March 25, 2006
Andrew Young Hearts Wal-MartWal-Mart’s newest resident shill is…Andrew Young??
DECATUR, Ga. - At the grand opening of a Wal-Mart in a black suburb of Atlanta, civil rights leader Andrew Young danced with store clerks, bouncing to the song "We Are Family."I think MLK would be dismayed if he was alive today. I don’t think he’ll be happy with a monument built with profits from a corporation with abhorrent labor and business practices.
Young's defenders think -- more like hope -- that he has a good reason for doing this:
"This is a case where Wal-Mart is hiring someone to make them look good, but this is someone who will try, through friendly persuasion, to get them to review some of what they're doing," said Margaret Simms, an economist for the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.I don't buy it. If you want to champion the rights of employees, you become the voice of the employees, not the poster boy of the company that mistreats them.
The lowdown is more like this:
Can we say “commodifying credibility?”Consumerist is spot on here, and I totally agree that this move only hurts Andrew Young’s credibility as a civil rights leader.
Not that it hasn’t suffered as it is, considering it’s not the first time he has commoditized it:
Other callers reminded each other that Wal-Mart relentlessly discriminates against women and minorities, ruthlessly crushes unions, and dumps its health care costs onto the public sector while receiving millions in local government subsides and tax abatements for each of its thousands of U.S. stores. Andy Young used to walk with Dr. King. He used to be on our side, more than one observed. Why, they asked, is this happening?You can read more about this outrage from Bruce Dixon’s article entitled Andrew Young: Shameless Son over at Alternet.
I hope Mr. Young reconsiders this association with Wal-Mart before it permanently tarnishes what is left of his reputation and legacy. Otherwise, as Bruce Dixon also pointed out, we should reconsider our ties and deference to him.
As for Wal-Mart, it seems they learned well from the Bush playbook: when you make a mess and get flack for it, don’t straighten things out, go on a PR tour.
Photo: AP/Ric Field
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