“That’s the difference between the left and the right. When we make change we have fun and it doesn’t have to be negative and have screaming and crying and blocking highways…” — Tim Treadstone as quoted by Adelle Nazarian, “Operation #TrumpCup: ‘This is a Statement, Not a Protest’ ”
“…A note left in the bathroom of an Iowa university read, ‘TRUMP 2016 Lets (sic) Run those Niggers and Illegals out of town.’ ” — Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election
You have hit on a winning formula: enter a Starbucks shop, request a drink and the name “Trump” written on it, be ready to film any exchange expecting a barista to say no to the request, post such filmed offense to the web, or, take a selfie with labeled cup and your face and post to the web. In your “exclusive” interview with Breitbart, you complain about a “hoaxing” media characterizing your action and the collective action that all like-minded Starbucks invaders have taken as a protest. So we now understand that you are simply having fun making a statement. This must be something like a fashion statement, correct? After all, you are merely consuming a cup of coffee. There is no elaboration within your “exclusive” interview about what statement you are actually making. One may construe, though, that this statement is about making change: “we make change we have fun.” If it is not clear what the statement is, it is even less clear what change is being made.
Yes, this began with your horror over a Starbucks barista refusing to write the name “Trump” on a cup and watching the video clip that the miffed customer posted to the web. Heaven forbid in these tense, troubled times that you or your like-minded fun-loving consumers should be denied anything, especially the gloating superiority that the apparent political victory in the wake of the recent election now grants you. Perhaps the most pathetic instance of victory deferred happened to one David Sanguesa at a Starbucks in Miami. Sanguesa claims that the barista refused to serve him because he’s a “white man who supports President-elect Donald Trump.” How the barista would know this is beyond comprehension. Do angry Trump-victory gloaters have a look that everyone can recognize? This is absolutely mystifying. Yes, Sanguesa has since apologized, acknowledging his outburst of anger as wrong in terms of screaming at the barista. But we learned that he has a history of hate-baiting: “In one email sent this month, he said Obama has caused 95 million people to lose their jobs by ‘pushing a sick, left wing agenda of not working…living off the government…trying to get rid of Jesus Christ, abortion, homosexuality, lesbians, transgender…Hollywood trash…we are Miami destroyed…by people who hate the USA.’ ” I cannot begin to parse that statement.
What I find most interesting about you is your posturing. So cool, so calm, so in control. Certainly you will never resort to an outburst like Sanguesa’s, even if we may try to blame his behavior on the unspecified mental illness he claims to have. You are above that. But your like are having fun while committing crimes against humanity. Consider the other forms of branding besides the Trump cup, such as the Iowa university message detailed above. Or the verbal branding that two white men yelled at a woman crossing a street in Arlington, Virginia: “You better be ready because with Trump, we can grab you by the pussy even if you don’t want it.” Or the note written on a piece of trash taped to the door of a woman living in Russellville, Arkansas: “Trump says get back in the closet, fags!” I could recite more of the 867 post-election hate incidents documented by Southern Poverty Law Center. These are only reported incidents. Imagine the hundreds or thousands more that have gone and continue to go unreported.
Change? Nothing has changed. Angry white people have always targeted others. During the 1930s, Southern whites rode excursion trains with picnic baskets and children to enjoy taking in a lynching. They must have been having as much fun as you are having at this moment.
And while you claim to only be having fun, the commentary of those you surround yourself with on the web appear less fun-loving. Many ridicule the barista who said no, claiming he is effeminate or over-educated. And while they cannot possibly know anything about him, the fact that they resort to ridicule shows that they are achieving their fun-loving goal as consumers. Further, many complain of Starbucks coffee as poor product with all types of descriptive adjectives (does coffee have feelings?). Obviously, people clustering around your statement are really not having fun at all.
I would expect from a great mind a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the terms “left” and “right,” and the absolute futility of using the terms to begin with. Obviously, you do not know what protest involves. Consider the 15,000+ water protectors who have gathered at Standing Rock over the months. They have conducted themselves with resolution and dignity. They are not seeking thrills confronting unwitting baristas serving coffee. They are protecting earth. They have braved water hoses in freezing weather, rubber bullets, shattered arms and lenses. You have never known protest nor protesters. You have only known how to whine when you are not being served correctly. You speak from a position of privilege, while others, who protest, speak from a position of advancing justice. This is why I will be in the streets shouting. I am letting my black, brown, white, LGBTQ brothers and sisters know that I will watch out for them, fight for their rights, organize with them, and stand arm in arm in unified opposition to the hate-filled consumerism you and yours represent.
But, I see where you are going. Steve Bannon found the perfect poster boy. You will help the next administration normalize the hate campaign that has brought it to victory. And you will further benefit from this. While groups like the Ku Klux Klan have a stellar record of vigilantism, the incoming administration will need skilled, well-coordinated agencies aimed at political suppression and social oppression. You have shown yourself to be an able organizer. I predict you will find a prominent place in something like a new Brown Shirt movement. You will look cool in that new uniform. Because, after all, you are just having fun.
Lindsey Bever, “ ‘I voted for Trump! You lost!’: White Starbucks customer accuses barista of ‘discrimination’ ”, Post Nation, The Washington Post (November 18), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/11/18/i-voted-for-trump-you-lost-white-starbucks-customer-accuses-barista-of-discrimination/?utm_term=.7c3f8d54cc0; accessed 12/03/2016
Kristine Guerra, “A Starbucks barista refused to write ‘Trump’ on a cup. How his supporters are striking back.”, Post Nation, The Washington Post (November 21), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/11/21/a-starbucks-barista-refused-to-write-trump-on-a-cup-how-his-supporters-are-striking-back/?utm_term=.a3ad887f0a73; accessed 12/05/2016
Adelle Nazarian, “Operation #TrumpCup: ‘This is a Statement, Not a Protest’ ” (20 Nov 2016), http://www.breitbart.com/california/2016/11/20/operation-trump-cup-founder-this-is-a-statement-not-a-protest/; accessed 11/29/2016
Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election, November 2016, Southern Poverty Law Center (splcenter.org)