Since its introduction during the 2016 American presidential campaign, the slogan “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) has inspired no shortage of controversy.
That controversy continued this week after a Vancouver restaurant manager was fired for refusing to serve a customer wearing a red MAGA cap at The Teahouse in Stanley Park on Tuesday.
According to reports, Darin Hodge asked the customer to remove their hat. The customer argued they had the right to wear it, but ultimately left the restaurant.
The hat and its slogan have become symbols of support for U.S. president Donald Trump, whose presidency has been dogged with accusations of racism, bigotry, misogyny, and white supremacy.
In a statement, Teahouse owner Sequoia Company of Restaurants said they do not support intolerance of any kind, and that Hodge’s actions went against their policy of non-discrimination. He was let go on Thursday.
In a statement, Hodge says he doesn’t regret what he did, even if it cost him his job.
“I stand by my decision to ask the patron to remove his hat,” he told CTV. “The MAGA hat has come to symbolize racism, bigotry, islamaphobia [sic], misogyny, white supremacy, [and] homophobia. As a person with a strong moral backbone, I had to take a stand against this guest’s choice of headwear while in my former place of work. Absolutely no regrets.”
— Penny Daflos (@PennyDaflos) June 29, 2018
Since the news broke of Hodge’s firing, Teahouse’s Facebook page has been flooded with messages criticizing the restaurant, with many even calling for a boycott.
“You stand hand in hand with racists, and people who openly promote hatred against others,” one commenter said.
“Firing your manager for standing up against a symbol of bigotry? Stanley Park Teahouse, you blew it,” wrote another.
The politics of dining out in restaurants has been the subject of considerable debate in recent weeks after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a family restaurant in Virginia.
Prior to that, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was chased out of a Mexican restaurant by protesters from the Democratic Socialists of America.