Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

The history of this American nation is written on the backs of people of various places, of various backgrounds, coming together for a common purpose. E pluribus unum! Out of many, one. As a people, we are often told not to hold someone’s background against them. To meet someone as your brother or sister and accept them, as they would accept you.

This was common thinking before the world became a little more complicated after November 8th. Now, a little-known website has set its aim and a boycott at a local business while drawing a clear line as to who can be supported and who must be cast aside. Lost in the moment is the very real American notions of individualism and the livelihoods of thousands of workers.

For those who do not know the story, a website in California is calling for a boycott involving LL Bean and one of their board members, Linda Bean. Linda, you see, had the temerity to support the President-Elect. She made contributions to a political action committee just like thousands of others did during the election cycle.

This one act, has set in motion a call to arms to stop buying merchandise from Beans Never mind that is has been reported that at the same time Linda Bean is being roughed up, other board members from the company made contributions to various other candidates.

It is no secret, to those who pay attention to such matters, that Linda Bean has supported various Republican candidates for office through the years. When doing so Linda Bean never spoke for the company, nor did she impress upon people that the money was being given by the company. The support was being given by Linda Bean whose grandfather happened to make a really good boot.

The real rub of this story though is the potential for real harm to be had by the employees of companies with which Linda Bean is associated. There are hundreds of employees that rely upon Linda Bean or the LL Bean company for their paycheck. Some of these employees may have agreed with Linda’s choice of candidates. Some may not have agreed. Such is our way of political engagement. Everyone was free to choose their support just like Linda Bean did.

It is wrong though to hold everyone accountable for what one person may have done. Since when did guilt by association become an acceptable model? The very people calling for the boycott must not have heard the comment, “when they go low, we go high.”

If the boycott were to persist and really damage the LL Bean brand would the worker who is sewing the uppers of the Maine Hunting Shoe to the rubber soles, feel better because someone in California has made their mark against their nemesis? No, the worker would be concerned about how long this will last. The same for the workers who supply goods to the manufacturers of the items that are sold in the store, online and in catalogs.

Furthermore, the workers in other establishments who rely on their sales to the workers at Beans could see a dip in their earnings, neighbors everyone. All at risk because someone was upset that someone they never met, nor interacted with took part in a very American endeavor and supported a political candidate.

Is the boycott even having a desired effect? I don’t know. There are scores of companies that have exacted the ire of the website that started this kerfuffle. Some of the companies are the most profitable in the world and seem to be doing just fine. In time, this too shall blow over, I suspect, once the public has tired of hearing a boycott in the news.

As to my own insights on the boycott, I took some time this past weekend to do a little experiment. Around Maine Street I went in search of apparel. What I found was that for a cold, dark winter’s evening there were plenty of Bean’s boots roaming our fair town. Young and old alike, adorned in the iconic dark brown sole and light brown leather of the famous shoe were out and about. No boycott to be seen.

This endeavor is ill placed but, if you are still inspired to take part in the boycott of Bean’s goods and already have a pair of new or gently used men’s size 12 Bean’s Boots please contact me by email and I assure you that I will dispose of them properly after many years of use.

Full Disclosure: I have met Linda Bean. When I met her she was warm and friendly and not the monster that she has been made out to be. She was and is a Mainer through and through. She is someone who personally, like millions of others, decided to support a cause she felt was important. For this act, she is being excoriated.

That’s my two cents, again…

Jonathan Crimmins is a Brunswick resident and can be reached at j_ [email protected]

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