Actions Have Consequences


The media firestorm that kicked off on Friday night when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was refused service at a Virginia restaurant has reached its logical conclusion: a message from the editorial board of the Washington Post that the Real Problem is mildly inconveniencing powerful people.

The editorial board took on not only the incident involving Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but also those involving Kirstjen Nielsen and Stephen Miller, two of the administration’s biggest advocates for the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policy, who were on separate occasions harassed at Mexican restaurants in D.C last week.

In an editorial called “Let the Trump team eat in peace,” the board wrote:

Most obviously, passions are running high. Those who defend the Red Hen staff, or Ms. Nielsen’s hecklers, say this is no ordinary policy dispute. Mr. Trump has ordered terrible violations of human rights at the border, he is demonizing immigrants by his actions and his rhetoric, and people need to speak up however they can.
They will get no argument from us regarding Mr. Trump’s border policy, and when it comes to coarsening the debate, he is the prime offender. The poisonous fruits could be seen, as it happens, Saturday morning in a vile tweet from Ms. Sanders’s father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, that associated House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, with the vicious MS-13 gang.
We nonetheless would argue that Ms. Huckabee, and Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Miller, too, should be allowed to eat dinner in peace. Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment. How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?

Yeah, just try to imagine a world where abortion providers and advocates are constantly under attack—even when they’re at a restaurant. What a horror that would be.

By the Post editorial board’s own admission, the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric about immigrants are “repugnant,” not just a minor policy disagreement as it’s so willing to characterize it now. And yet when someone confronts the architects and mouthpieces of the administration’s most horrific policies—remember, these are public employees—the Post believes that’s a bridge too far.

The idea that powerful people should face consequences for their abhorrent actions must be a truly radical one for a newspaper which employs as one of its columnists one of the top speechwriters of the Bush administration. But these protests do serve an actual purpose: letting the authoritarians who work for Trump know that identifying themselves with this administration makes them look enormously bad, and letting other people know that they’re not alone in feeling that these people should be ostracized.

The fact that the Post feels the need to publicly defend the administration’s right to finish their nachos shows just how deep-seated the undying devotion to manners really is. We’re already putting children in concentration camps, and Republican congressmen are openly identifying with neo-Nazis. So it’s worth raising the question: To what level of horror does this government have to arise in order for even the smallest act of resistance to be justified?

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