We live in an unfortunate age of manufactured outrage and faux indignation.
Several recent episodes make that abundantly clear. And they also show why the American public, increasingly, is so disillusioned with their country’s politics that they’ve tuned out and turned over control to the fringes.
First, of course, was the folderol over Chick-Fil-A.
Did the restaurant chain’s chief operating officer say homosexuals are condemned to a fiery hell? Did he put on a hood, light a cross and hang someone?
No. In an interview with Baptist Press, Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.
“We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
The apoplectic outrage then began, with various organizations and the usual celebrities howling that Cathy and his company are “anti-gay bigots” and “homophobes” and demanding boycotts. Foul-minded Roseanne Barr said people who eat Chick-Fil-A should get cancer.
All that from a simple statement of very-traditional Christian beliefs. Not so many years ago, those comments wouldn’t have even earned a shrug. Now it’s cause for accusations of bigotry?
As happens in virtually every such case, the manufactured outrage from the left toppled under the weight of its own absurdity. In the backlash, today unofficially has been named Chick-Fil-A Day, with supporters of traditional marriage (warts and all) being encouraged to visit the restaurant today. I have a feeling the lines will be long.
Want to take it a step further? Years ago, in a Sunday school class, I pointed out that it borders on hypocritical for Christians to praise Chick-Fil-A for their policy of being closed on Sunday as they drive past the restaurant after church and eat at the fast-food place next door.
If you really want to put your money where your mouth is, don’t just sing empty praise for Chick-Fil-A’s policy while spending your Sunday lunch money with a competitor. Go home and eat.
More over-the-top howling, albeit in slow motion, began when Lee Anderson sent out a mailer criticizing two of his opponents in the District 12 congressional race.
The piece compared Anderson, on several issues, with Rick Allen and Wright McLeod (ignoring Maria Sheffield; maybe he’s sexist, too). Anderson’s campaign paid for the mailer, so naturally the comparisons all favored Anderson.
One of the items was “Public Service,” and listed offices in which Anderson had served while noting neither Allen nor McLeod has been in elected office.
The outrage took a while to work up, mostly because, undoubtedly, McLeod’s campaign didn’t have an angle for cobbling it together. They found one by accusing Anderson of claiming military service isn’t public service, and thereby disrespecting McLeod’s 20 years in the Navy and, by extension, the military service of everyone since George Washington.
And, of course, countering with ads indignantly demanding an apology from Anderson. Because nothing says “my feelings are fragile” like yelling at someone to tell you they’re sorry.
Good grief. Part of the political game? Of course it is. But why do we continue to let politicians and their operatives get away with it? Why do we reward hyperbolic campaign mailers and ads designed to make candidates look like saints and their opponents like Satan?
More likely, we reward them all, negatively, when the disinterested middle turns away altogether, leaving decisions up to hard-core political operatives and partisan junkies on the extremes.
Is that really who we want to run our country? If so, we’re in bigger trouble than any election can solve.
Maybe all those politicians and political loudmouths should eat more chicken. With a side of get over yourself.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)