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Is It Okay to Yell at Tourists in MAGA Hats?

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Umbrage Court

About Umbrage Court

Umbrage Court adjudicates the extremely minor problems of urban living and strives to bring clarity to the Urban Compact. If you have business before the court, please email [email protected].

Comes now a citizen with a complaint for Umbrage Court:

I often pass groups of school kids visiting DC, some of whom are wearing MAGA hats. This makes me so sad and, if I’m honest with myself, angry! I regularly fight the urge to say something to them—or even to adults I see who are wearing pro-Trump gear. Should I give in to my feelings?

 

I. Factual Background

Just in case you weren’t sure, the Washington, DC, region is not Trump Country. The President won 4.1 percent of the popular vote in the District of Columbia, and you’d have to travel a good distance into Maryland or Virginia to find an electoral district in even a pale shade of red. The Trump administration is a particular threat to the business of this region no matter what your politics—its, uh, freewheeling style of governing has little use for much of what gets produced here, from policy analysis to advocacy. Also, we shouldn’t overlook that DC’s economic renaissance largely coincided with the previous administration. Worries that all our newfound wealth and hipness would melt on contact when the Trumpies moved to town didn’t come to pass, but there’s no denying that this is an area still deeply hostile to the current administration.

Concurrently, this is a region where tourism is a major business. We depend on tourists to do more than block Metro escalators–they bring in lots of dollars!

II. Analysis

It’s not unusual to spot those visitors wearing merchandise that celebrates Trump. Your judge has spotted people wearing MAGA hats—both ballcaps and fisherman style iterations—and even one person with pair of MAGA flip-flops around town. That type of gear is likely to exacerbate tensions among a city that, I think it’s fair to say, feels a bit under siege. MAGA gear can be read as blissful unawareness about its meaning (admittedly, an extremely generous reading) or as a middle finger to people like many of the folks around here. Either way, the temptation to say something can be very difficult to suppress.

III. Conclusion

It’s important to ask yourself what, exactly, you might accomplish by stinking up someone’s trip to DC. Are you going to change their mind? Unlikely. Are you going to send them home even more convinced that East Coast elites are a bunch of rude weenies? That’s much more possible. But fixing this country’s polarized politics is probably not your job. (Though if it is, could you please get to work? We’re already kind of dreading Thanksgiving.) Your judge once saw a grown woman wearing Philadelphia Eagles gear start screaming at a preteen boy at FedExField who had been chanting “Eagles suck.” As per usual, Washington’s NFL team had lost convincingly that day, but I kind of doubt she made that kid rethink his position.

You don’t have to subscribe to the belief that by being pleasant to people who support this president, you might help heal the red-blue divide in the US—you can just as easily revel in robbing them of a valuable opportunity to talk about how people DC are just as bad as they were led to believe. Let’s be super-nice to all adults wearing Trump stuff—it’ll drive them crazy. And surely you don’t need this court to tell you to leave kids alone, even if you’re confident that all the positions you held as a teenager will hold up to scrutiny.

ABOUT UMBRAGE COURT

Umbrage Court adjudicates the extremely minor problems of urban living and strives to bring clarity to the Urban Compact. If you have business before the court, please email abeaujon@washingtonian.com.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.