Americans love a winner, but we also love the underdog. We are The Man who loves sticking it to The Man.
Because of this weird paradox of national character, protest movements find a lot of fertile ground here. Revolution is how this whole America thing got started in the first place, so we tend cut revolutionaries a lot more slack than they might find in other countries. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a press release from the Greenpeace chapters in Cuba or Saudi Arabia, for instance.
However, there is a limit to how much protesting Americans will put up with, and I think we are starting to see that limit coming into view over the horizon.
There were at least 100 people standing outside to get into the building to order from the counter, and no telling how many more were queued up inside. People were parking a block away in the Kohl’s parking lot and walking to the Chick fil-A, the parking lots of the stores directly surrounding the chicken joint being completely packed.
The massive crowd reaction locally and nationwide are driven by a loathing of arrogant politicians like those in Boston, New York, Chicago and San Francisco who feel they have the power and the authority to tell a businessman like Dan Cathy what personal opinions he can and cannot hold if he wants to do business in “their” towns.
They trampled on his religious beliefs. They trampled on his freedom of speech. They attempted to deny him and his franchisees the rights to start small businesses, merely because a free American dared to share what he believed.
Yes, clearly this nationwide reaction is about more than just (really, really good) fried chicken. Activists made several miscalculations that pushed normally compliant Americans past their limit.
- Deriding an opinion that pretty much every American already holds – News flash to activists: Americans do not see a same-sex pairing as equivalent to a marriage between a man and a woman. For reference, see everywhere the issue has ever come up for a popular vote, where gay marriage proponents are 0-fer.
- Attacking an established, and beloved, entity – You can protest the construction of an overpass or a dam because it interferes with the habitat of the Orange-Throated Warbler or whatever, and people will usually suck it up and learn to live with slightly heavier traffic or slightly higher energy prices. They just have better things to do than constantly counter-protesting protesters. But threaten something as fervently admired as Chick-Fil-A, and its supporters will find the time to make you regret you ever opened your mouth. For those who aren’t in the know, I really can’t exaggerate this point enough. For fans like me, threatening Chick-Fil-A is like threatening to burn down my mom’s kitchen.
- Failing to understand that other people are just as passionate as you are – The liberals who attacked Chick-Fil-A live in a bubble that, sadly, does not have its own Chick-Fil-A franchise. They didn’t understand it or its customers. And they didn’t believe that anybody could love anything as much as they love bellyaching about intolerance. Wrong-o.
- Not recognizing that people have had just about enough of your crybaby bullcrap – There are a whole bunch of people nowadays wandering around trying to tell other people how to live their lives, and not being very polite about it. Here, they tried it one time too many, and, in combination with all the other miscalculations, created a perfect storm of blowback.
I think you may be seeing this scenario playing out again with recent attacks on football. Busybodies and lawyers are lining up for a full-scale frontal attack on the sport. Some people are already saying that it could lead to the sport being outlawed entirely.
But football has fans like Chick-Fil-A has fans, only a thousand times more intense. If they’ll wait in line four hours for a chicken sandwich, what will they do for the sport that defines their very identity? Test them at your peril.