NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, June 26th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: I’ve lived in Virginia a very long time and so I’m well aware of the state’s sordid history when it comes to slavery, racism, and discrimination. I’m also old enough to remember the shame of segregation in public places. That’s why I’m so sorry to see a new kind of segregation returning to my native state.
REICHARD: Commentary now from WORLD Radio’s Cal Thomas.
THOMAS: I can still remember “colored only” restrooms, water fountains, poll taxes, and African Americans forced to ride in the back of the bus. Virginia public schools in the 1950s were mostly segregated, as they had been since first established in 1870.
Segregation was so bad in my home state of Virginia that even Native Americans were largely excluded from public education. It wasn’t until 1963 that public schools were open to them.
It would take another five years before the U.S. Supreme Court required a county school board in Virginia to change its racist practices, and quicken the pace of desegregation. The high court ordered New Kent County Schools, in the words of the ruling, to “convert promptly to a [school] system without a ‘white’ school, and a ‘Negro’ school, but just schools.”
With that shameful background, I want to talk about a new kind of segregation: ideological segregation. It’s clearly in a different category from racial segregation, which was far worse. But I thought we’d entered a more tolerant age, putting it all of the past behind us – especially in Virginia, the home of the Confederacy. Clearly, we haven’t.
What happened last week to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her friends at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, brought back memories of those unpleasant days.
A waiter had served their meal, but after learning that Sanders was there, the owner asked her to leave. Will the owner begin screening future patrons based on their political ideology and who they voted for in the last election?
Those who claim to be defenders of free speech and free association have been strangely quiet about the incident, leading one to believe they support the restaurant owner’s decision.
Liberals and civil rights activists criticized and filed lawsuits against Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused on religious grounds to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Never mind that he had baked other kinds of cakes for gay customers, or that Phillips never threw gay customers out of his bakery.
One doesn’t need to have much imagination to predict what would have happened if a gay person, an African American or even a liberal politician had been asked by a right-wing restaurant owner to leave because of their sexual orientation, race, or ideology.
The outcries would have properly come from just about everywhere and lawyers would be lined up to file anti-discrimination lawsuits. Demonstrators outside the restaurant would have quickly followed, probably forcing the place to close, or requiring the owner to issue an apology.
And they would be right!
I’ve been critical of President Trump for his divisive comments. But he’s not alone. People are responsible for their own behavior and if they think someone is behaving badly, they should demonstrate classier behavior.
All they need to do is look to the good example of Sarah Sanders.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.