NOM Says Chick-Fill-A Can Endorse a Controversial Political Issue, But Not General Mills

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been known for its insistence on “corporate neutrality” in the culture war, that corporations neither support nor condemn one position or another. Until it became inconvenient for them to do so. Rushing to the defense of Chick-fil-A’s bigoted anti-gay position (“Guilty as charged,” President Dan Cathy says), corporate neutrality was quickly forgotten.

Can Cathy, President and COO of Chick-Fill-A

Therefore, when they rushed to attack General Mills for opposing an amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota, NOM went after the corporation for allegedly violating its own diversity policy. There is nothing quite like fundamentalist Christianity’s embrace of moral relativism in pursuit of a goal. That the end justifies the means has been a benchmark position for the Church since they rounded up the first Jews and Pagans sixteen hundred years ago.

NOM approaches this delicate directional shift with its usual embrace of a blunt-force approach:

Your diversity policy claims to respect “not just the primary areas such as gender, race and sexual orientation – but also cultural aspects including values, preferences, beliefs, and communication styles.” However, your public opposition to the Minnesota Marriage Amendment overtly disrespects the values and beliefs of many of your employees. To avoid misleading the public and potential employees regarding the true position of General Mills, I ask that you remove this misrepresentation from your website and any written materials unless or until you decide to actually follow through on your commitment to true diversity.

Ken Charles, vice president, Diversity and Inclusion at General Mills

You would think from this that General Mills is being hypocritical: saying one thing and doing another. But they’re not. Take a look at what General Mills actually says:

Diversity and inclusion

At General Mills, diversity is both a value and a business strategy.

Embracing diversity helps us attract and retain top talent while driving innovation and consumer engagement around the world.

General Mills creates a diverse workforce by recruiting the best and brightest talent from all communities.

“Diversity plus inclusion equals business value. We connect with our consumers, customers and communities. We reap new ideas and innovation. And we recruit and retain the talent to win now and in the future.” - Ken Charles, vice president, Diversity and Inclusion

We cultivate an inclusive environment by considering all dimensions of diversity – not just the primary areas such as gender, race and sexual orientation – but also cultural aspects including values, preferences, beliefs and communication styles.

General Mills fosters inclusion by living all of our core values, including respecting, developing and investing in our employees.

Now here’s the concept NOM doesn’t understand – probably willfully since the other option is that they’re congenitally stupid – diversity. Diversity is about inclusion, not singling some out for exclusion. Cornell University’s ILR school explains the concept very well (I’ve emphasized the points central to our discussion here):

As a concept, diversity is considered to be inclusive of everyone. In many ways, diversity initiatives complement non-discrimination compliance programs by creating the workplace environment and organizational culture for making differences work. Diversity is about learning from others who are not the same, about dignity and respect for all, and about creating workplace environments and practices that encourage learning from others and capture the advantage of diverse perspectives.

“Inclusive of everyone” and “dignity and respect for all.”

General Mills, by opposing that bigoted Minnesota amendment, has stood by its word and by its diversity policy. It has not, as NOM claims, violated it.

What NOM is insisting upon is that General Mills not stand by its diversity policy but to abandon it by showing prejudicial, non-inclusive behavior toward those NOM deems members of the despised class known as the constructed other: in this case the LGBTQ community (it could as easily be atheists, Pagans, Muslims, or what have you).

NOM is claiming that the “values, preferences, beliefs” of some override/have more value than the “values, preferences, beliefs” of others. NOM is saying that if some in the workforce find gays and lesbians abhorrent that they should be excluded.

Leaving us to ask: what about “inclusive of everyone” does NOM not understand? There are only two sides to this particular argument: inclusiveness and exclusiveness. If you exclude anyone, even one person, you are not being inclusive.

The idea of toleration is that a person tolerate things of which he or she does not approve. Toleration is an essential ingredient in a policy of diversity, corporate or otherwise. What General Mills is saying is that yes, we will include you who oppose Marriage Equality, and we will include you who endorse Marriage Equality, and we will include you who have no position on the matter. We will include ALL of you, regardless of your values, preferences and beliefs.

If you want to talk hypocrisy, look at NOM. Though as ThinkProgress wrote on July 23, they have  abandoned the old “corporate neutrality” talking point, they have not really abandoned it altogether. Remember what I said about moral relativism? Take a look at their new spin on last month’s corporate neutrality talking point:

It’s not the role of corporate management to unilaterally endorse a controversial political issue unrelated to a company’s core business – particularly when doing so will alienate a large percentage of customers, employees and shareholders. I urge you to reconsider your decision to support same-sex marriage and to publicly oppose the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

Rather than corporations remaining strictly neutral the call now is for corporations to remain neutral if it is “a controversial political issue” that is at stake if it is “unrelated to the company’s core business” and “particularly when doing so will alienate a large percentage of its customers, employees and shareholders.”

No call here for inclusion. It’s exclusion all the way, based on the will of those who make it a part of their preferences to condemn others for not being like them. But if Chick-Fill-A, which is not mentioned here (for good reasons, I would think – it would draw attention to the essential hypocrisy of their positions) finds their anti-gay position valid (and NOM seems to think so from their endorsement of Chick-Fill-A) then how is General Mill’s position in support of diversity any less justified or relevant? They are two sides of the same coin, after all, inclusion and exclusion and marriage equality/”traditional” marriage. How is the cultural issue at stake (marriage equality) less controversial for Chick-Fill-A than for General Mills?

What NOM wants, what every fundamentalist Christian wants, is not equal application of the law, or even of logic and common sense. What the forces of bigotry do want is to plead special rights: that the laws of the universe no more than the laws of humanity apply to them; that “there is no crime for those who have Christ.” When the means justify the ends, it is perfectly permissible for groups like NOM to say one thing about one company and another thing – in complete violation of the processes followed in formulating the first position – about another.

It is no different than when a Republican insists that legislative action is required to impose a certain view (say, contraception or abortion) and when that legislation fails, to insist it’s not the place of a few lawmakers to impose such a position but for a popular amendment voted on by the people (Chris Christie comes to mind). Conversely, if the amendment approach is tried first and fails, it is perfectly permissible in their eyes to insist that the proper way to do these things is to legislate them into or out of existence, as the case may be.

No one and I mean no one is more morally flexible than a fundamentalist Christian.

The “Church” (to use the language of fundamentalism) which has long asserting itself to be the bulwark against the dark Pagan forces of moral relativism, is in fact the champion of moral relativism. The Church, in its quest for a greater, capital-T Truth, finds all lesser truths irrelevant and even to be despised, and will Machiavelli-like use all the weapons at its disposal, including lies. The spirit of the Inquisition is alive and well not only in conservative Catholicism but in conservative Protestantism as well. The Pythonesque joke is that “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” when the truth is, we all should.

Just ask General Mills.

18 Replies to “NOM Says Chick-Fill-A Can Endorse a Controversial Political Issue, But Not General Mills”

  1. I plan to eat some or all of the following in support of General Mills:

    Betty Crocker
    Good Earth
    Muir Glen
    Big G Cereals
    Green Giant
    Nature Valley
    Bisquick
    Haagen-Dazs
    Old El Paso
    Bugles
    Hamburger Helper
    Pillsbury
    Cascadian Farm
    Jus-Rol
    Pillsbury Atta
    Cheerios
    Kix
    Progresso
    Chex
    Knack & Back
    Total
    Cinnamon Toast Crunch
    La Saltena
    Totino’s/Jeno’s
    Diablitos Underwood
    Larabar
    Trix
    Fiber One
    Latina
    V. Pearl
    Food Should Taste Good
    Liberte
    Wanchai Ferry
    Frescarini
    Lucky Charms
    Wheaties
    Fruit Snacks
    Macaroni Grill
    Yoplait
    Gardetto’s
    Monsters
    Yoplait France
    Gold Medal
    Mountain High

  2. Probably getting off topic, but Christianity became abusive when it became the Roman state religion. There’s a lesson here….

  3. Christianity becoming the Roman state religion deadly for the Roman Empire, and bad for Christianity.

  4. While GM’s political reality, may or may not be important, what is important is the various poisons in GM products. I wouldn’t eat their Franken foods at gun point whether or not they were for or against gay marriage, I’m for it as well as equal rights for everyone, whether or not your mythology approves or disapproves!

  5. Both excellent points, as is the fact that a religiously tolerant state will allow an extremist and exclusive religion to develop and have no real defense against it when it becomes powerful – another scenario being replayed today just as it was in the Roman Empire.

  6. I ran into information recently that suggests that the mainstream Christianity within a hundred years of Jesus’ time was already abusive… destroying the writings of a somewhat gnostic sect that was a rival during the early years. In fact, according to what I remember, even references to the sect were destroyed… in an attempt to completely eradicate it. The early Roman church also had an order out that a book, which was a compilation of the sayings of Jesus (and that was all it was) was to be burned UNREAD, and if someone read any part of it they were to be killed or driven out of the church.

    Funny that they accept the Gospels, but not a compilation of the sayings of Jesus (which predates and is thought to be the basis for the Gospel of Judas). According to what I remember, there is information indicating that book was the first one containing his sayings and probably the most accurate.

    In fact, there is a video about some of this… a National Geographic video (available online) regarding contemporary “rivals” of Jesus. Funny thing was that a lot of their teachings were similar to his. I watched it recently and learned of others that are unknown today. BTW… National Geographic (and Nova) have about the best standards of research you can find on TV… although they don’t always get it right either. In this case, they do mirror research done by reputable scientists.

    I wonder why the early church rejected a compilation of Jesus’ sayings, but kept books like The Revelation of St. John which was not accepted by most of the authorities of the time.

    But then, I keep finding that non-Christian people (and non-Mainstream Christians) don’t have a problem with Jesus, especially with His teachings, as much as they have a problem with “Good Christians”.

  7. Another excellent piece by HH, thank you.

    A couple of key points:

    Let us not confuse a shrewdly calculated business decision with taking a moral stand. GM has crunched the numbers and knows that most Americans support equal rights. Ergo, GM desires to cash in on that marketing aspect.

    Reverse side of the same coin: NOM (and the religious wrong in general) has also crunched the numbers, and consequently knows damn well they are in the minority. This is why the whole right wing is pushing to kill democracy. They don’t have the numbers on their side. Therefore, passing laws and exerting unholy pressure by whatever means necessary is the only way they can push their agenda.

    It is interesting that NOM’s statement contains its own contradiction. Note that NOM is not suggesting that GM take a neutral position. Nope. NOM wants GM to take NOM’s position:

    “It’s not the role of corporate management to unilaterally endorse a controversial political issue… – particularly when doing so will alienate a large percentage of customers, employees and shareholders. I urge you to reconsider your decision to support same-sex marriage and to publicly oppose the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.”

    Hmmm… Wouldn’t publicly opposing the MMA alienate a large percentage of customers…? (like, an even LARGER percentage…?)

    The drama we see played out again and again is the existential howling of an ever-shrinking minority that resists coming to grips with the reality that they are yesterday’s news, yesterday’s power structure, and doomed to irrelevance in today’s world.

    But that does not mean they won’t go down without a fight. We are seeing that, over and over again. Tiresome though these Christianists are, we need to remain vigilant and not assume that just because they are crazy and out of step with reality means they cannot do real harm to this country.

    Another thing:

    While I appreciate that GM has concluded that it will win more business than it will lose by supporting gay marriage, nonetheless I will continue my many-year boycott of GM products.

    GM is fighting to prevent GMO Labeling.

    GM has been poisoning us for years with GMO soy, GMO canola and GMO corn in its products. GM and Monsanto are in collusion to keep hundreds of millions of Americans their captive food experiment lab rats.

    So, nice try with the “we’re so diverse, you should buy our products,” GM. Great marketing ploy, since most Americans support equal rights.

    But if GM really had any kind of moral conscience, it would not be fighting GMO Labeling with lies and bazillions of dollars’ worth of Madison Avenue marketing intended to confuse voters and de-rail the Right to Know/GMO Labeling movement.

    My two cents.

  8. If you read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, you will find much familiar material. Like, most of the same stuff which was later repeated in the New Testament as “The Sermon on the Mount.”

    The Meditations were a revered and well-known work in Jesus’ time.

  9. Marcus Aurelius hadn’t been born yet in Jesus’ time and they weren’t written to be published in any event. Jesus lived only until 30 CE while Marcus was born in 121 and died in 180.

  10. you are correct, my bad for not double checking google before posting. The dyslexic in me has confused BC with AD more than once, in my life.

    However, when you consider that most of the New Testament was not written down for the first 100-200 years post-Jesus, there is still room for considerable cross-over.

  11. “Diversity plus inclusion equals business value.”

    White male only plus exclusion equals 2012 Republicans. The sole subject/issue/topic left to the GOP is the economy and their alleged business prowess. Except that any successful businessperson knows that while you do not have to love your customers/clientele equally, you do have to be respectful enough to make those customers love your product; unless of course your business is shipping American jobs to foreign shores, i.e. Mitt Romney’s Bain.

    Any questions “fair and balanced” smatter brained, er, Republicans?

  12. And many theorists are now thinking because of the old testament messianic writings, the person called jesus knew how to act to pretend he was a messiah. In fact many believe the new testament is mostly made up stuff

  13. I’d add that married with children households probably buy a lot more of the stuff General Mills makes, so a decision to support the ability of more people to marry and adopt actually *is* business related.

  14. This is more of the same… for “Good Christians” freedom of speech means freedom to say what they want you to say, not freedom to say what you think.

    It’s along the same lines of their response to letters to the editor and any actions that resist their forcing religion on everyone else (like what happened to Darla Kay Wynne and others). They only want speech that supports their point of view, and cannot tolerate anything that opposes them.

    They aren’t about freedom… in fact, when I was a cult member, I remember a couple of sermons AGAINST freedom (because that meant you could refuse their proselytizing).

  15. I like the line about the customers, employees and shareholders best. Why aren’t they boycotting the corporations that are giving Shitt Robme millions in corporate funds without asking customers, employees or shareholders if that is what they want?

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