You could have seen this coming a mile away.
“Counter the leftist hate,” someone named Marji Wojack tweeted earlier this week. “Join me in Hobby Lobby Love Day-Thursday, July 3.”
Those who support Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, which puts some employers in charge of what kind of birth control their insurance companies may provide employees, are being asked to go to their local Hobby Lobby store, take a picture and tweet it with a message of support to “Bristol Palin’s” blog at Patheos.
(I put Bristol Palin in quotes because, I, like many people, believe her blog is ghostwritten by the smart, influential Christian author and editor Nancy French, who co-wrote one of Sarah Palin’s books, and also co-wrote Bristol’s preachy, disingenuous memoir. But I digress.)
Hobby Lobby Love Day is a response to calls to boycott the craft chain in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Boycotts can be effective, but in cases like these, they are a crude tool. They can inspire backlashes. Sometimes, innocent people get caught in the crossfire.
That, for example, seems to be the case at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the target of a months-long boycott because its owner, the sultan of Brunei, has imposed a new, harsh criminal code based on sharia law in his tiny Muslim nation. The new code calls for death by stoning for “crimes” such as homosexuality and adultery, and amputations for crimes such as theft. Here is an absolutely chilling story by my colleague Carol Williams about what the new legal scheme will entail.
The action, lead by the LGBT civil-rights group, Human Rights Campaign, shines a needed spotlight on a reprehensible turn of events halfway across the world. But while a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and other properties in the sultan’s international Dorchester Collection hotel chain may hardly put a nick in the sultan’s bountiful treasure chest, it is wreaking havoc on the little guys.
No less an authority on labor matters than Kim Kardashian has weighed in on this aspect of the boycott, writing last month on her blog that, like Russell Crowe and Rose McGowan, she thinks it’s time to end it, even though she moved her bridal shower from the hotel in protest.
“There must be other ways to express our views without punishing the workers,” she wrote. “I’m glad to hear that industry executives like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Casey Wasserman are reaching out to leaders of the hotel chain to discuss a way to potentially end the protest. Boycotting the hotel won’t affect the sultan, just our dear friends who work there.”
Most people don’t lunch in the Polo Lounge, nor can they afford more than $500 a night for a hotel room. And most people probably can't even tell you where Brunei is (it's on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia). A boycott like this, while rooted in admirable principles, seems kind of exotic.
A threatened boycott of Hobby Lobby, however, is something that resonates. It becomes a proxy war over reproductive rights, a topic everyone can get worked up about.
A similar dynamic played out last year after the A&E Network suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson for making bigoted remarks about gays to a reporter for GQ. At the time, the show was the network's most watched program.
The suspension became a right-wing cause celebre, resulting in a threatened boycott of A&E and then Robertson’s reinstatement. In that case, the threatened boycott seemed to work.
But I think calling for a Hobby Lobby boycott will backfire.
It will reinforce an incorrect narrative that Christians are under attack in America, and will probably increase business among patrons who want to show their support for the Oklahoma-based craft chain, which has 629 stores in 47 states.
If you don't support the chain owners' need to impose their theology on their employees, stay away from Hobby Lobby. But the louder you scream about it, the higher their sales are going to be.
Please do not boycott me on Twitter: @robinabcarian