Taking it into my head to go to the local Chick-fil-A last Wednesday was another one of those odd things, like getting involved in the Tea party which happened because of a friend. In this case, a purely on-line friend; the friend who inveigled me into attending an early San Antonio Tea Party planning committee meeting was a blog-friend whom I had actually met on a couple of social occasions, so when he said, ‘Hey, we need someone to write press releases and stuff, and you’re a writer and you were a broadcaster, so can ya?’ And being a stubborn independent libertarian-conservative sort, it seemed like a good idea. That the planned event very shortly turned into an all-Texas blow-out with 15,000 to maybe as many as 20,000 in attendance … well, I didn’t have anything much to do with that … I just kept my head down and sent out the press releases and made myself available for local media interviews.
So, I got caught up in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day in the same manner, when Sarah Hoyt, another writer-blogger (who is in favor of same-sex marriage) wrote a long post condemning at length the way the militant pro-same-sex marriage advocates were going about it. She held that ganging up on Chick-fil-A was an appallingly bad move, being based upon not much at all save a mild remark by the president of the firm regarding favoring traditional marriage in an interview published in an relatively obscure denominational publication. She predicted that this would alienate and infuriate people across the political spectrum, and that it would backfire hugely … which seems to have been the case. It is only fitting that she would be a writer of science fiction, a genre which lends a boost to ones’ powers of accurate prophecy.
I wonder myself if the better than huge turn-out in support of Chick-fil-A isn’t at least as much of a cultural seismic shock as the various Tea Party gatherings in 2009 were to the political arena. Certainly there was the same air of friendly cheerfulness and purpose about the other customers in the Chick-fil-A outlet where I went on August 1 as I remember from the first huge Alamo Plaza Tea Party rally. No kidding – it was a fun gathering, like the world’s biggest and happiest block party. There were whole families there – and it was as if the plaza was full of good friends whom you had never met before. So was the Chick-fil-A; and from the comments and posted reports on the internet it was pretty much like that all over. The illusion that it was some kind of grotesque grotesque and hateful mass exercise in gay-bashing must be difficult to maintain, in the face of so many actual participants who saw nothing of the sort. Just so the Tea Partiers were constantly accused of being dumb, disorganized, violent red-necked racists. This meme was so constantly pushed by mainstream media over the last three years – against considerable evidence to the contrary as well as the experience of actual participants – that a good portion of the public now readily believes the worst of the Tea Party. It goes without saying, such is the weary cynicism of experience, that the mainstream news organs of course painted the militant gay advocates who responded to Support Chick-fil-A Day in the most favorable colors, in spite of vandalism, harassment and generally distasteful conduct … just as the Occupy Whatever Street activists had breathlessly positive press in spite of turning their various occupied locations into unsanitary, lawless and repellant hellholes. I’m not even surprised by this tendency on the part of the mainstream media any more.
It is interesting that this all happened just as the self-organized, social-media savvy Tea Party adherents are managing to elect more and more fiscally-responsible, free-market favorable strict Constitutionalists into political office. I disagree with those commenters who hold that the Chick-Fil-A thing was brief distraction from the series matters at hand; this might be one of those huge turning points. The chain may be just another national fast-food outlet – but their local franchise owners are deeply-embedded in their communities, where apparently they do a lot of quiet good works, and are looked upon favorably by loyal customers, and their employees. To cynically and carelessly malign and insult them, just as the Tea Party is maligned and insulted is every bit as much a blunder as Sarah suggested. Beware the cold anger of quiet and patient people who have been pushed once too many times. Those who stood patiently in line for hours for a chicken sandwich and waffle fries to make a point will also be standing in line to vote in November. Depend on it.
(cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)