Maxine Waters
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Congresswoman Maxine Waters speaks onstage during The Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Gala Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on March 10, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign (HRC))

Asking for Civility Is Not the Reason We Have Rights

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Since Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Red Hen a week ago, we’ve been hearing a lot about the question of “civility” and whether or not asking public people in government to leave restaurants is discrimination. On The View, with the exception of Sunny Hostin, each of the co-hosts portray this as a “slippery slope” and “what’s next” for people getting denied service–does it mean saying we can’t let you in if we don’t like your shoes? (Which does happen in many places but that’s beside the point.)

Now, much like Hostin, I think it is fair to confront public political figures in public non-violently. Asking a politician to leave a restaurant, in my opinion, is up to that owner. It has happened on both sides before and in very partisan political times such as today, it should be expected. Plus for those who fear this signals the beginning of living in a world of “conservative and liberal restaurants” well I have news for you, we already kinda do.

Plus Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not an ordinary, run of the mill republican citizen living her life. She is a mouthpiece for an administration that has caused harm to many people and is deeply unpopular. Her role has made her co-sign disgusting and harmful behavior and just be a full-on liar. The most upsetting thing about the Red Hen incident is that it has turned her into a victim when she is far from one.

While not a direct parallel, back in 2012 during the campaign trail, Biden was denied entry into a bakery called “Crumb and Get It” because the owner, Chris McMurray didn’t agree with Obama’s policies. Biden was planning on visiting the bakery for a photo opportunity, not having dinner with his family, but the core issue, a public figure in a presidential cabinet being denied service, holds true. According to Snopes‘ reporting, this was the rundown of the events:

“They said, ‘This is a place that we’ve identified for Mr. Biden’s stop,’ and they asked permission, if that would be OK,” McMurray said. “After much thought, I respectively declined. The exchange was very kind. It wasn’t at all heated. It was not at all hoarse. Even when she departed, it wasn’t at all ill-mannered. They were very nice. I told her no offense to the vice president, and she received that. We just had a difference of opinion politically.”

[…]

We’re told that shortly after Crumb and Get It told Biden’s advance people ‘no’ — the secret service walked in and told Chris McMurray ”Thanks for standing up and saying ‘no’ — then they bought a whole bunch of cookies and cupcakes.

McMurray said he’s hoping folks will understand he just didn’t want to be part of a photo op for an administration whose policies he doesn’t agree with.

You know what Biden also did not do? He didn’t go to Twitter and complain about it. The story got picked up beyond local news because of outlets like Drudge Report and McMurray became a hero for the GOP. Neither Biden nor Obama commented on the event. That is civility.

When the Sanders story first appears on The View, co-host Sara Haines made a statement that one of the beautiful things about this country is that we can all live together, without believing the same things. While that is true, I do live in a society where people ship Spuffy and think that pineapple on pizza is an acceptable topping, but that’s different than holding hands with people who mock non-abled bodied people, people who are racists, people who are anti-choice and people who think it that rape is a grey area.

Where is this call for civility when there are anti-choice people who murder abortion doctors?

There has never been a single moment in history where people got their independence or their rights just because some altruistic force gave it to them. The marginalized have always had to fight and struggle to be seen as people. Many have died trying to attain the freedom to live as they chose.

Women who were fighting for the vote made noise, chained themselves to the White House and caused a massive scene. As a result, they were arrested, beaten, force-fed and some died. Black Civil Rights activists allowed themselves to be beaten and harassed and jailed all to show the world the severity of black mistreatment in America. How many hundreds of gay people died from the AIDS crisis because the government did nothing? Passivity means death when you don’t fight for your right to exist and sometimes even progressives and allies need to be reminded of that.

This expectation for those who are oppressed to smile and do nothing as they are being attacked and endangered is the true cruelty. Does this mean we need to go up and yell at everyone wearing a MAGA hat? No. But does that mean that public officials are above scrutiny from the public? No, and that goes for both sides.

(image: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.