In the grand scheme of things, Ben & Jerry most likely didn’t notice when I stopped eating their ice cream. I didn’t walk outside their stores carrying a protest sign; I didn’t write a letter to the newspaper announcing my decision and I certainly didn’t suggest to elected officials that their stores should be made unwelcome.
However, my ears perked up when Dennis Prager, whose columns and radio show I admire, suggested that Mitt Romney should have made a public show of eating a Chick-fil-A hamburger along with a Ben & Jerry ice cream. His reasoning included the idea that, “Romney’s message would be that in America, with rare exceptions (such as, for example, a Nazi- or KKK-owned company), we buy products based on their excellence, not the views of their makers.”
On political issues, my thinking almost always aligns with Dennis’ and I appreciate his logical articulation of ideas. In this case, while I think his point is generally true, I disagree with his suggestion. I am typing this Musing using Microsoft Word and living in the Northwest I have downed more than my share of Starbucks coffee. This is despite that fact that I disagree with some of the causes that Bill and Melinda Gates or Howard Schulz support. I respect the generosity, particularly of the Gates, and recognize their backing of many in need. I don’t expect their views to be carbon copies of mine. Nevertheless, as an individual, I drew a line at being a consumer of Ben & Jerry’s company, even after they were no longer involved in its management. I did this when my children heard Ben and Jerry speak at a conference in a way that showed disrespect for and ill will toward the American military at a time when our troops were in combat. As Dennis noted, other of their positions verge more to an extreme that is beyond simply articulating another respectable point of view.
My loss of appetite for Coffee Heath Bar Crunch wasn’t intended as a boycott, expecting my actions to hurt the company’s bottom line. It was a message to me. Every time I walk past the ice cream section of my supermarket, ignoring the siren call even of the sale-priced cartons, I am reminded to say a prayer for our soldiers and to think with gratitude of them and their families. Calling it a sacrifice would be grossly self-aggrandizing. It is a quiet, simple way for me to concentrate my appreciation and patriotism.
I strongly agree with Dennis that the Romney campaign blew a huge opportunity to take a principled stand regarding the liberal hate-filled desire to punish Chick-fil-A for its owner’s views. While I will vote for Mr. Romney, the manner in which he has been running his campaign, as exemplified by his silence on this issue, has eroded the respect and confidence I would like to grant him. (I do hope that the Ryan pick signals a course correction.) However, in my opinion, the candidate’s eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream would have been a further step in the wrong direction.