Restaurants are no longer safe spaces for Trump allies
Trump allies like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Mitch McConnell are losing their appetite for cake after getting harassed and kicked out of restaurants.
Being a political figure comes with an expectation of criticism in America, whether from newspaper columnists or Saturday Night Live impressions. But the anger building over the current Republican-controlled administration’s immigration and climate change policies (to name just two) is making it harder for Trump allies to have their cake and eat it, too.
The resistance against the Trump administration’s supporters started small. A man in a MAGA hat got kicked out of a Brooklyn bar in January 2017 and sued claiming his religious freedom was being infringed; a judge ruled for the bar. In recent weeks, Republican politicians and White House officials have been getting heckled and kicked out of restaurants.
Besides having the First Amendment on their side, these restaurants now have the Supreme Court to thank for reinforcing their stance. The recent 7-2 decision found that Colorado bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop was not wrong to refuse making a wedding cake for a gay couple. For protesters, public shaming of Trump allies is a way to vent their anger directly about the administration’s policies until the November mid-term elections.
After taking the heat when the news of migrant families being separated at the U.S. border with Mexico and their children being locked in cages broke on June 14, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped away from the White House podium for a follow-up briefing on June 18.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was hastily flown in to hold what turned out to be an icy press conference, punctuated by a reporter playing video of crying children from a detention center. Nielsen claimed separating families was just following the law and blamed Democrats for not changing the policy — both claims are patently false.
The next night, Nielsen thought it would be totally fine to have dinner at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, a Mexican restaurant near the White House. A group of Metro D.C. Democratic Socialist demonstrators followed her into the restaurant, yelling “Shame!” among other things; patrons also joined in. After 10 minutes, Nielsen left the restaurant.
“We will not stand by and let Secretary Nielsen dine in peace, while she is directing her employees to tear little girls away from their mothers and crying boys away from their fathers at our border,” a DSA member posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Some who defend baker’s right to refuse service to gay couples, whine re ppl refusing service to a person who’s the face of a deceitful Administration. What’s good for the goose, is good for the Red Hen. Difference is, being gay is not a choice. Being an accomplice to Trump, is.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) June 24, 2018
On June 22, White House Communications Director Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave by the owner of a restaurant called the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia “because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” she tweeted.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson told The Washington Post. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
If accountability for administration officials were still a thing, Sanders would be on the hook for violating the restaurant owner’s First Amendment rights by using her official press secretary Twitter account to punish them.
As would President Trump for a tweet bashing the restaurant as “dirty.” For the record, the Red Hen passed its most recent February 2018 inspection with zero violations, while Trump’s own properties racked up dozens of health code violations.
As Scott Pruitt resigns as head of the EPA, he leaves...a former coal lobbyist in charge. It's like a set of toxic nesting dolls, a reference I know our Russian bosses will appreciate.— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) July 7, 2018
Climate change is real, happening faster than we thought, and will cause massive global political unrest and likely worse — within most of our lifetimes. But parents have particular reason to be concerned, and Kristin Mink took hers directly to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who sued the Obama administration over a dozen times over oil and gas regulations and has close ties to energy companies.
In a video that went viral on July 2, Mink, carrying her 2-year-old son, approached Pruitt at a restaurant called Teaism in Washington D.C. to call on him to resign. “This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water. Meanwhile, you’re slashing strong fuel standards for cars and trucks, for the benefit of big corporations,” she told him.
Pruitt resigned four days later on July 5. Administration officials claim the decision was made for him given the many scandals he’s under investigation for.
Look all we want to do is kick a bunch of people out of the country, and get rid of your health insurance, and say and do a bunch of racist and homophonic stuff, and destroy the environment, oh and also can’t you please be nice to us while we do it? -Conservatives— Ashley Nicole Black (@ashleyn1cole) June 23, 2018
As part of larger story of harassment aimed at Trump staffers published on July 9, the Washington Post reported that alt-right instigator and “Trump’s right-hand troll” Stephen Miller told colleagues this story:
“One night, after Miller ordered $80 of takeout sushi from a restaurant near his apartment, a bartender followed him into the street and shouted, “Stephen!” When Miller turned around, the bartender raised both middle fingers and cursed at him.”
Since July 4th, I have received many tweets from the gun lobby accusing me of exploiting Jaime. Below are two pictures of how I used to spend time her and one picture of how I do it now. If anyone has a problem with me fighting for her and the safety of other kids, too bad. pic.twitter.com/28wWRKlYB9— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) July 6, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and two companions were dining at Bristol Bar & Grille in Louisville, Kentucky on July 7. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement protest was taking place nearby at the same time.
According to the Washington Post, someone saw McConnell walk in and posted online; the demonstrators arrived at the restaurant to yell political (“Vote you out!” “Where are the babies, Mitch?”) and personal (“Turtle head!) at the Republican senator as he walked to his car.
The next night, July 8, McConnell was once again heckled out of another Louisville restaurant, Sarino, by a group that came over from a nearby bar's trivia night. The host announced that McConnell was dining nearby, and protesters gathered outside the restaurant chanting “No justice, no peace” while blasting Fight the Power by Public Enemy. A few even made it inside, including one with a megaphone, but were escorted out by staff. McConnell left the restaurant through the back exit.
One thing I know for sure: no one on the right side of history has ever had to nitpick what the definition of “cage” is.— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) June 19, 2018
From the same Washington Post story: “The president himself leads a cloistered existence, never visiting a restaurant or golf club other than the ones he owns or controls.”
And before anyone calls for civility, let’s remember that the people who subscribe to the alt-right version of “reality” manufactured by Alex Jones and Fox News confront people in a restaurant with guns, not words.