For Restaurant Staff, A Rare Chance To Protest The Trump Administration

Jun 30, 2018
Originally published on July 1, 2018 1:17 am

If Sarah Sanders or Kirstjen Nielsen came to our studios — and I hope some day they will — I would thank them for coming, and be professional and pleasant. But when the mic light went on, I would have to ask why so many of the children who have been separated from their families at the border are still locked up in detention centers.

Reporters can have the chance to ask. Most citizens don't.

Another national debate about civility was set off when a Virginia restaurant refused to serve the president's press secretary, and protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., shouting, "Shame!" and "End family separation!"

Rep. Maxine Waters of California said that officials in the Trump administration should be called out in public over their family separation policy.

"They're not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they're not going to be able to stop at a gas station ... the people are going to turn on them, they're going to protest, they're going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they're going to tell the president, 'No I can't hang with you.' "

But David Axelrod, President Obama's former senior adviser, tweeted, "Kind of amazed and appalled by the number of folks on Left who applauded the expulsion of @PressSec and her family from a restaurant. This, in the end, is a triumph for @realDonaldTrump vision of America: Now we're divided by red plates & blue plates!"

I read tweets from people who assail me as a "tireless apologist for civility," and I hope to treat everyone we interview with courtesy.

But who are the people in restaurants who prep and cook, serve food, bus tables and clean up when guests have gone? Many immigrants, who feel they've been special targets of the Trump administration's policies and rhetoric, as when the president said immigrants "infest our Country."

It might have been more polite or politically effective for protesters or restaurant staff to just let the Trump administration officials eat in peace, then approach them to say, "We profoundly disagree with what you've done."

But I understand how people who see public figures they hold responsible for what they find a reprehensible policy that tears apart lives will decide they just can't walk past what may be their one chance to say something directly to people in power. In words from Hamilton, they're "not throwing away" their shot.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

If Sarah Sanders or Kirstjen Nielsen came to our studios - and I hope someday they will - I would thank them for coming and be professional and pleasant. But when the mic light went on, I would have to ask why so many of the children who have been separated from their families at the border are still locked up in detention centers. Reporters can have the chance to ask. Most citizens don't.

Another national debate about civility was set off when a Virginia restaurant refused to serve the president's press secretary, and protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., shouting shame and end family separation. Representative Maxine Waters of California said that officials in the Trump administration should be called out in public over their family separation policy. They're not going to be able to go to a restaurant. They're not going to be able to stop at a gas station. The people are going to turn on them. They're going to protest. They're going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they're going to tell the president, no, I can't hang with you.

But David Axelrod, President Obama's former senior adviser, tweeted, kind of amazed and appalled by the number of folks on the left who applauded the expulsion of press secretary and her family from a restaurant. This, in the end, is a triumph for Donald Trump's vision of America. Now we're divided by red plates and blue plates.

I read tweets from people who assail me as a tireless apologist for civility, and I hope to treat everyone we interview with courtesy. But who are the people in restaurants who prep and cook, serve food, bus tables and clean up when guests have gone? Many immigrants who feel they've been special targets of the administration's policies and rhetoric, as when the president said immigrants infest our country.

It might have been more polite or politically effective for protesters or restaurant staff to just let the Trump administration officials eat in peace, then approach them to say, we profoundly disagree with what you've done. But I understand how people who see public figures they hold responsible for what they find a reprehensible policy that tears apart lives will decide they just can't walk past what may be their one chance to say something directly to people in power. In words from "Hamilton," they will not throw away their shot.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, "HAMILTON")

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: (As Alexander Hamilton, rapping) I am not throwing away my shot. I am not throwing away my shot. Hey yo, I'm just like my country. I'm young, scrappy and hungry. And I'm not going to throw away my shot. I'm going to get a scholarship to King's College. I probably shouldn't brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish. The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish. I got to holler just to be heard. With every word, I drop knowledge. I'm a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal trying to reach my goal, my power of speech, unimpeachable. Only 19, but my mind is older. These New York City streets get colder. I shoulder every burden... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.