White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was served, according to a Facebook post by her waiter, for about two minutes before the owner of the Red Hen restaurant about 180 miles outside of Washington D.C. approached her, and asked her and to leave. Sanders and her family left without incident.
“I just served Sarah huckabee sanders [sic] for a total of 2 minutes,” the server, Jaike Foley-Schultz posted, “before my owner asked her to leave and she complied. Her family left on their own accord, we didn’t actually refuse service or ‘kick her out.’”
Huckabee-Sanders’ account, posted to her official White House Press Secretary Twitter account, read “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.”
Meanwhile, in a bizarre and unfortunate twist, a completely unaffiliated restaurant inside the city of Washington D.C. of the same name has been caught in the crossfire. Politically motivated Yelp “reviewers”, both for and against the Trump Administration, are mistakenly attacking and defending the DC restaurant. But to be clear, it is the Virginia restaurant with the same name that asked Sanders to leave.
The whole bruhaha is Ironic on may fronts, given that earlier this month, on the 4th, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Liberals had denounced the baker since the case came to light and denounced the ruling this month. But now liberals on Yelp are applauding the (wrong) restaurant for denying service to someone because of their beliefs, and conservatives are attacking the same wrong restaurant for the same thing done by another restaurant of the same name, 180 miles away.
Of course, as White House Press Secretary, Huckabee-Sanders had been vocal about that Supreme Court ruling earlier this month. And what she had to say leaves little room to pity her after she, herself, found herself denied service for being who she is and doing what she does.
“We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” Sanders had said, “The First Amendment prohibits government from discriminating against the basis of religious beliefs, and the Supreme Court rightly concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show tolerance and respect for his religious beliefs. In this case and others the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom First Amendment rights.”
NBC’s Peter Alexander questioned that statement, pointing out the hypocrisy of the White House position on a related matter, NFL players taking a knee. “So if the White House supports the baker’s right of free speech,” Alexander asked, “why doesn’t the White House support the players’ right to free speech?”
“The president doesn’t think that this is an issue simply of free speech,” Sanders replied. “He thinks it’s about respecting the men and women of our military, it’s about respecting our national anthem, and it’s about standing out of pride for that.”
So, freedom of speech yes, except when predominantly black people are doing it, or the issue being protested for are black lives mattering, or when you can somehow twist it to call it disrespect of our military, or brutal police, or other symbols of the authorities, or the symbols of patriotism, and then freedom of speech, no? Apparently. Which is pretty messed up, considering that the military fights to protect that freedom of speech, and the symbols of patriotism are about celebrating them, and the police are supposed to enforce and uphold the law, not be above it. Even the words of the national anthem celebrate the “land of the free” – except, apparently, if you take a knee. Got it.
So, here we are. We have a broadly dishonest, hypocritical White House Press Secretary ironically kicked out of a food service establishment, and acting vengefully about it despite her own full throated defense of the practice weeks earlier. And we have a bunch of people flipping on the issue to attack the wrong restaurant on Yelp.
Can this get any more screwed up? Yup. Because in using her official White House Press Secretary account to get her revenge, Huckabee-Sanders crossed a line that public officials shouldn’t cross. Imagine the cacophony that would have roared out of the right wing noise machine had anyone in the upper echelons of the Obama administration done such a thing? And moreoover, this isn’t the first time Huckabee-Sanders has crossed that line. Indeed, when she did it before it was for much more insidious reasons.
This wasn’t the only time a Trump Administration official recently found themselves unwelcome in a restaurant, as DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was driven out of a Mexican restaurant by protesters shouting “shame”, over her role in carrying out and denying family separation of immigrants, including caging children without their parents. Which has caused a public outcry so intense that Trump signed an executive order watering down his own policy (although he dishonestly insists it was a Democrat policy).
So, should Sarah Huckabee-Sanders have been kicked out of a restaurant because of her politics? It would seem the Supreme Court says yes. But I say no. Just as I think the baker should have baked a lovely cake and left it at that, I think the Virginia Red Hen should have served Huckabee-Sanders and her party as well as they could. Professionals should be professionals and leave the politics, and the personal vengeance, out of it. Not to do so, is unprofessional. And so both the owners of that Virginia Red Hen, and the White House Press Secretary, were grossly unprofessional in their conduct.
That said, if I were Huckabee-Sanders, Nielsen, or bride or groom being told by a food service establishment that my business wasn’t welcome, honestly, I’d rather be told I wasn’t welcome and given the chance to take my business elsewhere, than to eat goodness knows what might be in my food. So maybe instead of seeking revenge against the restaurant that told her she was unwelcome, Huckabee-Sanders should be grateful they did. Just a little food for thought…
Edward Lynn is a photographer, a graphic and web designer, a writer, an activist, a son, a brother, and a parent, just trying to do some good in the world we all have to live in. More posts by Edward Lynn.