Terry Pierce was shocked this month when he found a man pointing a pistol in his face. “All this over a political statement over a hat,” Pierce told WBKO-TV, after a court hearing about the Feb. 16 incident at a Sam’s Club store in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Police say James Phillips was enraged because Pierce and his wife were wearing red “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hats and, after a verbal exchange, Phillips pulled a .40-caliber Glock on Pierce. This was no idle threat. Phillips has a criminal record, including a 2013 charge of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and there was a round in the chamber of his Glock, police say. The man in the MAGA hat was dismayed.
“Everybody has a right to believe how they believe,” Pierce said Friday of the frightening encounter, “but you don’t have a right to tell somebody they can’t believe a certain way.”
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about that incident is that it happened in Warren County, Kentucky, which President Trump carried by a 30-point margin in 2016. It’s such a Republican stronghold that the local GOP congressman, Rep. Brett Guthrie, had no Democrat challenger in 2016 and won re-election in 2018 with 67% of the vote against Democrat Hank Linderman. If anti-Trump rage can make it dangerous to wear a MAGA cap in deep-red Bowling Green, how much more dangerous must it be to show support for the president in deep-blue Democrat-dominated urban coastal enclaves?
That was the subtext of last month’s incident at the Lincoln Memorial, where a group of Catholic schoolboys from Covington, Kentucky, found themselves harassed by a group of so-called “Black Hebrew Israelites.” This is a rather notorious cult, and video showed them “yelling the most obscene slurs at these boys,” as Lin Wood, attorney for Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann, told Sean Hannity last week. Sandmann is suing the Washington Post for $250 million. Whether or not the Post is ever found guilty of defaming the 16-year-old, it’s obvious one reason video of Sandmann’s confrontation with Nathan Phillips went viral is that the Covington boys were wearing red MAGA hats. They’d bought the hats as souvenirs of their visit to the nation’s capital, evidently without realizing the pro-Trump hats might make them conspicuous in overwhelmingly liberal D.C. After the Black Hebrew Israelites had spent an hour yelling homophobic and anti-white slurs at the Catholic boys, who had come to Washington for the annual “March for Life,” they were approached by Phillips, who had attended an “Indigenous Peoples March” that day. This was how the video clip of Phillips beating his drum in front of Sandmann came to be, and what enraged liberals was the MAGA hat on Sandmann’s head and the smile on his face.
“The red MAGA hat is the new white hood,” left-wing actress Alyssa Milano proclaimed on Twitter. When this remark drew criticism, Ms. Milano doubled down, saying the hats are “synonymous with white nationalism and racism,” and accusing the Catholic teenagers of “flaunting their entitlement and displaying toxic masculinity.” The Covington boys were targeted for all this abuse, you understand, simply because their hats expressed support for the President of the United States, who just happened to win Kentucky by a 30-point margin over Hillary Clinton. (Covington, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, is in Kenton County, which Trump won with nearly 60% of the vote.) The partisan divide in America is also a geographical divide. Alyssa Milano lives in Bell Canyon, California, which is 84% white, roughly comparable to Covington (87% white), but there the similarity ends. The annual median household income in Ms. Milano’s community is over $200,000, whereas it’s less than $44,000 in Kenton County, and Bell Canyon is in Ventura County, where Hillary beat Trump by a nearly 18-point margin.
What this shows is the extent to which Democrats have become the party of wealthy elites, including Hollywood celebrities, whereas Republicans represent the Middle American values of people in places like Covington. It’s easy for someone like Alyssa Milano to hurls insults at Catholic boys from Kentucky, because she’s never been to Covington and none of her friends in Hollywood wear MAGA hats. She hates everyone who voted for Trump, all 62.9 million of them, and this blind hatred of Republicans defines the current liberal worldview. Anyone who’s looked at the map of the 2016 election results can see how Democrats are isolated, living in like-minded enclaves. Of the 65.8 million votes Clinton won in 2016, more than a third of them, about 22.5 million, came from just six states (California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia). The post-election boast that Clinton won the popular vote rests entirely on the lopsided majorities she got in California (a margin of about 4.3 million) and New York (by a margin of 1.7 million). It’s tautological to say that, in the places where most liberals live, most people are liberal, but the geographical concentration of Democrat voters is such that few of them actually know anything about the people who vote Republican. To liberals, therefore, those red hats with the “Make America Great Again” slogan symbolize a distant and alien tribe, and everything the liberal sees on his favorite cable-news outlets, CNN and MSNBC, tells him to hate the MAGA tribe.
This tribal division was apparent even before Trump was elected. At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, anti-GOP protesters waved signs declaring “American Was NEVER Great! We Need to OVERTHROW This System!” Those signs bore the imprimatur of the Revolutionary Communist Party, a radical Maoist splinter group, but expressed a view widely prevalent on the Left, that America’s history is a tale of genocidal oppression. In this view, it was not until Barack Obama became president that America began to atone for its historical sins, and the Republican Party is the living symbol of this “America the Evil” past that Democrats seek to remedy. This was why Hillary’s supporters believed they were on “the right side of history,” and why her defeat in 2016 was so traumatic for Democrat voters. In their view, the “greatness” Trump promised to restore was oppressive — racist, sexist, and homophobic (not to mention the cause of “climate change”). Democrats are against American greatness, which is why wearing a MAGA hat can be dangerous if you’re near Democrats.
Just ask Bryton Turner, who was eating in a Mexican restaurant Feb. 15 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when he was assaulted by a woman enraged by his red MAGA hat. Rosiane Santos, 41, faces charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery in the incident. An immigrant from Brazil, Ms. Santos admitted to WFXT-TV that she “had a little bit to drink” before she attacked Turner, but insisted the assault was justified because she had suffered discrimination in the past. “He’s not a victim. I am the victim. I have been bullied, OK?” This is a fair summary of what is emerging as the Democrat campaign theme for 2020, and it’s unlikely to be a winning message. Trump has driven liberals crazy, and most Americans don’t want to put these crazy liberals in charge of the country.