There has been a lot of backlash and commentary from both sides of the aisle after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave Red Hen restaurant on “moral” grounds. Now come reports that even former President Bill Clinton has weighed in on the controversy when he was on late night’s Daily Show Tuesday to promote the novel he co-authored with James Patterson, The President Is Missing, reports CNN. The best-selling author showed support for the “dignified” response made by the embattled press secretary.
“She didn’t chew them out. She didn’t pitch a fit. She didn’t call them immigrant-loving thugs, or whatever. She just got up and left and offered to pay,” he told the show’s host, Trevor Noah. He admitted that the discourse in this country has been concerning since the 2016 election. “It started off calling Mexicans rapists and murderers. So, it’s hard to pour poison down someone’s throat and not have some of it bubble up.” That bubbling up has taken form in many ways, including protests on behalf of immigrants and the policies with which they have been targeted by with this administration, including the most controversial one of zero tolerance that has ended up separating parents from their children.
In praising Huckabee Sanders, the former president also voiced a hope that people may follow her lead of politeness, and perhaps this would be an opportunity to move forward and away from the harmful rhetoric that has been plaguing public discourse. “So, maybe what I’d like to see this be the beginning of something where, you know, it would be better if we started talking to each other again,” he said. This isn’t to say that Clinton isn’t a supporter of protests when the need calls, and he pointed to a time he faced the same thing while in office.
“When we were in church once, and Chelsea was about 14, we were in a church that was a welcoming church — that is they welcomed people without regard to their sexual orientation or identity — and this man got up and protested and said we should have done more about AIDS,” Clinton said. “And he was absolutely right. And we wound up doubling funding for treatment and research and paying for about 25, 30% of the global effort at the time, and it still was nowhere near enough. That I thought was fine.”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is worried about the ratcheting up of protests against them, though none so far have been violent, with Think Progress going so far as to report that right-wing supporters are urging officials to defend themselves against “radical crazy people” and should arm themselves.