In the wake of a restaurant in rural Virginia refusing service to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a bystander interviewed by the Washington Post summarized why the opposition to President Trump is often helping him.
"I'm not crazy about everything Donald Trump does, but what they did to that woman in this restaurant is disgraceful," Stephen Russek of Natural Bridge, Va., told the paper
Of course, those who seemingly have gone mad by dwelling on Trump have saluted the owner of Red Hen restaurant and have talked about her bravery for removing the cheese boards in front of Sanders and her party and taking to the patio and asking her to leave. Can we dub this Patiogate, or Cheese Boardgate?
Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of the restaurant, said that she booted Sanders because "I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation."
It seems that, by that standard, her 26-seat restaurant might go out of business quickly.
Wilkinson also says that it was important to her that Sanders was not refused service on sight. That's an interesting distinction, but it's clear that it was illegal to deny service. I think Sanders was right to leave, and she is right to not sue.
The way to deal with this is to let the marketplace deal with refusal of service based on politics. If a Trump supporter is told to leave a restaurant because of wearing a MAGA hat, let's take to social media to let people know and have them act accordingly.
However, this case is very different from the recent Supreme Court case that asserted the religious freedom rights of a Christian Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The baker did not refuse service to a gay person or couple, but refused to participate in a ceremony that he found to be sinful.
The Red Hen owner would have a better case if she refused to serve a catered lunch at the White House to celebrate the top 10 moments of Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushing back against CNN's Jim Acosta.
Cheese Boardgate, however, is insignificant, compared with the threats to Catholics this past week emanating from the U.S. Bishops spring meetings. The bishops first declared the debate over the separation of migrant children at the border from their moms to be a "right-to-life issue." Some bishops suggested going to the border to inspect the holding facilities. Others talked of prayer vigils to oppose the hardening of the hearts of Americans.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson, Ariz., upped the ante, but proposed possible canonical penalties for those Catholics involved in implementing policies that were involved in the separation of moms and kids. These penalties could range from denial of the sacraments to excommunication from the church.
"Canonical penalties are there in place to heal," he said. "And therefore, for the salvation of these people's souls, maybe it is time for us to look at canonical penalties."
This bishop was clearly saying you could go to hell for being involved in implementing the Trump policies at the border. It's curious, but I can't find statements from this bishop or others calling for canonical penalties for Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Joe Biden or other prominent Catholic Democrats who continue to support abortion policies that clearly violate the Catholic Church's edicts on the protection of the child.
The actions of the owner of the Red Hen and the Catholic bishops against Trump's policies might feel good and satisfy the theory that to oppose Trump in the manner that you would oppose other politicians is to normalize something that is greatly eroding our democracy.
However, in doing so, you are calling Trump voters "deplorables" again.
A better course of action might be to rationally remind people of the actions of the Trump administration that you oppose and to tell them to use their power to defeat them.
That power is called being an engaged citizen. It means telling representatives what you think and, most of all, showing up to vote in 2018 and 2020.