Dan Cathy’s unapologetic and sincere comment in July interview that Chick-fil-A is “guilty as charged” in support of “the biblical definition of the family unit” created a political firestorm that burned into this past weekend. Three big city mayors, Boston's Thomas Menino, Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, and San Francisco's Edwin Lee said that if Chick-fil-A was going to build in their communities they should reflect their city’s values an implicit threat to block the company’s expansion. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee challenged conservatives to advocate for the First Amendment promise of free speech by creating a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which was held Wednesday, Aug. 1.
A steady flow of the chain’s franchises around the country were packed in support. The LA Times, under the headline "Frenzied Sales Sets Record" reported that Chick-fil-A would not release the actual figures, but they had smashed the record for a single sales day in their chain. Last year, the day after Thanksgiving yielded the company $17 million, a record. Rumors are the company netted sales in excess of $30 million last Wednesday, nearly double the Black Friday total.
LaDonna Ryggs, managing editor of Palladian View, posed a question on the publication's Facebook page and the interactive write-in section of the web site asking the readers if they "supported Chick-fil-A and whether they planned to eat at Chick-fil-A August 1 to show support?" The query yielded the highest response for a single question in the site’s one-year history. Moreover, while 100 percent of those responding were in support of Chick-fil-A, 92 percent of the supportive answers indicated the reader "would eat there today if they were in my area, or had already been."
This was just a snapshot of one demographic which was emblematic of the intensity of reaction across the rest of the country.
It is of no surprise therefore that nationwide, conservatives openly showed support for Chick-fil-A by dining at the chain. Conservative leaders like Senator Rick Santorum, Congressman Allen West and Governor Sarah Palin, joined by her husband Todd, were covered by mainstream media. Likewise, photos and statuses across social media ; and those that could find receptive press frequented the restaurant as a sign of support. Politicians mirror those they represent, and the effect of Mr. Cathy's was a full-length reflection of what is on the minds of many conservatives.
What an interesting juxtaposition to that of the Starbucks CEO who formed a pact with 100 other CEOs refusing to give political donations until gridlock in Congress had been addressed…there was no Starbucks appreciation day. Why not? Mr. Cathy’s subtle humility and strong faith was neither calculated nor political. His words were plain spoken and people immediately related to both his candor and religious position.
The significance of the Chick-fil-A founder's comments is the "raw nerve" or intensity of reaction by the public and politicians alike. The straight forward and heart-felt statement by Mr. Cathy resonated with conservatives nationwide and is emblematic for defending the guarantees of our constitution’s First Amendment’s freedom of speech.
Karen Floyd is the founder of Palladian View, a digital magazine for the conservative Republican woman.