• 46°

DG Martin: Let us break bread together

Writer

D.G. Martin

What is the worst thing that has happened to us in the last few weeks?

Our state legislature’s final week of secrecy and surprises?

North Korea’s reported resumption of processing of nuclear fuel, a violation of President Trump’s understanding that North Korea’s nuclear threat has been eliminated?

Trump’s break with our NATO and G7 allies and his blossoming friendship and upcoming summit with Vladimir Putin, perhaps establishing with Putin in a new “G2” alliance to stand together against the U.S.’s former allies?

No, not any of these. Such things I have come to expect. They are a part of the day-to-day grind of sad and discouraging developments that no longer surprise me. They have become a part of a normal day.

What was worse for me happened late last month at the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, Va., where Stephanie Wilkinson, the restaurant’s owner, asked one of the customers to leave because she disapproved of the customer’s political views and actions.

The customer was White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Wilkinson could have been legally sanctioned for refusing to serve Sanders if her action had been based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, etc. But she had every legal right to exclude Sanders, whose politics and actions as a public official she despised.

As Wilkinson, an admired Lexington civic leader, explained to The Washington Post, she thinks Sanders works for an “inhumane and unethical” administration. She continued, “This feels like a moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

I probably agree with Ms. Wilkinson’s politics. So, why did I bite my lip in disappointment when I learned what she did?

As readers of this column know, I love restaurants like the Red Hen, ones that are small, locally owned and operated, places where people come for food and fellowship.

I have visited hundreds of such restaurants all over North Carolina and written about them in this column, in magazines, and in my book, “North Carolina Roadside Eateries.”

Many of my favorite local restaurants are owned by people whose political views are 180 degrees different from mine.

But nobody has ever threatened to kick me out or treated me disrespectfully.

An important reason-to-be for these local gathering places is that they provide a place where all of us are welcome, whatever our political persuasion, whatever our role in politics or public life.

Take Wilbur’s, the iconic barbecue restaurant in Goldsboro. Wilbur Shirley is a proud Democrat, but he welcomes all people who love good barbecue, whatever their party affiliation or beliefs. Visitors will be happier, of course, if they adhere to the doctrine of eastern style North Carolina barbecue, Wilbur’s specialty. But even those who love Lexington style are welcome.

At Wilbur’s, customers may argue with each other, and even with Wilbur, about politics, but no people will be asked to leave because of what they believe.

On my visit to Snyder’s Farms Restaurant in rural Randolph County, I felt a little uncomfortable at first, surrounded by Richard Petty memorabilia and knowing that I was probably the only Democrat in their crowded dining area.

But owners Betty and Wayne Snyder and one of their customers, N.C. Sen. Jerry Tillman, put me at ease and showed me their restaurant was about community, not about political division.

I hope the owners of our local eateries will keep them open and welcoming to all, making them refuges from the division and lack of civility that is raging though our country.

And, I would like to think Stephanie Wilkinson, if she had it to do over again, would give Sarah Sanders a warm welcome and let her finish her meal in peace.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Thursdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. on UNC-TV. Today’s guest is Wiley Cast, author of “The Last Ballad.”

Comments

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time

News

GOP leaders differ on bottom line for state spending

News

Police: Man killed in shootout with officers in Winston-Salem

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras