Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Wal-Mart Flap

St. Blog's Parish has been alive with the sounds of outrage over a story of a Wal-Mart employee's ignorant email regarding Christmas. Here's the text of the email as found at the urban legends website,

Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than "christmas" which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with "christmas" red and white are actually a representation of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called for a boycott of Wal-Mart on the grounds of discrimination against Christians:
“Yesterday, I announced a boycott of Wal-Mart and asked 126 religious organizations that span seven faith communities to join with us. We want a) an apology for insulting Christians by effectively banning Christmas and b) a withdrawal of its insane statement regarding the origins of Christmas and c) a revision on its website.
Snopes contacted Wal-Mart and got this reply:
We at Wal-Mart believe this e-mail between a temporary associate and one of our valued customers was entirely inappropriate. Its contents in no way represent the policies, practices or views of our company. This associate, who was hired less than three weeks ago, is no longer employed by our company. We sincerely apologize to any person or organization that was offended by the inappropriate and inflammatory comments made by this former associate. Wal-Mart is proud to welcome customers of all faith, and celebrants of all holidays. With more than 138 million customers coming through our storesmevery week and a variety of holidays that they celebrate throughout this season, "Happy Holidays" is a pleasant greeting that applies to everyone and every celebration. It's simply our way of wishing our customers a good time with their family and friends during this time of year. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
(emphasis added)
Bill Donohue got the same reply and has called for an end to the boycott.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us understand the way Big Business works in America. Wal-Mart is uniquely attuned to the fact that its primary support comes from the heartland -- do you honestly suppose it's company policy to insult Christians? Any organization can hire a stupid temp; this won't be the last occasion. Note that said temp has been fired and an apology offered for his careless conduct.

I'm not a lover of Wal-Mart: the stores are aesthetically unpleasing, the atmosphere is lousy, and the big box layout is a blight on the urban landscape. On the other hand, I recall when we were a younger family trying to make it by on a $40/week food budget. Wal-mart helped us stay afloat. There's a place for Wal-Mart in the American economy; if not, they would have gone under by now.

I would have more respect for the Catholic League if it used its clout in a dignified fashion to get to the heart of a matter, rather than issuing prissy calls for boycotts. Even if the small dogs start yapping, we're the camel that's been around for 2000 years and counting. We can wait a week for an apology from Wal-Mart (less than 40 years old) before we start kicking sand around, because we're just that big.


John Farrell said...

Amen. There's a Wal Mart up in Littleton, New Hampshire, not exactly one of the wealthiest parts of the country, and yes, Wal Mart is not exactly the most beautiful architecture in the neighborhood. But it helps folks get by.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I think Mr. Donohue is getting snippy in his old age.

Todd said...

prissy ... that fits

snippy ... another six-letter s-word entered my mind, but I'll settle (no that wasn't it) for hubris

Jenny said...

I grew up in a tiny, rural town. The area Wal-Marts were the only department-type stores around. Nearly everything folks wore or bought came from a Wal-Mart. People were so excited when the superstores opened with the grocery section. Suddenly, there was a whole new world of cuisines open with food choices never before available. Urban people don't understand how much Wal-Mart means in the rest of the country. After my senior prom, most kids ended up at Wal-Mart since it was the only place open late.

Anonymous said...

Walmart exploits its employees. Costco on the other hand pays its employees fairly well, so I shop there.