That Sarah Sanders Restaurant Story Is (80 Years) Old News
Does this story sound familiar? When a prominent female spokesperson of a xenophobic government decided to go out on the town and have a night of fun, she was refused service by a conscientious proprietor. If this rings a bell, that's probably because you've watched the news. Or maybe you just know your history, because America has a long and proud tradition of politely asking authoritarian enablers and apologists to leave their establishments.
Last Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lived out her suburban dream by getting to talk to a manager when the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia informed her she had to leave. Sanders, a big fan of supporting business autonomy (when they're barring gay couples) and evictions (when deporting immigrants and stealing their children), was not pleased, and took to her official Twitter account to complain. The situation quickly escalated, with other random restaurants across the globe also named Red Hen being harassed by MAGA types, and the president himself giving the most nitpicky Yelp review since Mary Todd Lincoln complained about the state of the carpeting in Ford's Theatre.
To be honest, we kind of hate this story, as this is the kind of bite-sized cable news chyron kerfuffle the press gloms on to while real stories -- like how holy shit everybody, we still have no idea exactly how many thousands of U.S. citizens died last year in Hurricane Maria -- get pushed to the wayside. But as long as we're talking about it, after the Red Hen debacle, writer Farran Nehme dug up a very similar story that occurred almost exactly 80 years ago.
Back in 1938, famed Nazi filmmaker and propagandist Leni Riefenstahl was touring LA, but while The New York Times was publishing hot take opinion pieces about how Jews should be more understanding to Nazis, Hollywood was having none of this bullshit. After a long day of being turned down by the studios (and a lovely meeting with Walt Disney), Riefenstahl was hoping to kick back in one of Hollywood's swellest nightclubs, but when owner Phil Selznick found out this Hitler lackey was to be a guest of honor, he quickly denied her reservations and told them to go invade some other place instead.
Of course, much like today, Selznick and the rest were chastised for being so intolerant of the intolerant, with the United Press framing their refusals as "attacks on Miss Riefenstahl," as if it isn't a god-given US of A right to refuse to let any individual you think sucks a big one eat your food. In their stereotypical indignation, Riefenstahl and her manager left the next day, cattily claiming they were there "only for the scenery" anyway.
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