The Red Hen, The Murder of Southern Hospitality and The Spirit of Destruction
Imagine. You’ve had a rough week at the office. You’ve had a pressure-packed month that had you traveling halfway across the world for meetings that could decide the fate of millions. Your return has brought no rest. Every day you still have to stand in front of a bunch of people screaming the same questions at you — loaded questions, rude questions, “Let’s see if I can get trending on Twitter” questions. Questions where one wrong word from you can send markets crashing, foreign leaders vexing, to say nothing of sending talking heads into a frenzy. And you have to take this daily barrage with supernatural control and restraint, despite being genetically wired to be a wise-cracker.
Finally, it’s Friday. TGIF! Escape! You head out I-66 with the job and the nation’s Capitol in your rear view mirror. You head south down I-81. Way south. With each mile you lose the stench of the Swamp, the weight of your responsibility, the burden of a boss who works 17 hours a day and rarely on script. Up ahead is a nice dinner with some friends, a couple’s night.
You arrive in a quaint town tucked in the Shenandoah Mountains. A haven. You sit down at your table. You breathe. Perhaps for the first time in a month, you breathe.
The owner comes over. Not to say hi. Not even to discuss the night’s specials. She’s there to throw you out. Throw your whole party out. (literally and figuratively). Why? Because she hates your boss, and by extension hates you.
What happened to Sarah Sanders Friday night at the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia is an abomination. It is a violation of all standards of decency and hospitality. Worse, it is the latest vile display of the unrepentant and unhinged spirit that says “Those I disagree with politically I must destroy.” (Actually, not the latest. Florida’s Attorney General got verbally assaulted inside a screening of the new Mr. Rogers documentary Saturday. It’s an ugly day in the neighborhood.)
What’s going on is nothing short of demonic.
But first, let’s deal with the self-righteous, self-deluded owner of the Red Hen.
The Proud Owner
Co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson gave her reasons for her rudeness to the friendly reporters at the Washington Post. And they are completely political. Was Sanders making a scene? Was she shouting, “Boy, we’re showing them little brownies, huh?” Was anything but her tummy growling? No. Her existence was the offense. To Wilkinson, Sanders was not a guest. Not a woman. Not a mother. Not a living, breathing person. She was a symbol that had to be obliterated.
Oh, Wilkinson’s proud of what she did. She’d do it again in a heartbeat. “This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.” She’s acting like she’s Rosa Parks sitting on a Birmingham bus. No. She’s Robert DeNiro onstage at the Tony’s, shouting “F*** Trump.” Morality had nothing to do with this transplanted liberal New Yorker’s decision to reject Sanders and her party. To reject, in essence, anyone who dares hold different views. Courage would have been in showing kindness. Instead, Wilkinson will be celebrated in her circles. Kathy Griffin and Peter Fonda will be making reservations, if they haven’t already.
When her staff called to say Sanders was there, “What do we do?” any answer other than, “You treat her and her friends with the highest level of service and courtesy you can muster” is unacceptable. I grieve for her intolerance. I grieve her rejection of everything the hospitality business is supposed to represent. I don’t grieve her restaurant’s fate. Lexington is dominated by the Virginia Military Institute. Trump got over 70% of the vote in that area. Telling 70% of the locals they can kiss off is bad enough, but you’re talking about the heart of Virginia. You’re shredding the grand tradition of Southern hospitality. How distasteful is rudeness?
Wilkinson also did something else pretty stupid. She just signaled to her staff that they can pick and chose which guests to treat right. All told, her business is likely doomed. The Red Hen will be plucked. And it gets worse. Wilkinson is also the Director of Main Street Lexington. That’s a tourism agency for the town.
What has Wilkinson done to Lexington itself? If you come across I-40, then head north for several hours on I-81, Lexington is a natural place to stop, but not necessary. How many will now drive on by, worried that their presence is not welcome? “That’s the place that wouldn’t serve Sarah Sanders.”
No wonder Lexington-born GOP congressional candidate Ben Cline was quick to hit Twitter.
On behalf of my hometown of Lexington, I want to apologize for the rudeness of one liberal New York transplant (who also happens to be Meryl Streep's cousin). We hope you will come back and enjoy our area's true southern hospitality. https://t.co/CZ5Coc6Uuq
— Ben Cline (@Cline4Virginia) June 23, 2018
On Sunday, Historic Downtown Lexington’s Facebook page was begging people not to condemn the town for the actions of one person.
We do not condone the actions of Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of the Red Hen Restaurant and Director of Main Street Lexington.
The negative impact and nasty backlash towards our little community is downright appalling.
Please do not condemn our town for one persons actions.
To The People, Mr. President Trump & Secretary Sarah Sanders we sincerely apologize for the poor behavior and decision of ONE PERSON!
In one sense they’re wrong. It’s not one person. It’s a spirit.
The Greater Issue
Rabbi Evan Moffic spoke this morning on Fox News about the Sanders incident and actor Seth Rogen boasting about how he refused to take a picture with Paul Ryan and his kids. (With his kids?!) Rabbi Moffic said:
If we can’t share a meal together, if we can’t take a picture together and break bread together, and have a conversation together, we’ve lost some of the deepest elements that connect us one to another.
Disconnecting from each other as human beings is a dangerous game to play. It’s disconnection that makes it okay to pour bullets into a classmate when you’re peeved at the world. It’s disconnection — like we find with this movement that sees the other as “evil” — that leads to widespread violence. That is straight where we’re headed. I saw it in Los Angeles when Maxine Waters and cohorts cranked up tensions in the city to a fever pitch. The city exploded. Dozens of innocents paid with their lives.
Wilkinson and those like her are playing with fire. And they’re playing the devil’s game.
Dedicated to Lucifer
The theatrics you have been seeing in recent weeks: Blasting the sound of crying children at Trump hotels and the halls of Congress; the yelling and screaming at cabinet members at restaurants, or at their homes. Using children as props whether by staging protests, staging images of kids in cages, or staging magazine covers straight out of Pravda. These strategies are nothing new.
These theatrics are straight out of Saul Alinsky’s The Rules for Radicals. You insist there is zero good in your opponent. You fabricate events to agitate, disrupt and ultimately destroy your target. In other words, you come to kill, cheat and destroy. Is it any wonder Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer?
The spirit that has been unleashed on this nation is one of destruction. It has but one goal. Remove Trump from office? No. You’re deluded if you think it stops there. He’s just one chunk of flesh and blood. The goal is to consume in fire. To consume common decency, to consume friendships, to consume civil discourse, to consume any hopes of compromise and problem solving, to consume our nation.
If we do not fight this spirit with fervent prayer and determined voices, we will not only be denied dinner, but as a nation we will get our just desserts.