Boycott Target?

Logo for Regret, the boycott of TargetUnless you have been in a coma recently, you probably know that retail company Target just gave over $150,000 to buy ads supporting ultra-conservative Republican candidate Tom Emmer in his run for governor in Minnesota.

Emmer has some weird views; for example, he has tried to amend the Minnesota state constitution to say that Minnesota doesn’t have to follow federal law unless they want to. (I guess he forgot about the Civil War.) He is famously anti-worker and pro-big business.
But he is most famous for his poisonous remarks about gay people and his near-rabid opposition to gay rights. He has donated to—and promoted—a hard rock ministry, and especially a band called You Can Run But You Cannot Hide (YCR). YCR frontman Bradlee Dean commends Islamists for their execution of gays and recentlly said, “On average, they molest 117 people before they’re found out.” (More here.)

Such a large gift was made possible by January’s Supreme Court decision that said capping corporate spending for candidates was an unconstitutional restriction on their freedom of speech, putting us one more step closer to corporate purchasing of candidates.

After an immediate barrage of criticism, Target agreed to donate a matching $150,000 to LGBT rights organizations. But the company backed out at the last minute and now refuses to change its decision. In essence, they say it’s a business decision. Well, duh. It’s bound to be good business to pour tons of money into a candidate who promises you the world when he’s elected.

Whether boycotts work or not is always a question. Our decades-long boycott of Cuba has ultimately resulted in Cubans with a 1.1% unemployment rate (ours is 9.5%) and free healthcare for all Cubans. But the César Chávez-led boycott of table grapes in California in the 1960s was victorious and led to humane housing and basic wages for migrant farm workers. I remember in 1973 when Southern California housewives boycotted beef because of its high prices, resulting in a dramatic drop in prices.

My grandma used to say, “You are the company you keep” and she was right. I don’t think I’ll be hanging out with Target until they back away from this lunatic. Will me not shopping at Target bankrupt the company? I don’t think so. Will 5,000 people not shopping there hurt the company? I doubt it. Will 500,000 people boycotting and marching in front of their local stores hurt the company? Hmm. Now it gets interesting.

Anyway, if you are interested, contact Target customer relations at 612-696-3400 or and let them know how you feel. I did, and I won’t be shopping at Target until something changes.

I like this group, who organized a flash mob performance at their local Target store. It makes one wonder: “When was the last time you felt this passionate about anything?”

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This entry was posted in Marriage Equality, Politics, Social Justice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Boycott Target?

  1. John says:

    I was upset about the donation but I’m unclear on what’s supposed to change to end the boycott. I think it’s pretty obvious that Target made the donation based on tax policy, didn’t consider the other dimensions, and learned a lesson there the hard way. But I haven’t seen anything suggesting that they are involved in some kind of ongoing support of anti-gay candidates or initiatives.

    The HRC donation thing came across, I thought, as a shakedown, especially given Target’s history as a very gay-friendly company and consistent support of LGBT groups in their home areas. They certainly screwed up, but I’m not sure what the boycott is supposed to accomplish, since it’s based on a one-off political donation.

    • bjeppson says:

      I agree about the HRC thing, as I don’t consider HRC to be the legitimate voice of the gay community. In my opinion, Target screwed up and should apologize and agree not to support such radical candidates in the future. As a token gesture, they could make a donation to Southern Poverty Law Center or a gay youth homeless shelter or something like that. They have a good reputation for treating their gay employees fairly. My beef with them is not distancing themselves from the candidate and, instead, digging in their heels.

  2. Bob says:

    Of course it would be much better to back Mark Dayton who supports the slaughter of the unborn. Pro Choice groups give him a 100% rating. Of course it is much worse to be unfriendly to gay demands and unions than to killing the unborn. The hypocracy of the left is unbelievable and evil.

    I would rather shop Target and boycott Pro Choice candidates.

    • bjeppson says:

      I have no idea of how abortion got into this discussion as it hasn’t been an issue in the campaign as far as I know. However, I respect the rights of anyone to boycott a business that does not agree with your social or political stance on any issue. Perhaps Mark Dayton’s business has donated $150,000 to a pro-abortion group. For me, that could merit a boycott of that business, as well.

  3. Kansaschick says:

    Boycott all you like. I am sure if I dug deep I would not be able to shop anywhere based on my politics. Would have to grow my own food and live off the land. I pro gay rights. I believe in tolerance and free speech too. If you don’t like Target now over this that is your right. I don’t think it is right for groups to try to intimidate shoppers and disrupt Targets business like some groups have. Don’t shop there and let it go. Some in the pro gay movement are as hateful as many in the anti gay movement and really makes me wonder what some are fighting for. Are they fighting for rights or trying to force their views on others?

  4. bjeppson says:

    Boycotting is a personal thing. It seldom works, but it can still make a statement. Target’s customers are being confronted with the facts. If they choose to continue to shop, they will at least do so knowingly. It is true that many in the gay rights movement are just as angry as those in the anti-gay movement, but their reasons are different and that is the key for me. Boycotting Target is like the Montgomery bus boycotts of 1955. In the case of the bus boycotts, the city realized that it could not continue to supply bus service without the revenue from bus tickets bought by blacks and eventually gave in, allowing people to sit where they wanted. People criticized the boycott because it was embarassing white riders who had to use the bus and risking layoffs of drivers, causing hardship to working families. Still, it was the right thing to do. I doubt the Target boycott will have the same effect but the company may think twice about the causes and candidates they donate to in the future. To be clear, it isn’t about the guy’s political party. He has aligned himself with hate groups who advocate executing gay people. He supports firing people from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. It isn’t a political issue but a civil and human rights issue.