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Defiant: Restaurant Owner Who Tossed Sarah Sanders Pretty Much Says Conservatives Still Aren’t Welcome

AP Photo/Daniel Lin

When former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was tossed out of the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia last year, the establishment faced an immense backlash. For a time, there were concerns that the incident could torpedo the tourist industry, prompting the city to launch a massive effort to try and rehabilitate its image. In the end, the impact was minimal in the sense that the vast majority polled knew about the Sanders incident, but it did not impact their view on whether to visit the city or not. Now, in 2019, the owner of the Red Hen penned an op-ed, where she said that Trump officials should find another place to dine, preferably at home (via WaPo) [emphasis mine]:


…as a culture and by law, the United States continues to move toward increasing inclusivity in communal spaces. No one can deny you service because of your race, religion or national origin. (And in some places, sexual orientation, physical ability and age are also protected classes, while in the District, Seattle and a few other locales, it is illegal to refuse service based on a guest’s political affiliation or views.) At the same time, if you’re an unsavory individual — of whatever persuasion or affiliation — we have no legal or moral obligation to do business with you. And that, too, is right.

Because — and this is important and easily overlooked — at bottom this isn’t about politics. It’s about values, and accountability to values, in business. On a variety of levels, pressure is increasing on companies to articulate and stand by a code. Customers are demonstrating that they want to patronize companies that share their values. Our workforce also increasingly demands that employers establish a set of ethical standards. The once-ubiquitous idea that companies exist purely and solely to provide profit to shareholders is withering away like corn husks in the summer sun.

The rules have shifted. It’s no longer okay to serve sea bass from overfished waters or to allow smoking at the table. It’s not okay to look away from the abusive chef in the kitchen or the handsy guest in the dining room. And it’s not okay to ask employees, partners or management to clock out of their consciences when they clock in to work.


The high-profile clashes rarely involve one citizen fussing at another over the entrees. It’s more often a frustrated person (some of whom are restaurant employees) lashing out at the representatives of an administration that has made its name trashing norms and breaking backs. Not surprising, if you think about it: You can’t call people your enemies by day and expect hospitality from them in the evening.

So when the day comes that the world feels returned to its normal axis, I expect we’ll see fewer highly charged encounters making headlines. In the meantime, the new rules apply. If you’re directly complicit in spreading hate or perpetuating suffering, maybe you should consider dining at home.


Well, we all know who that parting shot is directed toward, despite it being totally outrageous and false. 

Still, 'orange man...bad', right?

At its core, it’s not the most insane left-wing screed out there. It simply states that no one in the restaurant business supports assaulting patrons, that they have the right to deny service, and that the rules of this whole hospitality business have changed. They certainly have—for the best that remains to be seen. A part of me hates these people and wants to see their worlds burned to ash; they’re liberals—they’re our default enemy. But, establishments have the right to refuse service. I don’t like boycotts, as they often backfire. There just simply needs to be an understanding that these establishment have to know that in the era of social media, fire and fury will descend upon them—and these people, short of issuing bomb and death threats, have the right to hurl their anger at restaurants to toss out conservatives solely on the basis that they probably vote a different way than the owner. That’s America. 

It’s often a clash of constitutionally protected rights. It’s one side hurling hatred at the other and vice versa. That’s politics, the great organization of our animosities. Conservatives need to understand that in liberal bastions don’t be shocked if some insufferable liberal bars them from service. You, as a customer, have the right to make your dissatisfaction known and harness the power of social media to identify the said business. And around and around we go. 


It shouldn’t shock us that the Red Hen is unapologetic of tossing Sanders, just as those who trashed the restaurant via online reviews and through showing up physically to protest, don’t regret their actions. That’s fine too. Frankly, if you’re a restaurant that cares more about the views of its customer base and possibly feeling dirty about serving a Republican than making as much money as possible, you’re probably in the wrong line of work. Capitalism doesn’t care about your feelings. There’s no special anti-Trump dividend that’s secured at the end of the quarter for doing such a thing, like tossing a pro-Trump voter. On issues like this, let the market decide. Now, when it comes to spitting, like what happened to Eric Trump in Chicago, then, by all means, deck the scum bucket. 

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