No one knows when the Chick-Fil-A drama will finally run its course, but when trying to discern what it tells us about American culture, it’s a mixed bag. You can argue, as commentator and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan did, that the news is bad—“ If intolerance is a mark of rising faiths and movements, the news is not good,” Buchanan opined.
Indeed, the gay rights movement in the United States is about as intolerant a movement as there is in American politics. It brooks no dissent whatsoever, choosing to see no difference in an Islamic world where homosexuals are unjustly executed and those like the Cathy Family, who simply don’t believe in same-sex marriage. It’s the sort of intolerance that works when one is well-financed, as the gay rights movement most definitely is. This is a movement which manages to have Hollywood foursquare behind it, yet still pass itself off as persecuted and oppressed.
But there’s a flip side to all this. While the intolerance of the movement is real, it’s important for believes in traditional marriage to not get carried away with playing the victim card. After all, victims wouldn’t have drawn a huge turnout of solidarity to Chick-Fil-A outlets around the country last Wednesday. Victims wouldn’t have had even liberals like Whoopi Goldberg back up the right of the Cathy Family to speak.
Let’s take it one step further—Chick-Fil-A sponsors a significant college football game, one that bears its name and holds a status just one notch below the sport’s top-level bowl games. A friend who attended the game one year told me they open the game with a prayer.
The lesson to all this is to stay optimistic. The intolerance is real, and should be contested at every turn. For without the solidarity movements of those who ate at Chick-Fil-A, or those who protested in other ways, one might overstate the power of the militant left-wing activists.
Politics is a world where power is gained by manifesting grievances. Those that seek office raise money and win elections by exploiting them. Grass-roots activists win arguments and make themselves feel superior to others by self-righteously overstating them. A healthy view of politics will balance the problems and the possibilities. The Chick-Fil-A saga brought out many of the former, but the response also showcased the latter.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com