After Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave Stephanie Wilkinson’s Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, I caught myself mixing two childhood favorite stories.I found myself feeling as if I am very much alone and asking, ‘Who’s willing to work with me?’ only to frustratingly feel like giving up and declaring, ‘Fine! I’ll do it myself. ‘ Then my tumultuous feelings and opinions made me wonder am being like Henny Penny instead of the Little Red Hen? Am I clamoring about the sky falling while misinterpreting the facts of the situation?
I shared on Facebook .clip of an ABC News conference of Ms. Huckabee-Sanders’ reaction to the incident along with my own editorial comments. I expected comments because, like me, plenty people in my Facebook circles have definite opinions about the current presidential administration. I didn’t however anticipate the uh… enthusiasm my post would generate particularly from a few folks with whom I usually agree. I clearly planted myself in the middle of the current .(ongoing) public debate on civility and civil protest in our country today. Not the first time, not the last. Again.
Succinctly, I proposed that perhaps asking Ms. Huckabee Sanders to leave the Red Hen instead of serving her was not the the most prudent thing. I think denying someone the opportunity to dine in restaurant counters the civil rights gains that featured prominently in my early childhood in the early 60s. My thought is, how does one decide whom to include and whom to exclude? The current president, whom I try to not name in my own act of disapproval and disappointment, was buoyed into office, in my opinion by attitudes supported by underlying prejudice and bigotry. Ms. Huckabee Sanders definitely plays a role in maintaining the platform and playing to the president’s base. The Red Hen incident allows Ms Huckabee Sanders to play the victim of being unfairly treated. Was she? Not exactly. Maybe.
When do we call ‘Enough! ‘ nowadays? And how? Can a restaurant owner deny to admit me to their establishment if I am wearing my orange Enough t-shirt in support of reasonable gun control because she thinks I’m too left wing to patronize her business ? Am I too much a part of a leftist conspiracy to promulgate ‘fake news’ if I wear my ‘Journalism Matters’ t-shirt in public? My list could include the the Equal Rights symbol stuck to my walker. But can I be denied just because I have walker anyway let alone what I wear or what I stick on it?
I admit a taste of Schadenfruede upon hearing Ms.Huckabee Sanders was denied her repast. Yet is her notoriety grounds for such refusal? Yes, I get why and support why Ms Wilkinson and her staff felt an obligation to say ‘You represent a president and policies we cannot abide.’
Yet, I wasn’t surprised by what was served up next. The Press Secretary taking her case to the polls of social media followed by a Twitter blast from her boss disparaging Ms. Wilkinson and her establishment. Neither of those retorts really were merited especially the Tweet from the Twitterer in the Oval Office. From the surface Ms.Wilkinson handled the situation with courtesy and grace. Her point was made . I applaud and say Amen.
But, I wonder, and here’s the point even my cohorts on FB missed or misconstrued.
What if… Ms. Wilkinson had said, “ Please feel welcome to enjoy your meal. However my staff and I don’t agree with you or what you represent. We want to be clear and to be heard and welcome you to hear us out as you dine.” Who knows? Maybe that is how it played out.
Either way, I suspect the outcome would have Ms.Huckabee leaving (politely, yes) then claiming it was wrong. Was it?
For the record, even if my two good friends who ardently disagreed with me still insist I need to put civility aside, I think I am right. Yes, we must hold the president, his press secretary and others party to the current fiasco accountable. But, I am not obligated to be uncivil by any means in my dissent. No, I didn’t need reminders of djt mocking Serge Kovaleski. No, by desiring to have dialogue even at this point in the game (shall I say meal) with anyone who works for, voted for or otherwise supports this administration, I am not a collaborator.
Otherwise you’re saying ‘baking a cake for a gay wedding is participating in the wedding’; it ISN’ T.
All I am saying is, maybe this time an opportunity was missed. No, I wouldn’t want a person in full Nazi regalia sitting next to me in public or private anymore than he would want me there.
I ‘get the urgency’ behind my friends’ positions and Representative Maxine Waters’ call for calling out the perpetrators of the assault on our country.
Yet, ratcheting up the clamor so far brings out the shit slingers ( The Red Hen did have feces flung at it and no, there was no evidence the restaurant was dirty as the president tweeted (he was WRONG and as usual out of place). In essence I do see the ‘sky falling.’ And it’s not a squirrel in a tree at fault ( a private reference made to something comical which did happen to a friend recently which can readily be imagined).
It started with believing an unqualified narcissist, who blatantly mocked a reporter with a disability, who incites violence against journalists but feigns shock and grief when a white man with a gun kills 4 people employed by The Capital Gazette et al (the list grows longer), being elected president. He has served up a hot mess. I only wish no one would have bought it. But, when and how can we ever provide the ‘longer table ‘ progressives frequently promote as an alternative to a wall if we refuse to eat or serve with those who (need to) come to the table?
We can’t fix America if we only talk at each other no matter how loudly or persistently or certainly not if we refuse to hear one another or worse don’t speak at all.
I’m ready to plant . Who’s ready to help? Let’s get going before the sky falls.
Rodef Shalom: Peace, Peace You Shall Pursue – OU Torah
— Read on www.ou.org/torah/parsha/parsha-from-ou/rodef-shalom-peace-peace-you-shall-pursue/