The popular restaurant chain Starbucks has been one of the most recent victims of the social justice witch hunt for supposed racists and bigots. A few months ago in one of their Philadelphia branches, two young African American men sat in the restaurant while awaiting an acquaintance to discuss a business deal.
They were not paying customers, and as such were refused the privilege to use the restroom on these grounds. After several minutes, the manager told them they had to make a purchase if they wanted to stay, and they refused to comply. Given that the two men were not respecting the restaurant’s policy and were loitering as such, the manager called the police to ask them to leave. A video was posted of the interaction between the arriving officers and the two men:
While it is difficult to make out what is actually being said, neither the police nor the loiterers appear to be raising their voices or demonstrating physical aggression. However, it is noteworthy that the conversation lasts eight minutes at least, which means the loiterers at the very least are refusing to comply with the officers’ orders to leave the establishment for disrespecting the store’s policy. As the video shows, the conversation ends with the two men being arrested and escorted out of the branch in handcuffs.
They could have bought something and there would have been no problem. They didn’t. They could have waited outside for their acquaintance and bought something when he arrived. They didn’t. They could have gone somewhere else if no one was planning to order anything.
They didn’t. They could have left when they were told by the manager they had to make a purchase to stay. They didn’t. They could have left when the police arrived and told them to. They didn’t. The one thing they could not do was sit in a private business without making a purchase after the management told them they had to respect the store’s policy. And of all the options at their disposal, that is the one they chose.
Their treatment was justified and sensible, wasn’t it?
Nothing could be further from the truth, according to some. As one might imagine in the politically-charged climate of today, there was a national uproar over this situation. Both Starbucks and the Philadelphia police force were accused of being “racist bigots”, and a narrative was pushed claiming these two men were referred to the authorities and arrested simply on account of racial discrimination for being black.
Even worse however, the vast majority of major news outlets (this being Washington Post, CBC, Huffington Post, The Guardian, DailyMail, New York Times, etc) also adopted this narrative, and framed the story as though these men were “poor victims” of racist institutions rather than loiterers who refused to respect the policy of a private business and argued with the police for eight minutes to vouch for their entitlement to disobey the law.
The media-enforced narrative only heightened the outrage of the public, and Starbucks began seeing protests and boycotts of their business, along with the occasional belligerent heckler who would walk into a branch and aimlessly begin screaming at staff. The manager who called the police on these two men received so much hate and abuse that she had to quit her job to get away from it all.
Starbucks has taken several steps to save their reputation from the slander of these corrupt news companies and ideologically-possessed protestors. Later this month, they will be shutting down hundreds of branches across the country for a day to give their employees “racial sensitivity training”.
They also have just announced that they will be changing their store policy; their WiFi and restrooms shall now be open to non-paying customers.
Starbucks is a private business, and thus the owners have the right to make whichever changes they want. But it does not take a genius to see they are clearly being pressured by this distorted and media-driven scandal to make radical decisions in order to save their restaurant.
Mandating their employees to allow the non-paying public to use their facilities will particularly affect branches in busy commercial areas, where paying customers fill up all the seats regularly already. Now actual customers will be unable to sit in the restaurant due to the non-paying public occupying the seats while they browse the internet.
Furthermore, this policy will attract the homeless, which may discourage business and facilitate altercations with employees who must accommodate them. Once again, Starbucks is free to do what it wants, but we cannot deny these decisions have been made as a result of the unreasonable pressure they are subject to in light of this scandal.
While the two loiterers who ignited this situation are to blame along with the protestors, there is not much to be said here. We know by now that a portion of our society is completely indoctrinated into this ideology where anytime a minority is punished, it must be because of racism, not because that individual actually broke the law, wasn’t complying with the rules like everyone else, and so forth.
Lost on them is the revolutionarily egalitarian idea our society is actually predicated on, where race has no bearing on law enforcement; where everyone is subject to the same rules regardless of their skin color. This story proves that such individuals pathologically must see a person’s race as predominant and their behavior as only secondary; that the skin color of an arrested black man should carry more legal weight than his actual crime. We’re at a loss as to what to do about these people, given that they routinely shut down any discussion about these ideas. Dialogue and reason are continually proving to be ineffective methods.
With regards to the two original loiterers, their tactic of feigning victimhood is to be expected. If they are the kind of men who believe they are entitled to disobey laws and receive special treatment after being given multiple chances to reconcile the situation without being arrested, obviously they aren’t the kind of people who would look in the mirror to consider their own responsibility. It’s far easier for your self-image to pull the race card and pretend you’re a victim than to face the hard truth that the mess you’re in is your fault.
No, the largest proportion of blame for bullying Starbucks into adopting poor business policies to escape accusations of racism should be directed towards the news companies which pushed an obviously fake narrative at the expense of race relations in the country.
While we understand these organizations are motivated to secure high ratings with interesting, controversial, and emotional stories, we must recognize that a line has to be drawn somewhere when an exaggerated version of a story is being sold.
When social harmony is undermined, and different communities are intentionally pitted against each other to secure those ratings, the news organization has crossed a morally reprehensible line that discredits their self-proclaimed credibility, integrity, and authority. They cease to be an institution which serves society and the public; their presence becomes an impediment to social progress in light of their shameless and unscrupulous selfishness.
The vast majority of us want a society where people of all races and communities get along. We have our differences, but overall, we like each other, are constantly learning from one another, and some of the most incredible human beings we know come from these diverse backgrounds. We want to grow together under the same equal rules and freedoms, regardless of our sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so forth. And this is precisely what we have. It’s one of the amazing pleasures that citizens of countries like the United States and Canada get to enjoy; the same cannot be said for most places in the world.
Enough with the propaganda bolstering hatred and animosity between communities. Shame on these companies for their lack of principles and let us suspend our immediate emotional judgment about stories we hear in the news until we’ve researched the facts carefully. We have to get smarter, because they won’t magically grow a conscience.
Precious things carry a cost. If we want something as valuable as the truth, we have to be prepared to work for it.