Hate on a plate

Don Lemon asks, ‘Is refusing to serve MAGA hat wearers similar to anti-gay discrimination?’

Don Lemon, MAGA hat, Chris Cuomo

Following the recent attack on Jussie Smollett in which his assailant allegedly shouted “This is MAGA country,” many online commenters are (once again) calling Trump’s trademark red caps the new “white hood” or “swastika,” comparing them to the hateful apparel of KKK members and Nazis.

One chef at a California restaurant recently deleted a tweet stating that they’d refuse to serve anyone wearing a MAGA hat. This led CNN to wonder: Is refusing to serve someone wearing a MAGA hat kind of like refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding?

It may sound like a dumb question, but it comes up a lot. In May 2018, transphobic alt-right podcaster Gavin McInnes claimed that MAGA hat wearers are treated as badly as gay people were in the 1950s, but it ain’t true. (While MAGA hat wearers occasionally get booted from bars and eateries, none have ever been tossed in jail just for hanging out with others like them.)

Related: Caitlyn Jenner spotted in “Make America Great Again” hat days after Trump’s transphobic attack

Lemon asked attorney Chris Cuomo about the chef’s deleted tweet, and Cuomo compared anti-MAGA discrimination to the discrimination a same-sex couple faced when refused service by the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado in 2012.

Cuomo says it’s technically legal to refuse service to MAGA hat wearers, since some people view the hat similarly to t-shirts reading, “I hate black people.”

Referencing the Masterpiece court case, Cuomo said, “Well, that was about refusing service to a group of people that should be a protected class, and unless you could argue that Trump supporters should be a protected class, I don’t think you have much of an argument on that. So let’s say this isn’t so much about whether he has the right, it’s about whether or not it is right.”

Gay people and Trump-supporters experience different sorts of discrimination, but the institutional discrimination gay people face is much older and more widespread. Also, comparing gay people with Trump-supporters views each as a “chosen lifestyle” with a chosen set of “political beliefs.”

But most gay people feel they themselves are “born that way” whereas MAGA hat wearers “choose to be that way” even though MAGA hat wearers claim to “have no choice” but to support Trump because “the truth” compels them to, even though the guy lies about 10 times a day.

In short, homophobia and anti-MAGA discrimination aren’t even remotely similar. But while Lemon doesn’t think MAGA hat wearers should be banned from public places. he also understands that anti-MAGA ire goes far beyond mere anti-conservatism or disagreement with Trump:

Your clothing tells a story about who you are, what you think about, and what you represent. And also, life is not in a vacuum. That hat means a lot of things. If you’re gonna wear that hat – maybe that hat means the Central Park 5 to people, maybe it means birtherism to people, maybe it means Mexicans are rapists to people. So you cannot erase those things from the story of that hat and say, ‘well I’m just wearing it because I want stronger immigration.’ A lot of people want stronger immigration.  It can’t just be about what you want it to be about.

That being said, the chef deleted their anti-MAGA tweet after they allegedly started receiving death threats from Trump supporters. The business owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop and the same-sex couple in that case both allegedly received death threats as well. Oh, America.

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