There is a decided advantage to waiting for facts to emerge before offering your opinion on a situation. The difference between “reacting” and “responding” is often the difference between looking like a blooming idiot and looking like someone who enjoys the challenge of thinking. The only problem with waiting for the facts is that those who choose a more visceral reaction have long since made up their minds based on everything BUT the facts.
A now-viral video shows the Saturday arrest of two black men at an urban Starbucks in Philadelphia. They were taken into custody after refusing the store’s, then the policeman’s request that they leave. As routinely happens in this day of pervasive social media, the reaction was swift…and vicious.
The Social Justice Warrior (SJW) industry sprang into action. The narrative was quickly established. The store manager, the entire company, was inherently racist for forcing two black men out. They claimed the men were waiting on a friend. Furthermore, this was the latest evidence of the “implicit bias” that exists today and must be rooted out by any means necessary. In short, this was being treated like the showdown at the Edmund Pettis Bridge.
But as the facts began to emerge, a different picture developed. We now know that the two men entered the store and initially asked to use the restroom. They were told that they had to be paying customers. They then sat down at a table without buying anything. At this point, the manager knew they were not paying customers and that they were occupying a table. She went over and asked if they would like to order something and they said no. That’s when she informed them that they would have to leave if they were not ordering.
This is the crucial point in the story. At this juncture the two men had a choice. They could order a two-dollar water in order to stay at the store and wait on their friend, or they could have acted like entitled brats and claimed that a private business had no right to determine who could come on their property. They chose poorly. They refused again. She said she would call police. They responded, “Go ahead and call them. We don’t care.”
The manager took the logical next step one takes when someone refuses to comply with your request that they leave your premises. According to the 911 tape, she could not have been more professional. She said, “I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” There is ZERO evidence that the men’s race played a role in her calling police. None. When police arrived and asked them to leave, the two men were presented with the choice again—albeit with more dire consequences. They continued to act like entitled jackasses. They evidently believed the manager of this private property had no right to tell them to leave for violating store policy. That’s when they were arrested.
Within 24 hours the restaurant was targeted by the Professional Outrage Brigade. Social Justice Warriors stormed into the store and disrupted the business. This image was captured by an AP photographer. It demonstrates everything that is wrong with this story. Someone is using a megaphone to scream into the face of a barista who had absolutely NOTHING to do with anything that had happened the day before. This is the equivalent of coming home and kicking your dog after a bad day at work.
The most laughable claims are that Starbucks is part of some “White Privilege Conspiracy” that treats blacks like subhumans. Never mind that the company serves millions of minority customers every day without incident. The store manager in question here is described by friends as a hard-core leftist. Not exactly Bull Conner in drag. Starbucks has long been a conspicuous supporter of liberal causes. Remember their ill-fated effort several years to try and coerce customers into “discussing racism?” Not exactly the John Birch Society.
If you want to, you can say that if the customers were white that the manager would never have called the police. But that is pure supposition and has no basis in those pesky things called facts.
This is not complicated. Every restaurant has a limited number of tables. Each one is a potential revenue-generator. If someone is occupying a table and not ordering anything, that means the store is not making money off of that asset. That is why most restaurants have a rule about paying customers only at their tables. Starbucks has gone to great lengths to promote their stores as social gathering spots. But that is done with the expectation that those who gather will shell out money for vastly-overrated coffee. If not, the restaurant is little more than a nice-looking day shelter for anyone who wants it. That won’t pay the bills.
There are three occasions I can remember where I was in a restaurant or bar and was asked to order something in order to remain. If I had cavalierly told the manager that I had every right to keep my fat arse where it was and that there was nothing they could do about it, I would fully expect my next conversation to be with the police. If I continued this line of thinking with the officers, I would fully expect to be arrested. In each case I ordered a drink. That is the response of someone who realizes they are a guest on someone else’s property, and that expectations call for them to follow certain rules of behavior. That is the way you handle things when you know that this world was not created to bend to your whims.
I usually try to avoid race-based discussions because they are almost always steeped in emotion and rarely lead to fruitful outcomes. I have no doubt that subconscious racism exists…that is to say, black males are eyed more suspiciously in stores—etc. etc. But this is not one of those cases. This is simply a case of two people who thought that reasonable store policies that apply to everyone else somehow did NOT apply to them. Despite the most fervent wishes of some, we are no longer Selma-Alabama—and it is no longer 1963.