White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went to dinner on Friday at a northern Virginia restaurant called the Red Hen. After appetizers were served, restaurant co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told her the restaurant would not serve Sanders because Wilkinson and many of her employees disagree with Sanders’ politics. Sanders and her party left.
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
The next day, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) celebrated that action and other recent attacks on Trump administration officials by calling for more aggression against her political opponents. Below she tells a cheering crowd, “If you think we’re gonna get out of here now you ain’t seen nothing yet,” she said. “We have members of [Trump’s] cabinet that have been booed out of restaurants. We have protesters taking up at their house, saying ‘No peace, no sleep, no peace, no sleep.’ And guess what? We’re gonna win this battle because…God is on our side.”
Maxine Waters calls for attacks on Trump administration: "If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere." pic.twitter.com/jMV7wk48wM
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 24, 2018
She is calling for more and more aggressive manifestations of what the Left has spent the past five or more years insisting is a civil rights violation, dehumanization, an act of bigotry: for a small business owner to decline to serve someone based on differences of belief. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said refusing to sell people what they want to buy is an insufferable indignity worthy of adverse legal action. The key difference in the Sanders incident versus attempts to force people to provide products and services for gay celebrations are the so-called identity groups these two fall into: sexual minorities versus a mainstream political affiliation.
Indeed, according to Wilkinson, the difference is on precisely the same topic as the Left’s forced cake-baking campaign. She said the main reason she refused to serve Sanders was the Trump administration’s reluctance to have taxpayers pay for elective transgenderizing surgery and hormones for soldiers.
“This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” Wilkinson told the Washington Post. Who does that sound like? Gracious me, it sounds like small business owners Jack Phillips and florist Baronelle Stutzman, who were hounded within an inch of their life’s savings and ability to appear in public merely for politely declining commissions to participate in gay weddings through their artistic expression.
This Is Worse than What the Cake Bakers Did
There are three big differences between the Christian artists and people like Wilkinson and the many fashion designers who refuse to dress Melania Trump. First, the Christian artists happily serve and sell to LGBT people. Both Phillips and Stutzman explicitly have done and eagerly offer to continue serving those they disagree with. The only thing they will not do is participate in a religious ceremony with them. Every other commercial transaction is on the table. On the contrary, the Trump political opponents who refuse service will not do so in any fashion. It has nothing to do with religion or a particular context or message for them. They refuse to serve the group they disagree with entirely.
Second, the left’s version of these attacks amps up the aggression. Stutzman, Phillips, and those like them spoke the politest declines of a commission they could think of, using terms of respect and love. These activists are frighteningly aggressive: banging drums in people’s faces in private establishments, screaming at them, deliberately being loud enough to attempt to prevent sleep, surrounding their homes with shouted threats and wildly inaccurate, incendiary accusations: “End Texas concentration camps!” “No border, no wall, sanctuary for all!” “How do you sleep at night?” “Do you hear the babies crying?” “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.” This sort of behavior is aimed at provoking violence, while the Christian artists sought to bring peace to their differences.
Third, the leftists’ objections are political, while the Christians’ objections are moral. The difference here is that, among Christians their duty to God must trump every other consideration. For these leftists, their politics is their religion. It is what determines what they think is right and wrong. For them, religion and politics are one and the same. Waters literally said “God is on our side.” Their philosophy is essentially theocratic. For the Christians, however, their religion is distinct from and much more important than politics and their own self-interest (in not voicing an unpopular opinion or making money from an extra commission).
Red Hen owner explains why she asked Sarah Sanders to leave: “I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.” https://t.co/wDS1Ky5Up5
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) June 24, 2018
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) June 24, 2018
This is yet another unmasking of the truth that mainstream LGBT activists, and the Left in general, are not really about equality, as much as they insist that is so. They are about subversion. They want their preferred identity groups to win, and their opponents’ identity groups to lose. They are not about equal protection under the law, about tolerance, about civility towards people with different ideas. They are about power, about one-upsmanship, about personal destruction.
To them, people who disagree with them are evil, as opposed to merely lacking in information, holding to a different hierarchy of values, or some other such good-faith construction on differences. That’s another exhibition of their political theocracy, because to them politics is not about how to pragmatically solve tangible community needs but about imposing a vision of the ultimate right and wrong, truth and lies, through a power struggle.
For them, politics is a zero-sum game that they want to force anyone who disagrees with them to lose. For those who support the First Amendment freedoms of free exercise of religion, free speech, free expression, and free association, politics is about upholding everyone’s rights equally, even when that means allowing behavior and the expression of ideas we don’t ourselves support.
Here are a litany of tweets by prominent journalists, celebrities, and other Left public figures exhibiting that very dynamic. Many of their viciously partial tweets went viral. Eugene Gu is a columnist for The Hill. He says he supports equal protection under the law — except for his political opponents.
Every human being deserves respect and equal protection under the law. #NYCPride
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 24, 2018
Dear Sarah Sanders,
Thousands of Red Hen fans
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 23, 2018
Unlike Sarah Sanders, Charlotte is a military veteran who was barred from using the restroom and kicked out of the restaurant. That’s what the LGBT have to deal with every single day while Sarah lies to the American people and uses her platform to ruin small business owners. https://t.co/0pTIp74vF4
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 24, 2018
Sarah Sanders chose to be the mouthpiece of a racist administration that rips children from their mothers. But our country’s LGBT, many of whom serve in our military, teach our children, or heal our patients, had no choice in their sexual orientation. Red Hen kicked out a bigot.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 23, 2018
The Washington Post’s “conservative” columnist Jennifer Rubin again takes the easy lefty position by supporting public shunning of Republican presidential administration officials.
She doesn’t get a free pass https://t.co/vBfr5LFxBh
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) June 23, 2018
“If you don’t want to provoke wrath, don’t continue to work for someone whose cruel and inhumane treatment of others rivals the internment of U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II” – @JRubinBlogger #TheResistance https://t.co/TxigDm2sQt
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) June 24, 2018
Scott Dworkin is a Democratic campaign operative and MSNBC contributor.
Forgive me if I don’t think it’s ok for Trump officials to go out for fancy celebratory dinners, while they are committing crimes against humanity.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) June 24, 2018
Sarah Sanders is whining about not being served at the Red Hen restaurant, because she is a terrible person who lies for Trump and hurts this country. Yet, she fought the right for a business to not serve someone because they’re gay. Cry me a river. Go eat at a kkk restaurant.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) June 23, 2018
James Poniewozik is a New York Times television critic. Here’s what he tweeted about Sanders’ eviction.
Dean Obeidallah hosts a SiriusXM radio show and is a columnist for The Daily Beast.
No one should be surprised Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant. Trump officials who defend Trump's bigoted policies, his demonization of minority groups and his lies, are complicit. We will not be silent! My new CNN article: https://t.co/bQ4p8162qJ
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) June 24, 2018
British actor and comic Rob Delaney, whose show “Catastrophe” streams on Amazon Prime, says the following (language warning). Apparently he’s cool with refusing to sell people stuff if you disagree with their politics, but has a major problem with not being allowed to see cheesecake tweets.
I made a free commercial for the Red Hen in Lexington, VA! pic.twitter.com/7wAQVpg62O
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) June 23, 2018
WHAT the fuck pic.twitter.com/wbyp7CNXtw
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) June 22, 2018
Same expression though pic.twitter.com/oiRiEK8qyq
— Dan O'Sullivan (@Bro_Pair) June 23, 2018
Celebrity keyboardist Benmont Tench III makes the precise point about service refusals that many free association and free exercise of religion supporters have been making about Christians declining to participate in gay ceremonies. It works for the Left when the subject is an opponent, not so much when it’s a leftist tribe member.
This isn’t a small thing. This is a turning point. To politely refuse to serve Sanders was absolutely the right action on the part of the owner: beliefs require action. — The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave https://t.co/tTIUA4CK03 pic.twitter.com/psLmSiyX0a
— benmont tench III (@benchten) June 24, 2018
A group that styles itself a Trump resistance grassroots organization fails to see that, unlike hard-left LGBT activists, Sanders did not attempt to use government force to get Red Hen to serve her. She simply left as they asked and informed the public about what happened so they can make their own decisions about whether to patronize the Red Hen. That’s all the Christian artists are asking in their own cases, as well: To be free to live as they choose rather than have government force them to disobey God.
If the LGBT lobby had acted as Sanders did, there would have been no social conflict, no bankrupting government fines, and no high-level court cases. The only hypocrisy here is not from Sanders, but from this “resistance” group that cannot see the obvious distinction between government police power and free, noncoercive speech in the public square.
"Sarah Sanders thinks it’s OK for a business to hang a sign saying they won’t serve gay couples. This is why, on one level, her very public dig at a Virginia restaurant is hypocritical." https://t.co/hv0MkSotyq #LGBTQ
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) June 24, 2018
We see the same inability to make obvious distinctions between government force and noncoercive free speech from self-styled explainer site Vox.
Sarah Sanders is upset a restaurant wouldn’t serve her. She’s OK with it happening to gays. https://t.co/ZHINiOzkbw
— Vox (@voxdotcom) June 24, 2018
Leftist double standards such as these have especially lately begun to spark recriminations from the Right. Americans haven’t forgotten, for example, that feminists were willing to cover for Bill Clinton when he was accused of rape yet dogpiled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore for similarly grotesque accusations. The hypocrisy was even worse for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was tarred and feathered as anti-woman for expressing a desire to hire qualified women.
The Left appears to want broad license for its own tribe members while applying restrictions and recriminations to the Right. People will only put up with this sort of obvious social injustice for so long. This likely accounts for part of the reason restaurants with the same name as the Virginia one that turned Sanders away are getting flooded with hateful phone calls and comments. Of course that’s wrong, and inexcusable. But it’s also not surprising. Destroy the idea of universal natural rights with identity politics, and it unleashes a roving pack of monsters that currently goes by the name of tribalism.
This dynamic is why extending the protections and treatment you wish for yourself to people you may regard as your worst enemies is an extremely good and needed principle. Call it the social equivalent of the military deterrence effect of mutually assured destruction. Nobody wants where this cycle will end up, so it’s best not to start it in the first place.
This is also why we need to stand down from protecting only our various tribes and people we sympathize with and commit to universal principles that apply to everyone equally. In this situation, those would be the free thought protections enshrined in the First Amendment, which the Left has openly abandoned. It’s best to ensure that all people can freely associate and act out their deepest beliefs, regardless of how popular those beliefs are or from what political quarter they usually find more sympathy. The Left and the Right both need to work on extending to others the courtesy and fairness we’d best like applied to ourselves, for the common good.