Monday, July 2, 2018

The Murder of Southern Hospitality

From The Stream:
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. (Read more.)


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