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More Conservative Brands Are Becoming Inclusive

The brouhaha over Target's tuck-friendly bathing suits hasn't really died down yet, but Target's management was never a bastion of conservatism, so "losing" that chain was not a big defeat for conservative forces. Losing well-known conservative companies is a whole different kettle of fish or, perhaps more apropos, barrel of crackers. In particular, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a fixture in the Deep South and a conservative bulwark, is now embracing Pride Month, to much conservative dismay. The Texas Family Project, a conservative group, tweeted: "We take no pleasure in reporting that @CrackerBarrel has fallen. A once family friendly establishment has caved to the mob."

The company didn't respond, but its website says: "Our food and décor celebrate warm memories of the past, and our inclusive culture and beliefs help us make way for an even brighter future, together. Discrimination, overt or through unconscious bias, has no place at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store." How dare this Southern company say it won't discriminate? To make it worse, they have set up rainbow-themed rocking chairs in pride-themed seating areas. Also, on Facebook, the company wrote: "Everyone is always welcome at our table." It's enough to drive a conservative to drink—but not at Cracker Barrel.

As we've noted previously, another longtime conservative company, Chick-fil-A, has also "fallen." It was threatened with a boycott after conservatives discovered that it hired a VP of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although in truth, the conservatives were slow on the draw. VP Erick McReynolds has held that job since Nov. 2021. Anti-LGBTQ pundit Joey Mannarino tweeted: "It's only a matter of time until they start putting t****y semen in the frosted lemonade at this point." Then he ran a poll asking whether he should start a boycott of the company. He got 110,000 responses, but the majority voted for "No, do not boycott."

McReynolds responded to all this by saying: "Chick-fil-A restaurants have long been recognized as a place where people know they will be treated well. We are committed to ensuring mutual respect, understanding and dignity everywhere we do business."

And before we leave this subject behind, let's make it a trifecta. We suspect this one hurts as much as Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A combined. Garth Brooks is the highest-selling (and presumably most popular) country musician of all time (not counting crossover artists like Elvis Presley). He's moved 170 million albums in the United States, which is about 1½ for every single Southerner.

Consistent with Brooks' fame and popularity, he owns a bar in Nashville named Friends in Low Places, after (arguably) his most famous song. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, Bud Light is cervisia non grata with right-wingers. So, how will Brooks' bar be handling that? The singer was happy to tell reporters:

We're going to serve every brand of beer. We are. We just are. It's not our decision to make. Our thing is this: If you come into this house, love one another. If you're an a**hole, there are plenty of other places on Lower Broadway to go. Everybody's got their opinions. But inclusiveness is always going to be me. I think diversity is the answer to the problems that are here and the answer to the problems that are coming. So I love diversity. All inclusive, so all are welcome. I understand that might not be other people's opinions, but that's OK, man.

One wonders if the people angry about this decision will notice Brooks' allusion to Biblical verse.

We already wrote about this at the outset of Pride Month, but the bottom line here is that increasingly many businesses are standing up to right-wing threats of boycotts. If entities with long-standing iconic status among right-wingers, including Disney, Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A and Garth Brooks are lost, it is beginning to look like the business sector (and, in particular, the hospitality sector) has decided that discrimination against its customers is not a good strategy. (V & Z)

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