The correct choice and the one you want to make are not always one in the same. This week progressives were faced with just such a decision. It took me a bit to figure out the correct option. Let’s explore.
Late in the weekend the news broke that a Virginia restaurant had asked Sarah Huckabee-Sanders to leave, effectively refusing to serve her and her party of seven companions. The reason was solely because of her association with the Trump administration. This was not an isolated incident. Several other high profile Trump administration people or allies have run into similar situations.
I do not feel sorry for Sanders or any of the others. Their personal behavior has often been reprehensible and the defense of the Trump administration is equally shameful. The lack of character, moral judgement and integrity is appalling in all their cases. However they chose the high profile positions and with fame comes a cost. I remember witnessing a Hall of Fame quarterback – who I personally knew to be a good guy – trying to simply eat a burger and wash it down with a beer being interrupted for autographs. He very accommodatingly and signed his name to various items, but I know all he wanted to do was eat in peace like the rest of us were able to. He realized that with the fame came the attention (in his case fans). (Lucky for him this was in the days prior to selfies.)
I, like almost everyone else, have the two mythical angels atop my shoulders whispering competing messages into either ear. My first reaction was to cheer for the restaurant that kicked Sanders out. I spend a decent amount of time in Northern Virginia and the first thing I did was google the restaurant’s location to see how close I got to it with the goal of patronizing it in mind. (I do believe that deciding where to spend my money based, in part, on whether I am funding friend or foe is both my right and smart.)
Some have suggested that progressives take every opportunity to confront Trump administration officials and allies in public settings to make them know their actions and those of the President are unpopular. They are actually calling on people to refuse to serve them or make the experience so uncomfortable that they leave. My bad angel likes that!
My good angel had a much different perspective in mind. My good angel asked me to view the situation along the lines of the public accommodations provision in the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. For nearly the last two decades I have lived in the South which was once home to overt racial discrimination and segregation. My sitting at the same restaurant table with a black person would have been illegal prior to 1964 and certainly socially unacceptable for a bit of time after that. I have friends and family that are considered unacceptable by many; thankfully our current laws and norms allow me to dine with them in public accommodations. Prior to this legislation it was a challenge for non-Caucasians to find a place to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom when they were away from home.
As much as I might lack any respect for the Trump supporters and enablers they have the same right to public accommodations as I or any other citizen, or tourist for that matter, has. The owner of a business is entitled to his or her opinions (and I often take them into consideration when deciding whether or not to patronize their place of business) but once they open the door it has to be open to all regardless of race, gender, religion, creed, political philosophy, sexual orientation or sexual preference. As long as people conduct themselves in a mannerly fashion they are entitled to be treated equally.
Michelle Obama gave me the words on which to base this decision, “When they go low; we go high.” Taking the high road is always the winner in the long run. Regardless of how despicable the other side’s acts may be, resist your evil angel and follow the wise woman.
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