Politics & Policy

Chick-fil-A and the Totalitarian Temptation

Small dictators lurk inside far too many Democrats.

‘I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.”

If you dislike that comment, you will hate this one: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian . . . it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

Such divisive, bigoted words surely were spat like venom by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, right?


President Barack Obama uttered the first statement on October 27, 2010. Candidate Obama made the second remark to Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., on August 17, 2008.

The Chick-fil-A flap just grows more bizarre from here. This needless controversy illustrates how thoroughly unhinged the American Left has become and exposes the totalitarian temptation that stirs just beneath the thin skins of too many Democrats.

Cathy’s interview in the July 16 Baptist Press triggered this brouhaha.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” He also told radio host Ken Coleman: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

Cathy’s words exploded as if he had told gays to stay the hell out of his restaurants. Cathy said no such thing.

As a gay-marriage supporter, I disagree with Cathy. If Jack and Frank seek marital bliss, let them have it. Government should privatize marriage and let voluntary institutions marry or not marry people, as they wish.

While I differ with Cathy, however, his views are neither extreme nor medieval. Indeed, on May 8, they mirrored Obama’s definition of marriage. That was the day before Obama parroted Vice President Biden and endorsed gay marriage. Obama instantly “evolved” and told ABC News on May 9: “It is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Cathy is being excoriated as a homophobic Neanderthal while just four months ago Obama’s position on gay marriage was equally prehistoric.

Rather than combat this year’s 39 percent spike in homicides in his town, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel pole-vaulted into this fracas.

“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel declared. If that’s true, Obama similarly lacked Chicago values while Emanuel was his chief of staff. Evidently, that did not bother Emanuel at the time.

Other Democrats have not limited themselves to rebuking Cathy. Instead, they have abused their power by threatening or applying government force to sandbag Chick-fil-A — the First Amendment be damned.

“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult,” Mayor Thomas Menino (D., Boston) roared last month.

Mayor Vincent Gray (D., Washington, D.C.) called Chick-fil-A “hate chicken” and opposes its expansion in America’s capital.

Alderman Proco Joe Moreno (D., Chicago) promised to bar the company from his constituency. He told the Chicago Tribune: “Because of this man’s [Cathy’s] ignorance, I will now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward.”

“We don’t want you here,” city-council speaker Christine Quinn (D., New York City) snapped. Also, on official stationery, she wrote New York University president John Sexton and pressed him to expel Gotham’s only Chick-fil-A outlet.

“I urge you to sever your relationship with the Chick‐fil‐A establishment that exists on your campus,” Quinn wrote on July 28. She added: “I appreciate your university’s long history of celebrating diversity. I urge you to join with me in ensuring that our city does not become a place where those who do not share our commitment, have any place to espouse those views [emphasis added].”

Such coercion should terrify every American.

Will there now be a pro-gay-marriage litmus test for anyone who works at Boston’s City Hall or New York’s Municipal Building? Imagine that Chicago pays a contractor to remove asbestos from city-owned buildings. One day, he casually mentions that he opposes gay marriage. Will Mayor Emanuel decry that contractor’s “hate” and cancel his contract? How many government workers and contractors in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., now will not even discuss gay marriage for fear of saying something politically incorrect and then suffering public attack and economic ruin?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I., New York City), who almost fetishistically sticks government’s fingers into New Yorkers’ soft drinks and breast milk, showed admirable restraint on this issue.

“You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city,” Bloomberg said last week. “You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit, that’s just not government’s job,” he added.

“Freedom of speech — everybody’s in favor of it as long as it’s what they want to hear,” Bloomberg continued. “Well the only way that you have your freedom of speech is if you give other people freedom of speech.”

Of course, if people ignore Bloomberg’s advice, this easily could become a two-way street. What if Elton John — a gay man committed to David Furnish — attempts to perform in a socially conservative community — say, Tulsa, Oklahoma? If city officials decide that Elton John violates “Tulsa values,” can they stop him from rocking a municipal arena?

Starbucks supports gay marriage. Could a pro-Chick-fil-A backlash prompt a Bible Belt mayor to block Starbucks from his city?

Gay activists could encourage people to patronize Starbucks or simply avoid Chick-fil-A. That’s not good enough. Instead, some on August 3 will stage a National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chicks-fil-A nationwide.

Painting heretofore relaxed straight people into a sexual corner is no way to engender gay-friendliness. How would gay activists like to see social conservatives deploy squadrons of husbands and wives to penetrate gay bars and commence male-female lip-locking?

This fiasco confirms the intolerance of the supposedly “open-minded” American Left. Rather than simply dispute or debate Cathy, they immediately pilloried him and vilified those who share his traditionalist outlook.

Far more chilling, major Democratic politicians reflexively grabbed the instruments of power to bludgeon Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A. The scariest lesson here is that small dictators lurk inside far too many Democrats.

 New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News Contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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