WASHINGTON – In the window of the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, Va., the words of Martin Luther King Jr. are framed: "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."
On Friday night, the Red Hen's owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave, citing Trump administration policies. Sanders complied, but tweeted about the incident. Wilkinson later told the Washington Post: “I’m not a huge fan of confrontation..." But added, "This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions."
For some, the booting of Sanders set a new standard in incivility.
"This is very dangerous," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday morning. "[The restaurant owner] should apologize to the American public. What is interesting to me is the people who claim tolerance seem to be the most intolerant in this process."
It follows a week in which members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus heckled the president in the Capitol building, a Congressional intern hurled an f-bomb at President Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen was shouted out of a D.C. restaurant by aggressive hecklers, and besieged by more hecklers outside her home shouting, "No justice, no sleep."
This weekend, Florida Attorney General Pam Biondi had to abandon her night out at the movies in the face of a similarly confrontational mob.
That, while at a weekend rally Democratic California Congresswoman Maxine Waters called on her supporters to step up the confrontations.
“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” she said.
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Waters was setting a dangerous precedent.
"Obviously what Maxine Waters said is beyond the pale and really the next move is Democratic colleagues. If she starts to feel the heat from Democrats in the house who tell her publicly that she went too far and she should take it back, that's how you fix these things," he said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi partly did that in a tweet Monday morning. She did not mention Waters by name, but took care to mention the president's.
"Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable," she wrote.
The counter-puncher in chief fired back with a tweet of his own. "Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters...Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Lexington, Va., voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but surrounding Rockbridge County voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. The two jurisdictions, one within the other, have little in common, and like America, seem to be moving further apart.