Friday, September 1, 2017

uh-oh, I patronized the KKK

That is not a subject line I ever expected to write. But perhaps, since it's weird enough, this local story may have gone viral: the one about the restaurant in Santa Cruz which closed after widespread dismay over the revelation that the owner had contributed to David Duke's senatorial campaign.

I ate at that restaurant. Fairly frequently. It was the best Chinese restaurant on Santa Cruz's westside, and I'd often repair there for lunch after a hard morning's research at the UCSC library. The outside facing was a blank wall with high unrevealing windows and a plain, dingy door: the look of the most uninviting dive imaginable. Inside, though, it was modestly elegant and a little glossy, as was the food. I used to defend it from bad reviews, and my only complaint was that they charged you extra for tea, which no other Chinese place does in my experience.

I'm not in favor of organized boycotts of businesses for political opinions unrelated to the topic of their business, but if the entire customer base of Santa Cruz and sundry chooses spontaneously to recoil in revulsion at this news about the owner, I will in this case find myself among them.

The owner, who is white and not Chinese, plays a supporting role in the article, both feet stuck firmly in his mouth. He calls the population "stupid," which he then corrects to "ignorant," for believing that David Duke is anything but innocuously "defending the civil rights of European-Americans, whites." Uh-huh. You go on believing that, and that "European-Americans" is the name of a legitimate ethnic group,* and we'll go on avoiding your restaurant.

He also wonders why it is that only white people get called "Nazis." Does he? Does he really?

*Do I need to explain why it isn't? Somebody - might have been Ta-Nehisi Coates, but I can't find it right now - wrote an essay about the illegitimacy of the bunching of white ethnicities into a racial solidarity movement. I'll go to a German-American festival, where I expect to find jolly men in lederhosen serving beer and bratwurst, but if I read the words "European-American festival," I expect to see skinheads with swastika tattoos. Or not see them, because I won't be there.

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