contribution to this particular candidate was strategic on MoveOn's part. It was a successful attempt to raise the concerns of people who support gay rights. Which has become the overriding issue here. Some people actually mistakenly believe that Target is being - targeted - because of anti-gay hiring practices!

The message that was delivered to my friend was that Target is anti-gay. Which, evidence to the contrary proves, it is not.

MoveOn, of course knows all this. The organization is only trying to create a name for itself at the expensive of the company. And is, in the process, creating angst for those of us who want to do the right thing.

Like Breitbart, who was loose with the facts about Shirley Sherrod in order to make a political point, MoveOn has just slipped to the near bottom of my credibility meter.

I'd say MoveOn owes Target an apology. But really, that's not enough.

It owes my friend - and the rest of us - one as well.

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Photo: Jay Reed under Creative Commons license

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