MacIntyre: Target blames extremism to avoid Bud Light’s fate
Op-ed by Auron MacIntyre May 25, 2023
Conservative boycotts have proven largely ineffective in the past, but Bud Light’s attempt to push LGBTQ propaganda on its customers has created a sustained backlash that has tanked company profits, and other corporations like Target have taken notice. The retailer has recently come under fire as it gears up for the new American Ramadan, also known as Pride Month, by featuring increasingly controversial LGBTQ-themed merchandise.
Along with the now-standard “Love Is Love” gear, Target is offering “tuck-friendly" bottoms used by transitionists to hide male genitalia while wearing female swimsuits. The swimsuit is manufactured by the company Abprallen, whose designer Eric Carnell is an avowed Satanist. Carnell has designed shirts emblazed with the slogan “Satan respects pronouns” and pins in the shape of a guillotine featuring the phrase “homophobe headrest.” According to multiple reports, the sudden attention caused Target leadership to hold an emergency meeting this week in hopes of avoiding a “Bud Light situation.”
As I explained in an early piece, Anheuser-Bush executives doomed themselves by taking a middle-of-the-road approach to their boycott. Executives trapped themselves between a conservative customer base and the woke mob, hoping to please both. Instead, they found themselves in an inescapable situation where attempting to please either side would be treated as an unacceptable concession by the other.
In this no-win scenario, the only thing Bud Light can do is watch its sales plummet and hope the controversy blows over. Target has put itself in a similar situation. The retailer does have a different core customer base than Bud Light, catering to middle- and upper-middle-class suburbanites who do not want to be caught shopping at Walmart. But like Anheuser-Bush, Target still relies heavily on red-state consumers to pad its bottom line and must, at least to some degree, be responsive to their tastes.
Target executives are aware of the dynamic that played out in the Bud Light boycott and have no desire to become trapped in the same way, so they devised a different plan for damage control.
The company announced that it will be reducing its Pride displays and moving them to the back of the store. A statement from the corporation specified that this will be more common in Southern states, where the backlash is expected to be more severe. To avoid the perception of giving a concession to conservative pressure, however, Target has released a statement blaming volatile circumstances and “threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being” as the motivation for the decision. No specifics were given about the nature or source of these alleged threats, but Target made sure to restate its commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and dedicated itself to celebrating Pride Month throughout the year.
This strategy allows Target to present a head-fake where it gives a minor concession to conservatives hoping to satisfy them. At the same time the company gets to turn to the LGBTQ mob and woke investors with a vague accusation of “violence” that allows executives to pretend they are doing this for safety reasons. Target needs to avoid a protracted battle with its customer base, but it also cannot be seen as giving deference to the concerns of the deplorables. Framing this as an issue of worker safety allows the company to make minor concessions while reinforcing the “violent and dangerous Christian extremism” stereotype the media has been investing in for the last few years.
And who knows, there may have actually been customers who acted rashly, but this has never been a problem for Target before. Multiple stores belonging to the retail chain were looted or vandalized during the BLM riots of 2020, but far from worrying about the safety and security of their employees, Target doubled down on its support for the rioters. Apparently concern for employee well-being is entirely dependent on the political affiliation.
As we get deeper into Pride Month, expect to see a lot more of this approach. Companies and organizations will use the new anti-grooming protections red states have put in place as cover to scale back the excesses of Pride displays that have become increasingly controversial. Make no mistake, this is not a retreat by woke activists, but instead a turning of the ratchet. Just a few years ago, people were outraged about the very idea of children being at a Pride event at all. These events were seen as a no-holds-barred Mardi Gras-style celebrations that were explicitly adult in nature. Now the dialectic has advanced to a discussion on how explicit Pride events can get while still being considered child-friendly.
Making predictions is always dangerous work, but there seems to be a pretty obvious path that this rhetorical game will take. The Biden administration will use the vague specter of “violent backlash,” dutifully advanced by the media, of course, as a justification to crack down on any real grassroots opposition to the LGBTQification of every cultural space. This backlash will be linked to “white nationalism,” which Joe Biden and his administration officials have repeatedly declared to be the most significant domestic threat to the country. If it strikes you as strange that some really tan neo-Nazis started showing up in the news this month, hopefully this will help you do the math. The media have also specifically pushed the term "Christian nationalism" for this reason. They wanted any resistance to wokeness or any suggestion that Christian values have a legitimate role to play in our nation’s social norms to be rhetorically linked to fascism.
Conservatives remained dormant in the culture war for far too long, but the direct attack on children launched by gender activists has awakened a sleeping giant. Steps are finally being taken by red states to stop this madness, and these legal protections present a threat to progressive hegemony.
Our ruling elites need to erode what remains of traditional morality and social structures because they compete with the power of the regime. Corporations and government institutions are eagerly working hand in hand to facilitate this hedonistic liquidation of traditional bonds through both legal and cultural means. Individual states creating effective regional barriers to this expansion of power threatens the agenda, and the central government will seek the means to crush it.
Corporations like Target will go along, feigning concern for the safety of their employees if that provides them political cover, but conservatives should not be dissuaded from continuing to apply pressure. States have every right to protect children from predation. Conservatives have every right not to hand their money to corporations that hate them. If the right cannot stand for these basic principles, then it stands for nothing at all.