In the spirit of lively debate, and because what started out as a comment that went on way too long, this is a rebuttal to @cliffordbrown ‘s post, in which he calls for a boycott of Walmart over their announced policy of discontinuing sales of pistol ammunition. I personally require no convincing to not shop at Wally World. I dislike the stores for a wide variety of reasons too long to enumerate here, and I’m not about to start shopping there except in case of immediate need.
So far so good, but let’s be honest, Wally World ain’t losing any money on my account so far because they ain’t getting it in the first place. And I imagine I’m hardly alone in my lack of effect on Sam Walton’s legacy — unless you live in one of the more rural towns where Walmart is the only general-goods game around, you’re not going to be shopping there unless you either need to, unless you like Walmart. But here is where I significantly part ways with Clifford: In his words:
Any one who values the Constitution, let alone gun ownership and the right to effective self-defense, will immediately punish Walmart, shifting all purchases to: [list of alternatives]…The rule is simple: no shopping, and no allowing people who shop there to bring stuff to your dwelling, your office, your picnic, in Walmart bags or with Walmart house brands.
African-Americans won with this technique in the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott. They won by ruthlessly self-policing. It is disempowering nonsense to assert that boycotts are ineffective. They simply take real grassroots will, with a bit of organizing direction…
Effectively, immediately, intensively socially shame anyone who slacks off and goes to Walmart.
So it’s just one more store on the checklist we all now are demanded to carry in our heads of “places my politics tells me to boycott.” Seems every other week now someone is asking for a boycott of something. Skip this place because they gave to Planned Parenthood, skip this other place because they donated to Hillary, skip this third place because they banned open carry (nevermind that I never open-carried), boycott movies from this other studio because their CEO spouted nonsense after the Oscars, best to avoid this brand of socks because they used whale oil to make their elastic, and don’t walk on floor tiles from this company because they fired my great uncle Charlie in 1936 for decking a foreman, don’t go here, and don’t go there…
After a while, the grievances weigh one down and they’re competing for much-coveted memory space with “places we should feel obligated to patronize because it makes leftist heads explode.” So while I’m avoiding getting coffee from Starbucks, I’m obligated to dine at Chick-Fil-A, even though I think their chicken is overrated and I’m never able to get my food in under 20 minutes due to the crowds of other chicken obligates.
I’m supposed to shop at this bakery because the owner is a Christian, even though my waistline is screaming “put down the cake and walk away slowly (because walking quickly is unlikely).” And I simply must buy something from this other place because I’d be “supporting a good cause” (really, do I need another useless tchotchke?), and I have to buy this razor over there since they sponsor a show I like, and then buy this car because my grandmother said they hired great uncle Charlie after that unfortunate incident with the foreman…
So I have to say I object on principle to yet another boycott. We make fun of the lefties for hating the Christian ethos of Chick-Fil-A and mock their hypocrisy when they buy the chicken anyway. Maybe we should focus on something else.
All that said, there are some specific issues with the nature of the proposed boycott that are problematic in their own right. I’m going to address the second quoted point first to clear the decks. I do not see the parallel with a city-owned and city-operated bus system that an urban population depended on for their livelihoods. The bus boycott worked because it was concentrated and impossible to miss, and because the black populace of Montgomery had to make real, tangible, and visible sacrifices in the boycott. A boycott of Wally World is diffuse because there are, for most people, many, many other places to shop, and diffuse because Walmart has such a broad customer base around the country. And it’s not like it would be a particularly pointed sacrifice for most people except in more rural locations.
Further, Montgomery discriminated virulently against blacks on the basis skin color. This discrimination was impossible to ignore. The blacks who depended on those buses to get to work or to do their shopping were treated terribly from the moment they got on the bus. Does a Walmart greeter even notice me when I enter or exit their store? Am I, as a gun owner, wearing some tag that tells Walmart to treat me badly? Will I face hostility, derision, or violence while shopping, just for being a gun owner? (I know I’ll face a slow checkout regardless, but that’s another matter.) There is no parallel here, and it does us no good at all to compare our comparatively petty grievance to the African Americans living in Montgomery in the 1950s — to do so is an insult to them.
But what of the social shaming advocated for those who will not boycott? Given how increasingly militant we are divided as Americans, where our politicians and pundits demand that we boycott this or that, or support that other thing because “it makes leftists’ heads explode,” is the added antagonism worth it — especially over an issue this small? I’m an employer – should I really tell my employees not to bring Sam’s Choice cola to a company picnic, or tell the lady who brings in donuts some mornings to get them someplace else? Should I make my politics their issue too, where they have to consider their own political loyalties a factor in whether they feel welcome and valued as human beings at work?
I have enough political arguments too with our extended family, to the point where I will hush people at family gatherings if they cannot talk politics civilly. I even had a relative storm out of a Christmas party because I told them to can it in front of the kids. In the years since, however, the family has come to respect my rule and abide by it. It’s not that we cannot talk politics, but when talk starts to turn to swapping barbs and trying to “win” by shame or browbeating, it ends or I ask people to leave. To do as suggested would be to tell those relatives to forget everything I have tried to enforce about respect and to make my politics central. They know my politics already. They know what I stand for and why. But I will not make agreement with me a condition for whether they can come into my home. My home is welcome to all, and that I will not compromise.
But there is one more matter:
The only boycott exception, where legal, is to get in the CEO’s face with open carry. Carry politely, legally, openly. Then, expecting confrontation by employees, have a partner obviously employing a cell phone or GoPro camera to capture everything as you tell them they will either respect the American Constitution and your God-given right to self-defense or you will never spend another dime in Walmart and only show up to mock them for “just following orders” when the store closes.
How have these sorts of things gone for us before? Not well. Remember when Starbucks allowed open carry? How did that work out? So long as people did not make it an issue, it was not an issue. The hoplophobes, of course, found out and started to protest and demand Starbucks explicitly ban open carrying. What happened next was that more gun owners started open-carrying at Starbucks. If they had stuck just to discretely holstered pistols I imagine the issue would have gone away eventually. Instead (and you can image-search this easily) people showing up toting long-guns into suburban coffee shops. That was entirely unnecessary, and was little better than LARPing for the spectacle of it all — there was then, and is now no credible case for toting around an AR-15 slung on your back when you go to get a latté. Pretending otherwise for the sake of “muh rights!” is risible.
Open-carrying into Walmarts now, with a friend in tow and a gotcha camera at the ready, is also spectacle, and it will only serve to further shred credibility and perception. Walmart has every legal right as a business to conduct itself in this manner, and I have every right to not shop there. To say otherwise is to likewise say that a cake shop has to bake a gay wedding cake. We all rightly recognize that the lawsuits against Masterpiece Cakes have been borne of malice and spectacle, is that a game we should stoop too as well?Published in