On Friday, November 18, Washington D.C.-based Italian restaurant Maggiano’s Little Italy unintentionally hosted a banquet for members of the alt-right (translation: Neo-Nazi) collective known as the National Policy Institute, who were there to celebrate Donald Trump and Adolph Hitler. And this, folks, is what it’s come to. Having lied and hidden (as white supremacists are wont to do) behind a fake name when making their reservation at the eatery, the restaurant’s owners and staff were unaware they were playing host to one of the most dangerous, and increasingly prominent, hate-groups in the nation. Upon learning the intentions of their despicable guests, Maggiano’s has issued a public apology, stating they will donate all of the proceeds of the meal to charity; specifically, the Anti-Defamation League.
While it is encouraging to learn of the donation, it doesn’t begin to touch on the greater issue here. Though the establishment itself is not to blame, as evidenced by the cowardice of those responsible for making the reservation in the first place, it is events such as these that leave a great majority of American citizens terrified, and rightfully so, over what our future holds when left in the tiny hands of Trump.
The terrorist group, albeit small, is based in Arlington, Virginia, and has been listed as a white supremacist hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The faction’s 38-year-old chairman Richard Spencer, who has been banned from Twitter for his continually offensive racial remarks and threats, remarked at the post-dinner Saturday conference the group holds annually (this year at the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown D.C.), that the National Policy Institute believes the United States is “a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” before defaming Jewish people and all other non-white minorities who rightfully reside and belong in the country.
Protestors who knew of the Institute’s presence at the restaurant tried to make their way in and alert the owners to just whom they were allowing to patronize their business, but were aggressively turned away by police. One such guest in attendance was former Myspace-turned-reality-TV personality ‘Tila Tequila’, whose obvious desperation to stay relevant has reached a pitiful new low. In a picture posted on Twitter (on an account which has since been suspended), she can be seen smiling broadly while giving a Nazi salute with a caption that read, “Sieg Heil.” Interestingly (and sadly) enough, she was born in Singapore and is a Vietnamese immigrant. Other chants included “Heil Victory” in support of Trump’s presidential win.
Maggiano’s issued their apology through the chain-restaurant’s president, Steve Provost, via Facebook on Monday of this week. Provost wrote, “This was a last minute booking made Friday afternoon, and the reservation was made under a different name, therefore we were not aware that NPI was dining with us or what the group represents. This expression of support of Hitler is extremely offensive to us, as our restaurant is home to Teammates and Guests of every race, religion and cultural background.”
Provost also pledged to donate $10,000 to the ADL, which he stated has for decades, “been working to bring people together in peace and understanding.” The donation promise was confirmed by the Washington chapter’s regional director who said, “It’s very thoughtful of Maggiano’s to turn this negative incident into a positive action.”
Sadly, it is becoming less hard to believe incidents like these are on the rise, with evidence of countless hate-based crimes having taken place since the moment Trump became the country’s President-elect.
For those who support him but wish to distance themselves from the current state of affairs, it’s only fair to say: you don’t get to. Your actions, whether passive, aggressive or both, are the reason we now find ourselves in the situation we’re in. I wonder how many Trump supporters (whose feelings, along with Trump’s, seem to get so easily hurt over the slightest hint of dissent) would feel if this had been a gala hosted by members of the Black Panthers, LGBTQ advocates, Muslim-Americans or (say it ain’t so!)…feminists?
Before listing all of the reasons why this occurrence doesn’t define Trump or represent the current state of hate in this country, think about what it is this man promised you that you found so appealing to begin with?
If it was an unwarranted, unprovoked, exceedingly vile culture war…you win.