Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass on Monday said it “violates the spirit” of the Civil Rights Act that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant over the weekend.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Haass and other members of the show’s panel discussed the owner of Lexington, Virginia’s The Red Hen, who, after polling restaurant staff for their opinions, asked Sanders to leave over the weekend.
“One of the first landmark pieces of civil rights legislation was the public accommodations, 1964,” Haass said. “And we fought for the right of Americans to be served, whether it was restaurants or hotels and not to be denied on the basis of religion, national origin, a whole list of things.”
Haass, born in 1951, was 12 years old when the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.
“Now politics, ironically enough, was not one of them,” he said. “But what happened the other day violates the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
He went on to call the restaurant owner’s decision “politically counterproductive,” a marker of “the descent of America into tribalism” and “dangerous.”
“One of the things we should’ve learned the last year and a half is we can’t take things for granted in this country,” Haass said. “We should not take for granted the fact that this has essentially been a peaceful democracy, and our differences have never gotten bigger than what we could handle in a peaceful way. This is the sort of the thing that makes me uneasy about some of the trajectory of this country, and I think it’s serious.”
Haass made the same point on Twitter Saturday:
Asking Sanders to leave may not have violated letter of 1964 Civil Rights Act (which bans denial of access to public accommodations on basis of race, color, religion, or nat’l origin) but it violated its spirit. It is also one more sign we are coming apart https://t.co/TJiEMmHfHs pic.twitter.com/wLH24Q7VUK
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) June 24, 2018
Not only does the Civil Rights Act not cover political beliefs, neither did the owner of The Red Hen: She did not kick out all Trump supporters — as would be quite a hassle in Trump-supporting Rockbridge County, Virginia — but rather only a senior White House official. Senior White House officials, as a group, are not covered by the Civil Rights Act.
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) June 25, 2018