A long-debunked (and often-deleted) piece of “satire” about the Target retail chain was inspired by a real-life intimidation campaign that continues to this day.
The allegedly-humorous National Report blog published a piece in May 2016 pushing the claim that Target had “discontinued” sales of the Bible. The original piece has been deleted from the blog but as so often happens, other fringe sites republished it verbatim with no mention of National Report’s nature or disclaimer for its content.
The post claimed that Target chief executive officer Brian Cornell had revealed in a television interview that the Bible would no longer be sold by the retail chain:
Speaking with CNBC, Cornell cited recent protests from what he calls “religious extremists” as the reason to pull the bible from its shelves. “Target will no longer cater to religious extremists,” said Cornell. “If that means removing the bible from our shelves, then so be it.” Cornell said the big box chain is “sticking to its guns” regarding their bathroom policy, and will be phasing out anything having to do with religion. “We believe that everyone, every team member, every guest, and every community, deserves to be treated equally, regardless of their religious beliefs.”
It is true that Target was targeted by right-wing “Christian” groups after announcing that it would allow transgender shoppers to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. A video that circulated online at the time showed a woman protesting the policy by parading around a Target store. As Pink News reported:
The video of the woman’s protest was posted to YouTube on Saturday, with the caption: “With Bible in hand and family in tow this mother warns target of their evil evil sins.”
The women who is holding a Bible in her hand, starts her attack from what appears to be the middle of the store.
She says: “Attention Target customers! Do not be deceived, Target would have you believe what their Mother’s Day displays that they love mothers and children! This is a deception! This is not love and they’ve proven it by opening their bathrooms to perverted men!”
Cornell did, in fact, respond after an online petition calling for a boycott against Target amassed 1.2 million signatures:
Cornell, appearing Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” confirmed the company would not be reversing its policy. He called to mind the civil rights movement of the 1960s by evoking Target’s past in using African American models in its advertising when it was socially unpopular to do so.
“We’ve had a long history of embracing diversity and inclusion,” Cornell said. “A couple of weeks ago, one of our team members sent me a note reminding me that if we went back to the mid-60s, our company was one of the very first to use African American models in their advertising. And back then, you know, it wasn’t well received. We had a lot of tough feedback, but sitting here today, we know we made the right decision.”
As of May 31 2023, there are still several Bible and Bible-related products available at Target.
However, the company continues to be targeted in the name of discrimination — and the pressure campaigns are now working.
As we have previously reported, Target pulled merchandise promoting Pride — the celebration of LGBTQ+ rights — after purported threats to employees. That decision came amid threats ranging from boycotts to stochastic violence and legislation targeting LGBTQ+ Americans.
“It’s a very dangerous precedent to set, that if people just get riled up enough about the products that you’re selling, you can completely distance yourself from the LGBT community, when and if it’s convenient,” said Erik Carnell, a transgender man whose designs were part of Target’s Pride line in 2023.
“If you’re going to take a stance and say that you care about the LGBT community, you need to stand by that regardless.”
The Post further reported in June 2023 that even after capitulating to right-wing mob mentality, harassment against Target employees has continued to escalate:
At the Target in South Florida, shoppers have called employees “child groomers,” a far-right slang term for pedophiles, and accused them of “shoving your woke agenda down our throats,” according to the manager who spoke to The Washington Post.
When he donned a bright safety vest over his company-issued Pride-themed T-shirt to help a customer carry goods to his car, the shopper looked at him and said, “Oh, is that so I could shoot you easier?”
Stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah were also reportedly targeted by bomb threats related to Pride merchandise.
Update 5/31/2023, 10:13 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag
Update 6/5/2023, 11:09 a.m. PST: Updated to reflect further reporting on threats against Target stores. — ag