Red Hen is a Red Herring: Political Extremism’s Impact

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the red hen

A small restaurant in Virginia grabbed the nation’s attention this week. The Red Hen, in Lexington, was visited by Sarah Huckabee Sanders on June 22. She was asked by the owner to leave.

Stephanie Wilkinson, who owns the farm-to-table style restaurant, told the Washington Post that she asked Sanders to leave because Sanders worked in the service of an “inhumane and unethical” administration and that she publicly defended the president’s cruelest policies.

That incident dominated the news cycle over the weekend. The Left and the Right clashed heavily over the incident, as they do with anything that gains national attention. Political discourse has been injected into several things we enjoy in this country: marriage, sports, entertainment, etc.

The following day, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) delivered a speech at a “Keep Families Together” rally on Capitol Hill, where she said that people should harass Trump staffers when they’re seen in public. This was in response to the president’s immigration policies.

While this kind of talk might be viewed by some as crazy or even dangerous, this really isn’t anything new. Looking at any social media post that involves politics, with a simple glance you can find polar opposites screaming at each other. You see it when watching talking heads on cable news, and even when you see protestors show up to campaign rallies.

America is severely divided and has been for quite some time. The topic is discussed in Episode 34 of the Think Liberty Podcast (“Political Extremes and Freedom of Association”). The episode touches up on both Waters’ comments, and the actions of the owner at the Red Hen.

Wilkinson was well within her rights to ask Sanders to leave her restaurant. A business owner should have the right to discriminate against anyone for any reason (it seems like this idea keeps falling on deaf ears). Something similar will probably happen again in the future.

However, it’s bothersome, and irresponsible, for an elected official to encourage calls for harassment against American citizens. I hope Waters will be willing to accept responsibility should violence be the result of harassment. More importantly, I hope no situations escalate to that level.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- New York) both commented on Waters; remarks. Schumer said that no one should call for harassment, while Pelosi said that Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are “predictable but unacceptable.” Pelosi also said that “we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”

Since then, the word “civility” has been at the forefront. Each side is accusing the other of being uncivil. The Right has made its own call for civility, which is ironic considering how the president talks about his opponents. Seeing how the Left has celebrated what happened at the Red Hen and the calls for harassment from Waters, they’ve ditched civility. Civility is nowhere to be found as the two sides push themselves further to the extreme.

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, meaning Trump will appoint a new justice. The appointment and confirmation are expected to happen before the midterm election. Get ready for more fighting. The Right will celebrate as they continue to get what they want. The reaction will be more pushback from the Left.

The political climate is one where respect is perceived as agreement. “To respect one’s opinion is to agree with it” is the mindset. To disagree with Trump is to agree with the Left, or vice versa.

Stephanie Wilkinson had the right to ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her restaurant. The right falls under both private property rights and freedom of association. Sanders left the Red Hen, and hasn’t made any calls for harassment or government intervention. This is how we all should treat opinions that differ from our own.

Meet someone you don’t agree with, and listen to what they have to say. Ask them why they hold their worldview, and a discussion can begin. Politely offer feedback, and it can start a conversation. Does it sound like I’m trying to teach this to a child? Yes, it does. Is it stupid that I’m doing this? Absolutely.

Unfortunately, this is where we are. It needs to change if we want any sense of normalcy in our political climate going forward.

Read more from Mike Ursery here.