When I walked into the Chik-fil-A restaurant on Gunbarrel Road at 8:30 on Wednesday morning, I felt a rush of pride almost overwhelm me and, for a second or two, I thought I may not be able to speak – that’s how emotional it was when “America’s Silent Roar” grabbed me as I silently stood in line in support of a person’s right to believe as they choose.
As we have just learned, the American people quietly rewarded the country’s 1,600 Chik-fil-A restaurants with an unprecedented “record-setting day” after former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee whistled up the troops. His call was in response to scathing remarks by the liberal left that came after Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy admitted he was “guilty as charged” to running a pro-family business and that he personally is opposed to same-sex marriage.
All across the country America’s Silent Roar was seen. Some Chik-fil-A locations literally ran out of food. A huge franchise chain of Wendy’s Hamburger stores in North and South Carolina changed their marquees to read, “We Stand With Chik-fil-A” and police units in various cities were dispatched, just to help with snarled traffic. It was absolutely magnificent. As one patron put it, “A very calm madness – everybody is orderly but they are here.”
Now the biggest question, as voters in Tennessee went to the polls on Thursday, is whether any politicians noticed. Only a fool could fail to see the reaction to Huckabee’s Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day was much more than just a turnout for free speech. The great majority of Americans want their country back. Many feel that they have bent over so far backwards to appease the small-percentage special interest groups that the country’s tail is now wagging the dog.
For example, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – once Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff – quickly railed that “Chik-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values” but on Wednesday, when thousands waited for up to two hours for sandwiches at all locations, it appeared the mayor was badly mistaken. One man told the Chicago Sun-Times he was a liberal, an atheist, and a supporter of same sex marriage but was there “because the government has no right to tell me what to believe!”
Entertainer Jon Stewart, appearing on “The Daily Show,” gigged Emanual with the words, “We are Chicago – a city built on gambling, corruption, murder and stuffing the ballot box. But not intolerance!”
And then came Cardinal Francis George, the powerful head of the huge Archdiocese of Chicago: “Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the ‘values’ that must be held by citizens of Chicago,” George wrote on the Archdiocese of Chicago's blog Sunday. “I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval,” he added. “Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also missed the message. “Los Angeles has one of the most vibrant LGBT communities in this country,” Villaraigosa said. “I'm proud to support them as we call on Chick-fil-A's leadership to reconsider their position and join the growing majority of Americans who support marriage equality. In Los Angeles and in America, love and liberty will always triumph."
He, too, was promptly chastised by an angry public. “The mayor of LA is crazy!” wrote one blogger. “I don’t support same-sex marriage and he’s setting himself up for failure. Marriage is God-ordained between and man and a woman.” Another fiery responder wrote, “Who asked for the Mayor's opinion? He needs to mind his own business!”
But the best comments came from those who stood patiently and quietly in line for two hours in the Southern California sun. "The ability for a company to be able to believe what they want to believe and still have their doors open to whoever wants to or chooses to give their business — that's why I'm here," said Vicki Parsons. "Yes, I am a Christian, but my strongest support stems from being a business owner. I want to believe what I want to believe and not be condemned for what I believe, and give people the freedom of choice, if they want to do business with us."
In Laguana Niguel, 57-year-old Ed Vattter added, “I'm not against gay rights by any means, but I think this guy is getting a bad rap," he said of Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. “Plus, the food's pretty good!"
Chik-fil-A is privately owned, so we’ll never know how many people, chickens or dollars came into play on Appreciation Day but it is strikingly obvious the American public isn’t going to be shouted down by the dissidents among us much longer. That Silent Roar you hear wants more than chicken. It wants its country back.