Joe Mirabella

We got so excited we forgot we were mad at Target

Filed By Joe Mirabella | August 06, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: boycotts, Citizens United, prop 8 decision, Target

As I cautioned in a post last week, and again on the Michaelangelo Signorlie Show on Tuesday, the LGBT and progressive communities should not call for boycotts unless they intend to follow through with them.target-logo-2.jpg

Americans have attention deficit disorder, and it does not take much for us to feign interest in a crisis. For the Haiti earthquake, interest ended right after the Super Bowl. For the BP oil gusher, interest died down after it was capped.

Both disasters still remain a great threat to human life, yet the national conversation has moved on.

Maybe some of you are still passively changing your shopping habits. But what is abundantly clear, the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger ruling completely changed the online and water cooler conversations. In fact, the ruling was the best thing to happen to Target since Citizens United.

A simple Google Updates search shows us that people have significantly slowed the conversation about the $150,000 donation Target made to MN Forward, which ultimately benefited vehemently anti-gay Emmer.

You probably don't have to look any further than your own Facebook stream to see what I'm talking about. Our community has moved on. Target is going to get let off the hook as time goes on.

The PR backlash against Target, and more quietly against Best Buy, was clearly heard by Target's CEO Gregg Steinhafel. So much so that he finally issued this apology to Target employees and shoppers:

While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry...

...The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.

According to Talking Points Memo, Target plans to change the way it will give money to political campaigns in the future:

The head of the Target Corporation is now taking the amazing step of apologizing for the company's financial support of Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor in the company's home state of Minnesota, after coming under fire from gay rights activists.

And in a further sign of how tricky corporate political spending can actually be in practice in the post-Citizens United world, the company will also set up a review process for any future political donations.

So he apologized, and Target plans to change its vetting process, and the LGBT community is busy enjoying a well-deserved celebration.

Yet like the BP oil gusher that still pollutes the Gulf, or the earthquake aftermath that is still killing in Haiti, our politics remain in crisis. Citizen's United has opened the flood gates for unlimited corporate financial influence on our elections. Target has not said that they will cease their participation in politics, they will simply change how they decide who to give to.

In an interview, I recorded with with Congressman Jim McDermott (D - WA) that will air on Same Sex Sunday this weekend, he said about Citizens United, "No other issue scares me more."

I agree, and what scares me most about Citizens United is that to counter the effect on our politics, we will have to remain relentlessly engaged in ways that are counterintuitive to American culture. We will have to continually monitor and respond to unfavorable corporate influence. We will have to volunteer and contribute to progressive candidates with more dedication than ever before. Perhaps most importantly, we can not become distracted by even the most exciting news.


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Someone wrote in this week to say:

Message: Gays...PLEASE boycott target....I want to keep shopping there

So I'm grateful that our message was heard & understood in the straight community too. *sighs*

This whole Target kerfluffle should be a wake up call for our community as to why Citizens United is a disaster every LGBT should be up in arms about. The fact is, the majority of "pro-growth" and anti-tax/regulation politicians are also anti-LGBT. Yes, there are exceptions - Ron Paul comes to mind - but by and large, more money going to pro-corporate politicians is going to mean more money going to anti-LGBT politicians. Not good news for us...

Instead of boycotting, I was hoping queers would go to Target and hold hands and kiss (tastefully) and just make the straight customers uncomfortable. They don't have to buy anything, although it probably wouldn't hurt to pick up a can of pepper spray for the walk back to the car.

DaveinNorthridge | August 6, 2010 7:50 PM

well, as much as I love Target, I'm doing all my Target shopping at CVS, Marshall's, Fry's and any number of local supermarkets now, and I'll continue to do so until Target comes up with a much better explanation. I'm sorry you had to put up with wingnut comments, Bil.

I think that maybe an important first step may be happening one that we should pay attention to and foster.Big business needs are best addressed by Conservatives but Big business also needs consumers some of which are LGBT.Big business and business owners are major campaign contributors to the Republican Party.We should maybe not put pressure on them to quit giving money to Conservatives but instead ask them to put pressure on them about their social views.I could care less if it is Democrats or Republicans that pass civil rights legislation for lGBT Americans just that they get passed.Using the carrot and stick approach with Republicans might help in getting them to quit using the Harmful anti gay rhetoric and from proposing Draconian anti gay laws.

Our community, and perhaps no community (except of course, for the political community), can be engaged by politics. The Target boycott was a political conversation. But politics is a meta-conversation. It is not engaging to those who live on the ground.

Those who wish to have political effect must meet people where they live. Our advocacy will become effective for the majority of LGBT people when it stops being about individual events or politics and starts engaging people in their own lives.