Essay / Culture

The Wrong Thing at the Wrong Time

Does Target dislike traditional Christians?Probably not. I doubt anyone thought very much about banning the Salvation Army from Target Stores. Most decisions like this are made by people with lots of binders on their shelves. These binder people have done studies and generated models. They are the sort of people who believed Kerry had to win because a Princeton mathematician told them so.Target does some good charitable deeds. Someone made a powerpoint presentation while other people sat with glazed eyes around the boardroom. It had a title like, “Impact of Charitable Giving on Target and a Re-Positioning of Community Involvement Opportunities.” Comments were made. Motions were passed. Most of the world’s stupid decisions are made this way.Whether Target likes it or not, forty percent (or so) of the population feels that their values, even their existence are under assault. Lately the media has called them theocrats, stupid, and trailer trash. They give more of their income to charity than any other group, certainly more than secularists who are Scrooges with their money. In that climate Target bans a group that does nothing but good. They ban an evangelical group so deeply part of Christmas that most of us cannot see a bell ringer without hearing carols. Target profits from the Holidays, but forgets that for almost all Americans they are Holy Days.So group made sensitive by weeks of old media tongue lashings is striking back. Just as Disney has transformed itself from the Family’s Favorite Film Maker to unfeeling Giant that is Less Clever than Pixar so Target risks becoming the store of least resort for forty percent of the population. And what have they gained?This is bad timing and probably no one is much to blame. Now is the time for leadership, for a CEO without a binder, who says, “We blew it.” and restores the bell ringers. Such a man would become an instant folk hero and the positive p.r. would make the whole debacle almost worth it for Target.Or the binder people could convince the CEO that it will all blow over. These are the same people who convinced the CEO that there be no stir, or not much of a stir, in the first place. There is a man, a real man, somewhere at the top of the land of the Binder People. Isn’t it time he made our Christmas merry so we could say without shame, “God bless him and his store, every one?”

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