A chef-partner at Wursthall Restaurant and Bierhaust in San Mateo, California is backtracking from a now-deleted pledge he made on Twitter to refuse service to anyone wearing a MAGA hat:
Earlier this week, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, chef-partner at Wursthall Restaurant and Bierhaus, said he would refuse service to anyone who came into his business wearing a Make America Great Again baseball cap. The stance has since drawn national attention and mixed reaction from patrons.
On Sunday, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt tweeted, “It hasn’t happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate.”
Lopez-Alt followed up that tweet by writing, “MAGA hats are like white hoods, except stupider, because you can see exactly who is wearing them.”
The chef is singing a different tune today. In a post on the blog platform Medium, Lopez-Alt explained his decision to reverse course:
I am very proud to come from a diverse family. My mother is an immigrant from Japan and my father is from a steel town in Western Pennsylvania. My family spans across the political spectrum. Yet we still manage to have a wonderful time at our biannual family reunion because we have three things in common: family, a love for our country, and most importantly, respect for each other and our communities.
Symbols have power and meaning and can mean different things to different people at different times and in different contexts. After having seen the red hat displayed so prominently in so many moments of anger, hate, and violence, to me — and many others — the hat began to symbolize exactly that: anger, hate, and violence. This was the context my tweet was meant to communicate.
Unfortunately the way I tried to communicate this ended up only amplifying the anger, and I apologize for that.
Wursthall will continue, as it always has, to serve all customer regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual preference, gender orientation, disability, or political opinion — so long as they leave hate, anger, and violence outside of the doors of our restaurant.
Lopez-Alt, who said he has received “multiple threats” after he posted his tweets, clearly shares the belief expressed by actress Alyssa Milano and others who believe MAGA hat wearers give “tacit endorsement for the hatred and the violence we’ve seen these past few years.”
CNN anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon even got in on the act yesterday, going so far as to laughably try and differentiate the chef’s original declaration (of which they both approve) from those of cake bakers and wedding florists who have refused to provide gay wedding services (of which the duo don’t approve).
Chris Cuomo says that MAGA hats are comparable to shirts that say “I hate black people”
Cuomo suggests businesses should be allowed to ban people who wear MAGA hats
Don Lemon says the hat represents "the Central Park five," "birtherism," and "Mexicans are rapists" pic.twitter.com/3O2EshuubL
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 1, 2019
Here’s a partial transcript via Nicholas Fondacaro at Newsbusters:
CUOMO: You can refuse service. You know, no shirt no shoes no service. Now you’d have a counter first amendment argument. You’re chilling my rights. It’s a private place. Well then, how is this any different than the baker with the cake? Well, that was about refusing service to a group of people that should be a protected class. And unless you can argue that Trump supporters should be a protected class. I don’t think you have much of an argument on that.
LEMON: Again, your clothing tells a story about who you are, what you think about, and what you represent. And also, life is not in a vacuum. That hat means a lot of things. If you’re going to wear that hat, that hat means everything from, I would say the beginning of the campaign, maybe before. Maybe that hat means the Central Park five to people. Maybe it means birtherism to people. Maybe it means Mexicans are rapists to people. And so you cannot erase those things from the story of that hat and say, “well, I’m just wearing it because I want stronger immigration”. Well, a lot of people want stronger immigration. It just can’t be about what you want it to be about. There are symbols and things in society that you have to take as a whole.
Cuomo, of course, is wrong.
The “bake that cake” cases were not “about refusing service to a group of people that should be a protected class.” They were about refusing a particular service, not a group of people altogether. That’s a big difference. Also, the owners in these cases have argued they have 1st Amendment grounds to refuse a particular service based on their religious beliefs.
As to Cuomo’s and Lemon’s “point”, ultimately this is all part of the MAGA hat shame game, where the ultimate goal of the people making these claims is to suppress dissent.
Lopez-Alt’s apology will mean little to customers (and potential patrons) who were offended by his original message and what it insinuated. Seriously, who – outside of the meddling activist left – wants to spend their time and hard-earned cash at places they aren’t welcomed?
Apologies in these instances are a start, but by that point the damage is already done.
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