ANF_LOGOS_Homeless

Do Not Give Abercrombie & Fitch To Homeless People While Boycotting It

By now, many people have heard the quotes from the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch about only wanting cool kids to wear his company’s clothing and that the clothing line purposefully doesn’t carry larger women’s sizes to keep larger women from wearing it. (source)

One man has decided to fight back by finding Abercrombie clothing in thrift stores and giving it to homeless people.

{click here if you can’t see the video}

Greg Karber ends the video with this before calling us to action: “I can’t clothe the homeless or transform a brand without your help…”

And then he invites us to #fitchthehomeless where we clean out our closets and donate all our Abercrombie clothing to our local homeless shelter.

ANF_LOGOS_Homeless

While I understand his motivations are probably well-intentioned and Abercrombie burning defective clothing instead of donating it plays a role, giving boycotted clothing to the homeless is not okay.

If a man came up to me and said, “Abercrombie and Fitch thinks only cool people should wear their clothing so I am going to give it to you for free to transform the brand…” I would be mildly offended because it’s fairly difficult to spin that sentence with anything positive. I don’t consider myself particularly cool, but I’m not into hanging around looking to change a brand into uncool.

But even more telling is the video doesn’t show Karber trying to explain to any homeless person why he is giving them Abercrombie clothing. Did they cut that part or did he just assume: Homeless people = HEY FREE SHIRT? Because #fitchthehomeless certainly isn’t touted as a movement where we stand arm and arm with the homeless against, as he puts it in the opening, “a terrible company.” Why would anyone want to wear clothing by a terrible, unethical, offensive company? Or do only people with homes have ethics?

I once tried to give a homeless man a vegetarian sandwich, which he politely declined, and I felt very conflicted as the people around me snickered and stared. I saw in myself then what I see in Karber and in the many replies to anyone who disagreed with the video. How we assume that a hungry, poor person should just be grateful for our leftovers and our ill-fitting causes. We are allowed to dehumanize them a little because they need more than we do. We can use them, give them whatever we don’t want, and they can only say thank you. We walk away telling ourselves, “They definitely appreciated that.”

The video implies that homeless people shouldn’t have opinions on Abercrombie or coolness or fitting in or being large or CEOs or corporations burning clothing or not being accepted. They aren’t intelligent enough to want to join the fight. They just want free stuff, and we can help them get it while feeling good about not ever wearing A&F again.

Kaber created another class of people within this Abercrombie controversy. It’s not based on looks or size. We (non-homeless) won’t wear Abercrombie anymore. We are purging our closets and our neighbors’ closets and our friends’ closets as the video encourages us to do. Now we have people who can afford to think or act on their ethics, and people who cannot.

And when we are left with a skid row full of homeless human beings wearing Abercrombie and Fitch clothing, we can finally ask ourselves: Are we sticking it to the CEO of a company or just illustrating how blind we really are?

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50 Years Of Government Spending, In 1 Graph

Peace Does Not Begin With A Larger Military

One of the big difference between President Obama and Governor Romney (that has stayed different during these strange changes in Governor Romney’s political stands during the presidential debates) has been about what are our military and defense spending means for our nation and the world.

Romney believes that by having a larger defense, we will be able to create more peace. Might makes right. But does it?

On a smaller scale, I think of neighbors and fences. The higher I make my fence and the more barking dogs I have behind it, the less likely my neighbors are going to believe I want to talk to them or listen to them or not attack them. Yes, they may stay out of my yard. Yes, they may smile at me. But they won’t trust me.

Of course, countries aren’t people although they are run by people and overthrown occasionally by people. And if we want to grow peace and democracy, which both candidates espouse, we need to build trust even from people we don’t like.

In a less touchy-feely sense, our defense budget is already huge.

50 Years Of Government Spending, In 1 Graph
Source: Office of Management and Budget
Credit: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Defense spending has shrunk in the last 50 years, but it continues to be the largest single component of our spending although clearly Social Security is not far behind. However, it is a bad thing to have a country that focuses more of it’s income to take care of our elderly instead of building up a military for the theory that might brings peace? And when compared to other countries, we are overspending on defense as though we are very afraid.

Defence Budgets and Expenditures
Comparative Defense Statistics – Defense Budgets and Expenditures from IISS.org with a detailed explanation here.

Why is it not enough?

Our government is constantly being chastised by conservatives (and rightly so at times) for not using money wisely and well, yet the Pentagon spent $11 million dollars to investigate the use of psychics until 1995 when it was deemed a failure after 20 years, or $238 billion on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which are experiencing severe technological problems because they were rushed into production, not to mention we already had the best fighter planes in the world plus, unmanned aircraft are taking more missions.

I don’t understand the disconnect between a scaled-back government and military spending, which seems like one of the worst offenders. The Department of Defense should learn how to use money wisely, too. The sequestration (i.e., automatic budget cuts explained here) is going to be learning to turn the lights off when they walk out of the Pentagon with the amount of money this department throws away as well as with the ending of two wars. Yet, Romney believes the military needs more money, we all need tax cuts, and to balance the budget, we should cut the programs that help our elderly and poor because that’s the kind of country that seems to have great priorities.

Priority debates aside, what am I missing with his budget plan on defense?  Because the overall picture of Romney’s defense plan seems to be: The United States Department of Defense is allowed to spend money on things we don’t need or plan to ever use because in the end all this might is really to bring peace to the world, which we are saying out loud, but will still work against our enemies.

While the some people like defense contractors may want the world to work this way, it doesn’t. Peace does not begin with guns, controlling the government spending does not begin with having more money to spend, and prioritizing building new ships over the veterans, who once manned the retiring ones, is not an ideal of the country I love.

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