Friday, July 30, 2010

On Target

I've been thinking a lot lately about the growing divide in the U.S., the so-called culture wars that rage. The latest salvo fired--OK, it does seem like there are bombardments all over the country every day--is the Target dust-up.

Target (now included in the definition of "person" according to the Supreme Court) gave a donation to the Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota, Tom Emmer. Emmer is very out-spoken in his opposition to issues of concern to gay rights groups. As a result of this donation, gay rights groups are calling for a boycott of Target.

Wait, it gets more complicated. Target has a long history of being "unwavering" (the word Target's CEO used) in its support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers.

So, here we have a company donating to a candidate for governor who opposes the rights of workers that said company is unwavering in support of. Huh?

What's a person to do?

One mother has made her decision. Randi Reitan, the mother of a gay son, decided on a one-woman protest. You can see what her response was

When I first read her story, I felt the tugging of boycotts long past. It's been a while since I boycotted a national company. There was the
grapes boycott, in support of farm workers; there was the boycott of Nestlé . This latter one REALLY got complicated when you started following the string of who owned whom and was affiliated with whom. Talk about multi-national intertwining of corporate interests.

I posted the link of Randi Reitan's response on Facebook with a note that I too would be boycotting Target for a time. Well, I got two responses--one from a dear cousin who posted the EXACT same link and indicated that "Let Target know you DO NOT support this boycott, but rather SUPPORT them in their decision to donate to Tom Emmer's campaign!! I typically don't get involved in these issues, but I believe it's time we LET OUR VOICES BE HEARD!!"

I also got a note from a FB friend who pointed out Target's long-standing commitment to supporting gay and lesbian rights.

Wow--so complicated.

Then I wondered--was this what it was like pre-Civil War. No, I am not issuing dire warnings that that is where we are headed. But, I do ponder--have we become so schizophrenic on some of these issues that we meet ourselves coming and going. Is it possible to hold civil dialogue on such issues? Can we find common ground anywhere?

I do wish that the media would enable such dialogue. I am a strong supporter of a
free press in part because that can foster dialogue. But what do we get instead? Angry voices pushing harder to have us face-off.

I could have used the recent Shirley Sherrod incident as an example. That sad episode illustrates painfully how quickly we rush to judgment without bothering to dig for all the facts.

Where does that leave me? Confused. Saddened. Numbed. Will I boycott Target? Still thinking on this point. Ultimately what matters to me is whether my action does more good than harm.

Oh yeah--it's complicated.


Peruby said...

I agree, it sure IS complicated. I go to and search under Target Stores - it seems to give accurate data. But, who CAN you believe these days?

Ruth said...

It is difficult to boycott everything that causes injustice in the world. Fair trade... child labour... prisoner labour in China... the list goes on and on and includes far bigger issues than American political infighting. I try to avoid "made in China" labels, cheap imported manufactured goods, etc and rarely step into big stores like Walmart (we don't have Target in Canada) Our world is very complex.

NCmountainwoman said...

No doubt about that. The media are definitely much more interested in angry face-offs than meaningful dialogues. Sadder still, that's what viewers and readers want. Thank goodness we still have Jim Lehrer and the News Hour, and PBS. They do indeed still hold civil dialogue. And we still have some excellent print journalists who give us insight rather than rage and some gray rather than black and white.

While not specifically boycotting, I choose not go to Target, Wal-mart, K-Mart simply because they come in and pull customers from local businesses.

possumlady said...

It is a difficult issue. I have always liked Target. Being a Minnesota corporation, plus financially, I need their lower prices. Would love to patronize local businesses but their higher costs make it difficult.

The thing that I'm still ticked off about regarding Target is their decision a few years ago to not allow Salvation Army bell ringers outside their stores. I know they give a good chunk of change to them and other charities but honestly, I love the bell ringers and they are fewer and fewer of them. It's just not the holiday season without hearing them. The ringers are all volunteers and they are never in your face like the girl scouts who take up shop outside my grocery store and as soon as you leave the store, all run up screaming DO YOU WANT TO BUY SOME GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!!!! Now, THAT, I can do without. Yes, I am a curmudgeon.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

There are few issues that are clear cut. We most often are making decisions on the basis of relative evils.

My brother in law was an executive with Nestlés back in the day of the protests over baby formula. At the same time my sister (the professional breast feeder) was very active with LaLeché League, even traveling to Botswana and Japan to teach breast feeding. Their marriage survived as they agreed to disagree.

It is worrisome to see your Nation so thoroughly divided in such fundamental ways over virtually every issue.

Nance said...

I think it's to be expected that large corporations will now support the candidates who oppose regulation, oppose unions, and are pro free market functions across the board. In this economy, Walmart and Target are go-to for price and are benefiting from this economy...which means they are employing people. Walmart is a target-rich environment for boycott and now so is Target. I don't wonder you're still thinking; my head's about to explode!

Good work on this post.

Anvilcloud said...

Target has never made it to Canada as far as I know, so I have no dilemma. Thank goodness.

Ginnie said...

I agree with Philip (Tossing Pebbles) that our nation seems to be divided over everything. I keep wanting to shout "grow up, America" and put all this silly squabling behind us. We need to unite for the good but it appears that prejudices are everywhere & noone wants to give an inch !
Whatever happened to old fashiond diplomacy???

Mary Lee said...

Weird, isn't it. Everything has to be all black or all white these days and people who do their own thinking find that's rarely the case.

Looks like we live closer together than we thought--the State of Confusion!

Liza Lee Miller said...

Dang it. I just wrote out a long and thoughtful response and it got lost in the ether. Sigh.

Suffice it to say, I'm still very conflicted. My sister summed it up nicely . . . "Right Hand, meet the left hand."

Political pun intended.

And, no, I still don't know if I'll go take advantage of their sale on folders. I need them for my classroom and they are cheaper than anywhere else.

Justify. Justify. Justify.

JeanMac said...

Well, this post got me thinking! Not sure what I'd do if I were in the States.