November 22, 2006

New Wal-Mart Protest

Wal-Mart recently announced that it was going to go back to using “Merry Christmas” greetings in its stores because they thought that trying to be less Christian-centric with “Happy Holidays” wasn’t gaining it any friends among American shoppers. They were probably right.

There are a number of different reactions one could have to this announcement. Among them:

  1. Feeling triumphant that “Merry Christmas” was back in its rightful place (this would be the O’Reilly style opinion.)
  2. Feeling pissed off that Wal-Mart switched to a less-inclusive greeting
  3. Feeling offended that Wal-Mart (and, perhaps, retailers in general) crassly use Christmas which many consider a sacred holiday.
  4. Feeling happy that Wal-Mart (and other retailers) uses Christmas because you don’t consider it sacred.

Personally, the news didn’t bother me much. This is not one of my hot-button issues. However, I did note that you can’t really placate the people who are really at the far end of that spectrum.

And Wal-Mart is learning that now.

Conservative plan to protest Wal-Mart

Long under fire from the left, Wal-Mart is now a target of Christian conservatives urging shoppers to boycott the huge retailer’s post-Thanksgiving sales because of its low-key outreach to some gay-rights organizations.

To be a goofy right-wing religious organization these days there are two requirements:

  1. You must have either the word “Family” or “America” in your group’s name.
  2. You must be nuts

Check it out: The low-key outreach in question is that Wal-Mart donated minuscule (to them) sums to a gay rights organization, and also paid to become part of a National Gay Chamber of Commerce.

The reaction:

Conservative leaders viewed these actions as a betrayal of Wal-Mart’s traditions, which have included efforts to weed out magazines with racy covers and CDs with explicit lyrics. “This has been Christian families’ favorite store — and now they’re giving in, sliding down the slippery slope so many other corporations have gone down,” said the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America. “They’re all being extorted by the radical homosexual agenda.”

News flash, Reverend Flip. Wal-Mart doesn’t have values and tradition. They’re a company set up to make money. And if the gay community is big enough, they become an important customer. You misinterpreted past actions that catered to certain extremists as “principled.” They were, in actuality, “strategic.” They were trying to conform to what they saw as a large block of mainstream American consumers. But, apparently, the times they are a changin’.

The strategy of “Flip and his Lids” is to try to make this about same-sex marriage. Why not hit that hot button every chance you get?

Wal-Mart responded:

“We do not have a position on same-sex marriage. … What we do have is a strong commitment to diversity. We’re against discrimination everywhere.”

Ouch, did you see that? At the same time they said they were not going to take a position on gay marriage they hit Flip with the “D” word. “Discrimination.”

Flip has taken on a fight he can’t win and made the boycott not about the behavior of the store alone, but about some ideology. Not only will they get the attention they crave, but Wal-Mart’s position on the matter will also get attention.

Flip shouts that they are against gay marriage. Wal-Mart framed it as being about “discrimination.” So, when the smoke clears, the message is that these anti-same-sex marriage groups are pro-discrimination. Which is precisely correct.

Bonus: I always spelled “miniscule” with two i’s but my spell-checker spells it with two u’s. “Minuscule.” Weird. How do you all spell it?

Posted by James at November 22, 2006 7:40 AM
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Wal-Mart Shmal-Mart. Who cares what they do with Chrismas? Not I, as I don't shop there and for me, Christmas isn't holy as I am not religious. Put that in your war on Christmas and smoke it.

Now, on to the intersting bit: miniscule vs. minuscule.

According to Merriam-Webster's, minuscule is actually correct, and if one reads the etymology, one will understand why, though it is difficult on the eye and ear:

Main Entry: min·is·cule
Pronunciation: 'mi-n&s-"kyül
variant of MINUSCULE
usage The adjective minuscule is etymologically related to minus, but associations with mini- have produced the spelling variant miniscule. This variant dates to the end of the 19th century, and it now occurs commonly in published writing, but it continues to be widely regarded as an error.

On to minuscule:

Main Entry: 2 minuscule
Pronunciation: 'mi-n&s-"kyül
Function: adjective
1 : written in or in the size or style of minuscules
2 : very small

Posted by: Patti M. at November 22, 2006 8:46 AM

I'm the wrong person to ask about spelling :-), but the Oxford Dictionary lists miniscule as "nonstandard spelling of minuscule."

Off the cuff, I probably would have spelled it the same way you did.

Posted by: Jim at November 22, 2006 8:52 AM

I wonder if the War On Christmas has run its course, or if we'll see it this year again.

Or maybe the War On Christmas will become its own holiday tradition, like depression.

In any case, this is mes the Wal-Mart on Christmas than it is the Wal-Mart on Christians. Or, actually, the War on Moderate Christians and Wal-Mart by Right-Wingnuts. My money's on the moderates in this fight.

Me, I'm just going to make popcorn. Want yours with or without butter?

Posted by: James at November 22, 2006 8:55 AM

Or maybe the War On Christmas will become its own holiday tradition, like depression.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

You really do have a way with words, James.

Posted by: Patti M. at November 22, 2006 9:13 AM

And by the way, Miss Conduct has this to say about the "War on Christmas":

"For Christmas People: There Is No 'War on Christmas,' So Get Over It." [She goes on to discuss the topic briefly, whilst employing the term "loudmouth";it's worth the read.]

How to Survive the Holidays Without Angering Your Family, Annoying Your Friends, and Alienating Your Neighbors: Miss Conduct's indispensable guide to a jolly season
By Robin Abrahams | November 19, 2006

Posted by: Patti M. at November 22, 2006 9:17 AM

I don't give a rat's ass what Walmart employees say to shoppers during the holiday season. And if you want to talk about Wal-Mart abandoning its traditions, let's talk about that chain's early commitment to US-made products.

Posted by: Julie at November 22, 2006 9:30 AM

Julie: ZING!

Posted by: Patti M. at November 22, 2006 9:54 AM

Goodie, I have more reasons to not shop at Wal*Mart! And James, that Christmas Tradition/Depression comment should be cross-stitched and framed somewhere.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at November 22, 2006 11:50 AM

I will likely be the last person to continue spelling it "minuscule" -- I suspect that's one of those words that's going to change within my lifetime (along with "supersede"). Sigh.

To remember it, keep "minus" in mind.

Posted by: Karen at November 22, 2006 12:33 PM

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