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Cowards and Liars

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The truth is out: Ford Motor Company speaks with a forked tongue.

When I first heard that Ford was planning on dropping its gay-media advertising for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands, I shrugged at tne news. Reportedly the carmaker pulled its ads in order to end a boycott by the virulently right-wing American Family Association, but the company explained that the move was financially motivated, pointing to its continuation of its gay-media campaign for Volvo vehicles as proof of its commitment to its GLBT customers. Premier Automotive Group, the Ford division that makes Jaguar and Land Rover, is losing money – that’s a fact. And that satisfied me: The first goal of business is to maximize profit, after all, and adjusting marketing strategies in the face of red ink is a big part of that.

Mind changed.

Turns out that the gay-specific Volvo campaign is being yanked too; instead, Ford will use a generic ad that runs in mainstream media. That news isn’t great, but I can see a company doing something like that in the interest of saving money. But then there is this: The automaker is cancelling all its plans to sponsor any GLBT events. And the reported reason for all of it — the pulling of the ads, the generic nature of the Volvo ad, the flipflop on supporting gay-themed events — is in order to make nice with fundie activists who insist one telling the nation that it must live up to right-wing Christian values and that we are allowed to see their views represented in media. Hell, they’re telling queer people that we are permitted only to see fundie-approved messages – even in our queer media!

Such talent: Ford’s spinners can parse the language with Clintonian skill. The fact is clear, however: The company caved in the interest of pleasing a bigoted, right-wing mentality and getting the Christian soldiers off of its back. And the move worked. From the Associated Press:

“We are ending the boycott of Ford,” [AFA] Chairman Donald Wildmon said in a statement. “While we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future.”

Wildmon said conversations with Ford dealers had convinced the group to end the boycott.

“The dealers are basically our kind of people who share many of our concerns,” Wildmon said.

The group announced the boycott against Ford and related brands May 31. The group said Ford gave thousands of dollars to gay rights groups, offered benefits to same-sex couples and actively recruited gay employees.

In caving in and bowing down to “our kind of people,” Ford lied – at least by omission – and slapped an entire population of consumers in the collective face.

This is nothing less than an outrage. As such, my official boycott of Ford products begins now. I encourage all people who believe in fairness to do the same. And let the company know why.

The following action alert comes from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation:

Ford Motor Company — which has a strong history of support for the LGBT market — has entered into an agreement with a radical anti-gay extremist group called the American Family Association.

Recent reports of this agreement suggest it requires Ford to withdraw advertising from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media and cease sponsoring LGBT events. These reports, combined with Ford’s decision last week to refer media to the American Family Association to speak on its behalf, raise serious questions about whether Ford has aligned itself with an anti-gay extremist group.

Please e-mail, call or fax Ford Motor Company today. They need to hear and understand the seriousness of our community’s concerns. Please ask Ford to directly disavow any type of agreement with the American Family Association, clarify its past statements, and reaffirm its support for and outreach to the LGBT market. And please urge Ford executives to meet with community leaders to resolve the grave concerns raised by these reports.


Write and/or call Ford Motor Company today!

E-mail the following addresses:
Customer Relationship Center
Ford Investor Relations
William Clay Ford, Jr.

Phone Numbers:
(313) 322-3000
(800) 392-3673

Fax Number:
(313) 845-6073

By the way, I fully support any group’s right to boycott and protest – even the vile AFA’s. It’s the American way. But when said group is demanding that a company turn its back on a particular group of consumers – something we on the political left do not do (if we have any scruples at all) – any company has the duty to stand strong and say no. Ford says it will continue offering benefits to its GLBT employees, and that is appreciated, but turning its back on publicly showing that queer dollars count out of nothing more than cowardice is unconscionable and unforgivable.

A coalition of 17 GLBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, issued a demand:

If there is an agreement with AFA, we expect Ford to disavow it. We expect Ford to publicly reaffirm its historic support for our community. And, we expect Ford to meet with LGBT representatives this week to resolve these concerns.

That sounds fair. If the company does not comply, Ford doesn’t deserve my business. If you believe in fairness for all, it doesn’t deserve yours. Take a look at the action alert again and get busy.

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About NR Davis

  • Lono

    Thoughtful piece on a complicated issue. From what little I understand, Henry Ford was a monster anti-semite… so hate is in their blood.

    However, a company’s only job is to make money. Yes, we Democrats prefer it be done legally and morally. Who Ford chooses to woo and not woo isn’t really my concern. I don’t own Ford stock… mostly because they make shit cars.

  • Dave Nalle

    Rumor is that Ford is in way worse financial shape than they’re willing to admit to. Having a boycott as an excuse to yank those ads was probably a real boon to them. Like GM they’re facing the grim specter of 1960s unionism coming home to roost. Now that their baby boomer employees are retiring they are finding it increasingly difficult to produce a car at a competitive price when as much as $1500 of each car goes into the extremely generous pension plans unions negotiated from short-sighted management in the 60s and 70s. That’s more money going into pensions than Ford makes in profit on a car. A very grim figure in a competitive auto market.