Pete Buttigieg is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he’s also offering to be the de facto diplomat to broker a “peace deal” between Chick-fil-A and those who disagree with the restaurant CEO’s views on marriage.
During an appearance on “The Breakfast Club” radio show this week, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was asked by host Lenard McKelvey, who goes by the stage name Charlamagne tha God, for his views on Chick-fil-A.
Buttigieg, who is openly gay, replied, “I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken.”
“We’ve got to find a way to use our identities to reach other people,” the 37-year-old politician continued. “[W]hat can we talk about that brings us together? Because I have no clue what it’s like to walk in the shoes of so many other people. But I can talk about some of the pieces of what I carry with me and I see if it rhymes with their life experience.”
To McKelvey’s credit, he noted the lack of true tolerance in American culture these days, arguing our society no longer appreciates difference of opinion and the opportunity to coexist in a pluralistic society.
“We just live in this era of extremes,” the radio host explained. “People can’t see nuance in things anymore. And I just want us to start seeing the nuance again.”
There are, though, a couple concerns with the fact that Buttigieg — a presidential candidate — is being asked to weigh in on the artificial outrage over Chick-fil-A and CEO Dan Cathy’s years-old comments about marriage.
First, the mayor’s remarks highlight our culture’s unwillingness to actually tolerate other points of view. Just like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Buttigieg felt unable to simply say he likes Chick-fil-A’s menu items without offering some sort of caveat about the personal views of the Atlanta-based chain’s chief executive.
Last summer, Dorsey was compelled to apologize after being slammed on social media for tweeting during gay pride month that he bought food from Chick-fil-A. He said he “completely forgot” about the restaurant’s “background,” referring to Cathy’s belief that marriage is between one man and one woman — a mainstream Christian understanding that has absolutely zero impact on the restaurant’s policy, which does not discriminate against any patron or employee on any basis whatsoever.
The other concern is obvious: why should a presidential candidate weigh in on the personal (and constitutionally protected) beliefs of the CEO of a very successful fast-food restaurant chain in the United States?
To be fair to Buttigieg, he was asked the question — he didn’t bring it up on his own — and his answer was very diplomatic. His words alone are not really the concern.
The issue is McKelvey asking the question at all. It’s a bit eyebrow-raising when a politician running for president of the United States is asked to comment on the religious views of a private American citizen and the business he operates.
There doesn’t need to be some “peace deal” brokered between Chick-fil-A and the handful of cockeyed politicians and activists outraged by the fact Cathy admitted in 2012 he holds to the widely accepted Christian view that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
We should already be able to exist peacefully together. Cathy doesn’t need to change his perspective on marriage and neither do his critics.
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, weighing in on the San Antonio City Council’s recent decision to bar the quick-service eatery from having a space in its airport because of the restaurant’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” responded with the only “peace deal” we need: the Golden Rule.
Referencing Luke 6:31, the Chick-fil-A representative said: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“The 140,000 people who serve customers in our restaurants on a daily basis represent and embrace all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity,” the spokesperson said, according to Fox News. “Our intent is to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
We don’t need Buttigieg to broker some sort of agreement between these two camps. Cathy is already embracing true tolerance; now it’s his detractors’ turn.