She’s Mad Max. In your face.
That’s Maxine Waters, the liberal congresswoman from southern California.
Two weeks ago, she implored opponents of the Donald Trump administration to protest and confront members of his Cabinet wherever they encounter them. However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outright scolded Waters for her incendiary tone, in fact, using such adjectives as “uncivil” and “un-American” to describe the 80-year-old Waters.
That case of liberal Democrats butting heads resulted in a group of black female leaders blasting Schumer and Pelosi in a letter for not defending Waters.
This debate in regards to shaming publicly Cabinet members kicked off on June 19 when a mob of protesters heckled secretary of U.S. Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Washington. She was forced to leave the restaurant, an incident vividly described in play-by-play fashion, including the protesters’ text messages calling for mobilization, in the Washingtonian magazine.
Now, we are at a point where we can’t disagree and break bread together. Literally.
A similar heckling incident involving White House senior adviser Stephen Miller occurred at another Mexican restaurant the same week in Washington. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was taunted by protesters outside a Louisville restaurant Saturday.
All of this begs the question: Do hecklers have the right to harass and attempt to evict a patron at a public establishment because of political beliefs?
Dr. Robert J. Cottrol says no.
Cottrol is the Harold Paul Green research professor of law at George Washington University; he also is a constitutional law expert.
Regarding heckling inside restaurants, Cottrol said: “I believe these activities are illegal. The people doing the harassment could — and in my view should — be subject to civil and potential criminal action. I believe that the restaurants could also be subject to civil action.”
All of this evokes two questions for Mad Max:
A. What happens if a staunch, conservative Republican approaches her in a public eatery and forcefully demands, “I want you out of this restaurant because I’m offended by your loudmouth liberal, Democrat politics?”
B. If that happens, will Waters employ race as a defense mechanism? Will she summon the two Roving Reverends of Recompense — also known as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson — to assist her in some sort of racial self-defense or even Black Lives Matter.
In other words, can Mad Max handle criticism in reverse? The great presidential philosopher Harry S. Truman often said in the 1940s and 1950s: “If you can’t take the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen.”
Note there is much kitchen and restaurant chatter these days in the nation’s capital — and it’s not about complimenting the chef or determining how much to tip the server.
Said Cottrol: “While a restaurant might have the right to refuse a customer service based on that individual’s political allegiances (this is in contrast to race or religion etc. and depends on public accommodations statutes in particular states/districts), once a restaurant has agreed to serve a patron, it has the obligation of ensuring that the patron gets to enjoy the quiet enjoyment of his/her meal. The restaurant, in my view, would be obligated to stop the harassment, and if the restaurant did not have the physical resources to do so, would be obligated to call the police.”
Ah, the ambiance of enjoying a good meal. How novel.
Still, who is really being intolerant here in these ridiculous incidents? Is it Nielsen because of her Trumpian policies or is it the protesters disrupting her meal in a popular Washington restaurant, mere blocks from the White House?
In any regard, “tolerance” has become a political term these days.
And now that we know Donald Trump has chosen Ivy-League-educated appellate court judge Brett Kavanaugh (also known as “Coach K”) to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, the liberal-on-conservative confrontations undoubtedly will magnify and multiply. You also can expect Kavanaugh to be harassed in public arenas, even though he doesn’t appear to be totally far-right, unlike Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett.
Remember, the Democratic base, obviously desperate and panicky because of the new transformative, conservative makeup of the high court, thanks to Trump, has demanded massive resistance, essentially by any means necessary.
Therefore, if Waters’ calls for public harassment lead to violence or riots, then will she be held accountable? Many liberals blame Trump for inciting anger, bigotry, public incivility. So, will those same liberals blame Waters if public ugliness breaks out? Or will hypocrisy rule the roost?
And that hypocrisy issue, of course, surfaces when getting in someone’s face.