Right Wing Watch posted an article yesterday about a boycott of The Gap and related stores by OneMillionMoms: AFA's OneMillionMoms Announces Boycott of The Gap for Billboard Featuring Gay Couple.
This got me to thinking about boycotts and how they can be abused. There is no doubt that boycotts can be effective. Organized efforts to contact advertisers for Glenn Beck resulted in his revenues plunging and his show being pulled from Fox. Similar efforts recently caused trouble for radio tyrant Rush Limbaugh.
In this case, we have a faction of the hate group - American Family Association - deliberately trying to bend a major retailer to their will by conducting a boycott campaign. Since I approved of the boycotts against Beck and Limbaugh, I can hardly oppose the OneMillionMoms (in their dreams) effort just because it is a boycott.
What concerns me is that the AFA is attempting to bully a major retailer into adopting policies that reflect the AFA's tortured perspective on right and wrong. The end result of such an effort is to force a corporation to adopt business practices based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity. If The Gap refuses to knuckle under, they stand to lose most of the business they would normally have from Christians (or so the AFA hopes). This is a powerful incentive to adopt practices that are themselves highly prejudiced and socially harmful, just to win the approval of this religious audience.
I wonder about the long-term consequences of boycotts like this. If businesses cannot profit or possibly even survive without catering to the bullying of special interest groups, will businesses be able to survive without taking sides? Will companies like The Gap have to have Christian-oriented branches and non-Christian branches just to reach all markets?
I think that the long-term consequence of a successful campaign like this will be to create a divided country: Christians (primarily fundamentalist and evangelical) versus everyone else. In fact, the rhetoric coming from the religious right already reflects this separation. But I don't see how this can possibly lend itself to a healthy culture.
Aside: I am reminded of a local business called Karate for Christ. Separation and egotism?
Because the AFA's boycott is based on a limited theology and the desire to force businesses to abide by it's theology, I have to consider this particular campaign to be an extreme form of bullying, perhaps even religious tyranny. Perhaps it is time to fight back by targeting the AFA as a hate group.