The Starbucks on California Avenue in Palo Alto and a MAGA hat. Street photo from Google.
BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
It’s rare to see someone wearing a Make America Great Again hat on the Peninsula. In fact, it’s so unusual that a longtime Palo Alto resident named Victor — who was harassed at a local Starbucks over his MAGA hat — says he’s never seen anyone else wearing one in town.
But Victor, a 74-year-old retired technical writer who frequents the Starbucks at 361 California Ave., wears his red MAGA hat over his yarmulke just about every day that it doesn’t rain.
Mostly people don’t remark on it, though he sometimes gets a thumbs up. Sometimes passersby tell him he’s brave to wear it, to which Victor responds that one “shouldn’t have to have guts” to wear a hat supporting the president.
Victor said there’s an “atmosphere of fear” in Palo Alto around openly identifying oneself as a conservative or a Trump supporter.
“People have always been allowed to wear a (political) button or shirt,” Victor told the Post. “Now to wear a Trump button is considered a provocation.”
On two occasions strangers have accosted him about the hat, but both seemed “unbalanced,” he told the Post yesterday (April 3).
Then, on Monday (April 1), 46-year-old Rebecca Parker Mankey approached him at Starbucks, asked him whether he was wearing a Trump hat and then turned to other customers and yelled repeatedly that he was a racist. Mankey didn’t return the Post’s requests for comment.
“I thought she was drunk or on drugs or something,” Victor said. “I’m surprised that the Starbucks manager or someone didn’t call the police with this woman raving in the story like that.”
Thought it was an April Fools’ joke
For a moment, Victor thought Mankey was pulling an “April Fool kind of stunt,” since the confrontation took place on April 1.
It seemed particularly ironic that Mankey called Victor a Nazi, he said, since he is Jewish.
“I would call that just utterly irrational,” Victor said. “Anyone with a high school education should know about the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.”
And Mankey wrote on Facebook it was “really heartbreaking” that she was the only person yelling at Victor.
“She was unhappy that a mob didn’t form in Starbucks,” Victor said. “It’s a credit to the people at Starbucks.”
Mankey posted to Facebook what Victor said was an accurate account of the incident. The post was shared widely among conservatives on social media and made its way to Mankey’s employer, Gryphon Stringed Instruments.
Mankey was fired from her accounting job on Tuesday.
Mankey’s post noted that she wanted to find out “his name, where he lived, his wife’s name and where his kids went to school,” seeming to imply an intent to “dox” him, or publish identifying information about him with malicious intent.
In that way, Victor said the confrontation and its aftermath have been “almost like a fable” or parable.
“Here she is screaming, ‘I’ll destroy you,’ and she gets destroyed,” Victor said. “She doxed herself. I didn’t do anything.”
Says incident reflects division in country
Victor said the incident was indicative of an increasingly divisive political culture in the U.S., where families avoid talking politics at the dinner table and college students protest opposing views rather than listening and discussing the issues.
“When I was in college, you wanted to hear speakers of all different kinds,” Victor said. “America has really changed, and everyone whose head is screwed on right should fight this kind of thing.”
Victor particularly objects to progressives identifying themselves as part of the “resistance” to Trump.
“Trump didn’t come into office by a military coup d’etat,” Victor said. “It doesn’t acknowledge that we have what’s called a two-party system in America.”
Is Trump a racist?
Victor also maintains that Trump has never espoused racist ideas or promoted racist policies.
That includes the time in January 2018 that Trump asked why the U.S. was “having all these people from s***hole countries come here,” referring to Haiti and African nations.
“That’s his opinion. He’s allowed to have his opinion,” Victor said. “These are just ways of talking.”
For Victor, the same goes for Trump’s repeated references to some Mexican immigrants as rapists. In June 2015, for example, Trump said that Mexican immigrants were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Victor said that Trump meant that if the U.S. lets in “millions of Mexicans without checking them,” some rapists are bound to cross the border.
“If someone says, ‘Yeah, I want to bring back segregation,’ that may be a racist thing,” Victor said. But Trump’s policies and outlandish comments haven’t met that standard, he argues.
But Victor said he’s happy to discuss the issues with anyone who wants to debate them — civilly.
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