Hypocrisy, Thy Name is WashU
Target is homophobic…or so Washington University in St Louis would have you believe. Not long ago, this ever so progressive university withdrew from the Target After Hours Shopping program the retail chain created to serve college freshman through offering not only extended hours, but transportation from campus to the store and back. The justification given by Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jill Carnaghi was that, “We need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. ” What Carnaghi meant is that Washington University cannot merely preach tolerance, but must actively champion it. So you’d think that Target must’ve been donating to the Westboro Baptist Church or doing something equally nefarious, right?
As it turns out, Target earned the university’s ire by making the mistake of donating some $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, a political action committee formed to “ensure that private-sector job creation and economic growth are at the top of the agenda during the 2010 campaign.” How is this an issue of tolerance? Well, it seems that Minnesota Forward decided to give Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmers some money. Emmers, more than simply failing to stand up for gay rights, is closely associated with a homophobic rock ministry that advocates the murder of homosexuals based on the Bible (though curiously, they seem less concerned about killing violators of the Sabbath, another scriptural gem). While this is no doubt troubling, this is also not related to why Minnesota Forward helped finance his campaign. On their own website, the group notes that “As a legislator, Tom Emmer voted against job-killing taxes and for reduced government spending. Emmer voted with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce 91% of the time on votes scored by the Chamber.” In other words, for a commerce-minded PAC, he seems to be an ideal candidate. Likewise, as Target is a Fortune 100 company interested in protecting its bottom line and delivering ever-larger returns for its investors, it seems only natural that they would donate to Minnesota Forward. That Emmers is a bigot (or at least keeps company with them) does not indicate Minnesota Forward or Target supports discrimination. In the case of Target, one would be hard-pressed to find a more tolerant company of its size. When not setting records with its generous charitable contributions, Target is busy earning a perfect rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which measures GLBT treatment in the work place. And it has long had some of the most generous domestic partnership benefits of any major American corporation.
So you would think that if the university was prepared to hurt its students to send a message to a gay-friendly corporation that they ought not donate to groups that donate to incidentally-homophobic individuals, that it must take a similarly extreme approach across the board. I did. Hence my surprise when in my university inbox I see an announcement for a university-sponsored blood drive that will be taking place next week. Maybe the higher-ups missed a memo, or maybe they just didn’t think they could get the same smug satisfaction from treating the American Red Cross with the disdain they did Target, but this effort is exponentially more harmful to homosexuals than anything Target can be linked to. Why? Well since 1983, any “male who has had sex with another male since 1977, even once,” has been barred from giving blood thanks to the FDA. This, of course, is one of a myriad of restrictions imposed that would seem intent upon limiting the spread of HIV. Since homosexual men constitute the majority of HIV-positive individuals in the US, this seems reasonable enough on the surface. But, while the majority of those with HIV may be gay, the majority of those who are gay do not have HIV. Even those who can prove their health are ineligible on a permanent basis to donate blood. That, to me, seems far more outrageous than a gay-friendly company backing a PAC for economic reasons, which later went on to back a homophobic candidate for economic reasons.
And I won’t even get started in pointing out the hypocrisy of getting outraged at Target without kicking the ROTC off-campus like Columbia and Stanford.
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Posted on September 9, 2010, in Campus Issues and Personal Commentary and tagged Blood Donation, Bradlee Dean, Caleb Posner, Columbia, Fortune 100, HIV, Homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Hypocrisy, Minnesota, Minnesota Forward, PAC, Red Cross, ROTC, Stanford, Target, Tom Emmers, Washington University, WUSTL, You Can Run But You Can Not Hide. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.