by Caleb Talley
What’s good for the goose is for the gand– er, Red Hen?
Last weekend, everyone’s collective knickers got knotted when Trump mouthpiece and Arkansas native Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant by the venue’s owner because of her affiliation with the president’s administration.
The incident (obviously) sparked criticism from the right. And though plenty of the left celebrated the restaurant owner’s actions – like crazy Auntie Maxine, who told Democrats to double down – there were those who voiced some halfhearted disapproval.
Some of the more politically enlightened Democrats correctly predicted the move would help Trump, acknowledging that it would embolden his base and help them employ even more of the divisionist rhetoric they’ve leaned on from day one – us vs. them. They were right. And the actual fake newsers pounced on the opportunity to spin discord, too.
She may be a hero to bubble-dwelling beatniks, but what Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson did last weekend was pretty dumb. And not because of what she did but because of what followed. The only constructive consequence of her action was that it brought us back around to the topic of civility.
Oh, civility. Where do I even begin?
I agree wholeheartedly that there needs to be a serious injection of civility in our political interactions. I’ve agreed when the left has called for it and when the right has called for it. And I agree, once again, with the calls for civility in the aftermath of this unimportant, non-newsworthy event. I’ve practically screamed it from the rooftops for the last two or three years, while simultaneously beating my head against a brick wall.
But if we’re going to preach civility to somebody across the aisle, it’s probably a good idea to live it, too, right? For just once, can the rules apply to both Democrats and Republicans at the same time and not just when it’s politically expedient?
Remember Chris McMurray? Yeah, I didn’t think so. In 2012, McMurray, owner of Virginia-based bakery Crumb and Get It, declined to serve Vice President Joe Biden and his staff, citing disagreements with the Obama-Biden administration.
Republicans ate it up – no pun intended – celebrating McMurray in the same fashion liberals have Wilkinson. The Drudge Report put him on the political map, and much of the conservative media followed suit. The Republican National Committee celebrated him, and then-vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan invited him to speak at a campaign rally.
Civility? Eh, tribal loyalty is clearly more important. But when the shoe is on the other foot, all hell breaks loose.
Take, for example, the Colorado baker who refused to accommodate a same-sex couple for their wedding on the grounds of his religious beliefs. The left went into a frenzy, taking the shop owner all the way to the Supreme Court over his decision.
Is refusing to serve someone over religious objections less viable than refusing to serve someone because of who they lie for– I mean, work for?
Personally, I believe a business has the right to refuse service to whomever they please, whether it’s McMurray and his cookies, a Colorado cake maker or the Red Hen proprietor. This is America. If I don’t want to serve you, beat it. But, the freedom to make that call doesn’t come without consequences. If you’re willing to turn someone away for whatever reason, you have every right to be criticized and boycotted, too.
But back to civility…
If we’re going to ask it of our so-called political adversaries, then we better demonstrate it when given the opportunity. So, it’s hard to take seriously an administration demanding civility that has never once shown it.
How much civility has been shown at Trump rallies? You know, like the ones this week in South Carolina and North Dakota, where the president mocked and insulted, and the press was met with hostility and screamed obscenities from the crowd – many of the same people who, I’m sure, demanded Sarah Sanders be treated better at restaurants.
Is it civil to mock reporters, even ones with disabilities, when they critizise the president? Is it civil the attack First Amendment protections? Is it civil to treat foreign dictators better than bordering allies or American companies? Is it civil to lie and bully on Twitter?
Is it civil to declare the media the enemy of the state, inciting lunatics to follow through with threats against journalists, gunning them down in their own office? (A lot more on that soon…)
You get the picture.
While no party has the moral high ground (they both suck), I don’t think the Trump administration or their loyal supporters are in any place to demand civility from the rest of America. Let’s cut the crap.
I can’t be the only American sick to death of all the hypocrisy. If we stopped viewing everything through our hyper partisan beer goggles, we’d probably all be a little better off. Next time you’re told to be upset about something, pause, and consider how you’d feel if the shoe were on the other foot.
Did a conservative do something trivial that upset you? Think – would you have cared had it been a liberal? Did an objective article about a Democrat somehow make its way into your echo chamber? Breath – would you have reacted the same way had it been about a Republican?
If your answer to either of those questions was no, do better.
Let’s just all be civil, okay?
In Cash & Candor, Arkansas Money & Politics / AY Magazine Editor Caleb Talley aims to shoot it straight when it comes to business and politics in and around the Natural State. Talley comes to AMP by way of the Arkansas Delta, where he called balls and strikes at the Forrest City Times-Herald. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more Cash & Candor here.