This Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed that she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant because she works for President Trump. Sanders was obviously livid, saying that the owner’s actions “say far more about her than about me.” It was an unprecedented example of a government official using their platform to air a personal grievance about a private citizen. But, this is Trumpland and here we are.
Speaking to The Washington Post, the owner of Red Hen restaurant, Stephanie Wilkinson, explained that her decision was based on the fact that Sanders represents a “inhumane and unethical” administration.
Responding to her ouster, Sanders took to Twitter and called out the restaurant by name — even mentioning its location — and played up her victimhood to her more than 3 million followers.
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. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
“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. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” she tweeted.
But Wilkinson was unapologetic.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson told the Post. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
“…uphold their morals.”
Just hours after oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case concluded last December, where a Colorado baker argued to the Supreme Court that his religion allows him to refuse service to gay people, Sanders affirmed the White House’s support for “religious liberty.” But it didn’t stop there. During the December press briefing, Michael Shear of The New York Times asked Sanders the following question:
“The lawyer for the solicitor general’s office for the administration said today in the Supreme Court if it would be legal, possible for a baker to put a sign in his window saying we don’t bake cakes for gay weddings,. Does the president agree that that would be OK?”
“The president certainly supports religious liberty and that’s something he talked about during the campaign and has upheld since taking office,” Sanders replied.
When asked if that would include support for signs that deny service to gay people, Sanders responded, “I believe that would include that.”
.@PressSec says that @realDonaldTrump's support of "religious liberty" would include a baker putting a sign in the window saying, "We don't bake cakes for gay weddings" #MasterpieceCakeshop pic.twitter.com/BES376f2V8
— GLAAD (@glaad) December 5, 2017
Fast forward to June 23, 2018, where Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant due to the owner’s “moral” convictions. Sanders, who is a public official and not a member of a minority protected class, didn’t apply this same standard to herself.
I’m not here to argue that the restaurant owner was right to do what she did (I shared some thoughts on this in a Facebook post today). I am here to highlight the blatant hypocrisy that drips from Sanders’ decision to use her public platform as a government official to shame the restaurant’s owner for doing what she believed was morally right. Businesses should offer their services to anyone willing to pay for them (provided they aren’t wearing a Nazi armband or pose a serious threat). Sanders apparently doesn’t share that belief — except when it’s her.
Writing for Vox, Laura McGann highlights the contradiction perfectly.
On another level, restaurant-gate is an example of the Trump administration’s unique commitment to courting divisiveness. Donald Trump doesn’t even pretend to speak to or for all Americans. Rhetorically, there hasn’t been a more disrespectful administration in 150 years. But when Sanders wants dinner, the White House is all for mutual respect. Either way, the base laps it up.
Speaking to the Post, Wilkinson said that she “would have done the same thing again.”
“We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”
In Trump’s America, moral convictions should only benefit the agenda of the White House. It’s a dangerous precedent that’s only possible because there’s cult of followers who will always give it 100 percent cover.
Featured image via Twitter