I believe in the Golden Rule.
While I am not a biblical scholar, I learned this religious lesson from the great teacher and philosopher who said unto the men who constantly chased, persecuted and tormented him simply because of who he was:
It ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun. —Bugs Bunny
Human nature dictates that most people will usually continue to treat people poorly until they get a taste of their own medicine. I believe that very few people change until they are forced by circumstance, the universe or deez hands to see the error of their ways.
I am often told that turning the other cheek is better than an eye for an eye. But everyone who ever told me that had two eyes. Their cheeks were never stinging from just having been slapped. How the hell would they know?
On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was jeered by protesters as she attempted to dine at a Washington, D.C., Mexican restaurant. A few days later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was refused service by the owner of a Virginia restaurant.
Many people were outraged at the treatment these Trump-administration officials received. They postulated that we should be kind and decent to people, even if we disagree with them politically. Ex-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted his disapproval by kindly referring to the owner of the Red Hen as a fool.
According to the prevailing narrative expressed by citizens from across the political spectrum, ostracizing people because of their political beliefs is a slippery slope that could lead to business owners selectively choosing whom they will or won’t serve.
I agree with those people. Republicans gotta eat, too. This country should not devolve into a place where our personal preferences become scarlet letters that determine how we navigate the world. I’m sure America would not allow that to happen in the land of the free.
(Sidenote: This piece will refrain from mentioning the North Carolina bathroom law, the recent Supreme Court homophobic bakery decision, the Freedom Riders, sit-ins, Jim Crow, the NBA and Super Bowl champions disinvited from the White House, or the people elbowed in the throat at Donald Trump rallies.)
But that’s not what happened here.
Kirstjen Nielsen was not heckled for what she believes. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was not booted from the restaurant because of her politics. They were singled out because of things they actually did. And that is the difference.
As DHS secretary, Nielsen was the person responsible for implementing the Trump administration’s ethnic cleansing plan of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents and throwing them into internment camps.
Not only was she silent as she listened to Donald Trump refer to African and Caribbean nations as “shithole countries,” but she sat in front of Congress and lied about it. Even after other lawmakers reported the remark, she looked them in their faces and said she hadn’t heard it. She called the comment “strong language” and “general profanity.”
It is impossible to believe that Nielsen doesn’t know that undocumented immigrants commit less crime than native-born American. Yet Nielsen, the department she heads and the administration for which she works continue to promote the racist lie that their new-millennium gestapo is keeping America safe from murderers and rapists by enacting a zero tolerance immigration policy.
Huckabee Sanders is also complicit in pushing that racist narrative. She describes the policy as “biblical.” She lied to the press when she said that the Obama administration started the immigration policy.
Huckabee Sanders called on ESPN to fire Jemele Hill for calling Trump a white supremacist. She asked White House correspondent April Ryan to “stop talking” when Ryan asked about the Trump administration’s position on the NFL protests.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen work for an administration that actively discriminates against people of color. They don’t simply sit back and allow it to happen; they are responsible for pushing a government-sponsored white nationalist agenda that casts people of color as a threat and a shame to this country.
It is the height of privilege and hypocrisy to cry salty white tears when they are dismissed from a restaurant after they support kicking nonwhite people out of an entire country. They are only reaping what they sow (I’m pretty sure Bugs Bunny made up that phrase, too).
But there is a greater question here:
Why shouldn’t Nielsen and Huckabee Sanders be ostracized by the people they victimize? Why should the people who promote racism, xenophobia and injustice expect immunity from the repercussions of their actions? Not their beliefs, but their actions.
Isn’t that the ultimate form of protest? Isn’t that the universal law?
Furthermore, why is it that people who are subjected to discrimination and abuse are always asked to take the high road? If a business owner believes in treating people fairly, why should he or she be forced to cater to people who advocate for white supremacy? Why are the people who protest inequality always vilified more than the people who actually practice it?
A Black Lives Matter T-shirt is scorned more than a “Make America Great Again” hat. This administration paints people who protest police brutality as “black supremacists” and “terrorists,” but white supremacist marchers have a “side.”
People like Huckabee Sanders, Nielsen and the members of the entire Trump administration should be confronted by the public they serve and the people they marginalize. If I worked at the Red Hen, I would have lied to Huckabee Sanders about everything on the menu. And if she objected, I would have told her to “stop talking.”
I would have told the workers at the Mexican eatery to snatch Kirstjen Nielsen’s kids, lock them in the bathroom and tell her we were trying to make the restaurant great again.
I know that sounds mean.
But my lord and savior Bugs Bunny would approve.