Normally when I write about socialists causing mayhem in the public square it winds up being a story about Venezuela, but yesterday that theme migrated to the streets of Washington, D.C. The Washington Times has the story (with video) of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen attempting to have a working dinner at a restaurant in the capital which was loudly and aggressively interrupted by a group of socialists. While the “protest” thankfully didn’t turn violent, it represents another step in the erosion of civil norms and the limits of political discourse.
Homeland Security secretary Kristjen Nielsen had her dinner plans Tuesday night torpedoed by shouting socialist protesters angry at immigration enforcement, which they said should not exist.
Ms. Nielsen had sat down at MXDC Cocina Mexicana restaurant on 14th Street, a couple of blocks from the White House, when a number of members of the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America began yelling in the restaurant.
According to a self-taken video posted on Facebook, the protesters yell “can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting … tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum in the United States.”
Demonstrators begin chanting “abolish ICE” and “shame, shame, shame!!”
“If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace!” they continued.
Do you recognize the name of the group… the “Democratic Socialists of America?” Yep. Those are Bernie Sanders’ people. The video they posted on Facebook includes the various chants being heard which disrupted dinner not only for the Secretary but all the diners in the restaurant. In addition to calls to “abolish ICE” the group chanted, “No borders! No walls! Sanctuary for all!” (That probably sounds familiar to you if you’ve been paying attention to the news recently.)
At what point does enough become enough? Obviously, the restaurant’s management should have stepped in to restore order and called the police if the protesters would not comply, but that’s really not the point here. If you disagree with the policies put in place by any given administration, by all means, make your voices heard. But there’s a time and a place for it. Get a permit and organize a march in the public square. Attend a town hall. Take it up with your elected representatives. But hounding a public official in a public restaurant, shutting down a business dinner and placing both the targets of this attack and the rest of the diners in fear for their safety is not political speech. It’s thinly disguised terrorism.
Why would anyone want to accept a position in public service if this is how they’re going to be treated in public? Incidents such as this serve as a damper on the willingness of people to volunteer to give up a portion of their lives to serve in the government. Hounding government officials of either party in private circumstances (or even at their homes) shouldn’t just be discouraged, it should be punished under the law. And this isn’t a question of free speech. Basically shutting down a restaurant isn’t “speech” in that sense.
The problem here is that we’re establishing a precedent if this assault is allowed to go unanswered. I wonder how the socialists in question will respond if the members of the next Democratic administration are treated in the same fashion. Perhaps we can’t legislate civility in public discourse. If not, we’re well on our way to looking far more like the government of a third world country.