I spent an hour on the radio this weekend criticizing Starbucks for exhibiting what I believe to be, and what the circumstances seem to suggest was indeed, racism. Two black men who had not yet ordered anything were denied the code to use the bathroom and then were asked to leave the store. They did not, the manager called the police, and at the end of it all two black men were handcuffed and detained for several hours. It’s hard not to read racism in that, especially when white eyewitnesses confirmed that other white customers had been doing exactly the same thing and were not treated the in the same, egregiously offensive way.
I got pushback from some people who are loathe to assume racism unless there is absolute proof that the manager said “Get out, we don’t serve your kind here.” I have myself criticized the playing of the “race card,” as some call it, every time we inject color into a controversy, but this time around it’s really hard to see how bigotry was not involved. And as someone who has patronized Starbucks regularly for almost two decades and who has never been asked to leave or denied a bathroom code, I have a very hard time thinking that the color of the customers’ skin in this case was incidental.
That said, I’m kind of thrilled that a company that touts its liberal cred from the mountaintops has gotten a comeuppance. This is a place that waves the rainbow flag, that strongly supports Planned Parenthood and its mission to make America safe for “choice,” and that has been fairly clear about its position on the Trump administration. To be exposed for its lack of sensitivity to minorities is delightfully ironic (except, of course, to the minority men who had their hands shackled.)
This does not mean that I will stop going to Starbucks. I do not engage in boycotts, much to the dismay of my pro-life fellow warriors who get angry when I post a photo sipping a Frappacino or similar concoction on Facebook. I can’t spend my entire life worrying if I’ve advanced an agenda I oppose by slaking my thirst with an enemy beverage.
I wish that liberals would follow my lead. Alas, a recent article in the New Yorker proves that I’ll have better luck waiting for the 12th, or even the 11th of Never. The essay was entitled “Chick-Fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” and it wasn’t written by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney but it could have been. As my fellow Philadelphians will remember, then-Councilman Kenney waged his own personal war on the fast food company because the CEO Dan Cathay had the audacity to express his opposition to gay marriage in an interview. Mind you that there has never been any proof that the company denies service to gays and lesbians, except on Sundays. That’s OK though, because it also denies service to heterosexuals, bisexuals, transgender, pansexuals, asexuals and the Kardashian sisters (who are in a category by themselves) on Sundays. The restaurant stays closed on the Sabbath, consistent with its Christian values.
And that’s the thing that horrifies the skittish folks at the New Yorker, who cannot believe that a company should be able to exist if it has a religious foundation based on principles of Christian charity. Jim Kenney tried to ban the company from doing business in Philly because of its owner’s personal views. Fortunately, people who understand the constitution, including the First Amendment, counseled the councilman to pipe down.
Then they voted him into higher office, which is what liberals do when they are out of better ideas.
So on the weekend that we have a very progressive company like Starbucks engaging in what is very likely a violation of two men’s civil rights, we have a conservative company being attacked and ridiculed for hewing to its Christian ideals. Those ideals, by the way, compelled Chick-Fil A in Orlando to stay open on a Sunday and provide free meals to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre, many of whom were very likely gay.
I’ll be waiting with bated breath for that moment when Starbucks decides to provide free coffee to the families of young black men gunned down in the streets of Philadelphia
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.